There is something to be said for being comfortable in your own skin in today’s world where being an involved dad is still misunderstood the majority of the time.
As a new generation of men enter into fatherhood, we want to be accepted as competent equals to our partners. A father’s role is just as important as a mother’s role and men are very capable for the daily care of their children too. It has been tough helping to break the traditional stereotype of being “Mr. Mom” and being accepted as “Today’s Dad.”
More and more, you will see fathers in the parks with their children or at playgroups. This is not because these fathers are unemployed or trying to “Find themselves.” Fathers today are becoming more comfortable in their own skin as primary caregivers and either choosing to stay home or choosing a career with flexibility, in some cases where they can work from home as they help raise their children today. Folks, this is all part of the NEW normal!
The first time I took my daughter to a Gymboree class mid-week without my wife, I did feel a little out of place. I entered a “Mommy and Me” (the sign that’s posted) activity, and asked myself, “Are dads supposed to do this?” Well, guess what I did.
I had to remind myself why I was doing this, but I knew that this was the only way I would be able to get involved with a midday activity group. This was my “Lunch Date” on Tuesday afternoons with my little girl. I was going to make the best of it regardless if I was accepted or not. As the weeks went on, and I became a constant fixture in weekly gym class, and the idea of having a dad in the group was becoming more accepted … the vibe evened out.
After a few months of being the only male parent, eventually, other fathers started to take similar steps and join in as well. The other mothers didn’t treat us as an outcast but did have a delayed reaction to my presence. As I showed my confidence in caring for my daughter, the other mothers saw that I was not just there to get a break from parenting my daughter, but was there to learn and interact with her. Now, I’m accepted as Christina’s dad and expected to be in class weekly. Now, there are four other fathers that I have gotten to know because they too started to interact in a predominantly female environment.
Beside my family and wonderful wife who have always encouraged my caregiving for our daughter, it has been the bond and friendships from other active and involved dads that has me excited to share my story. The men of the NYC Dads Group have been encouraging and helpful in so many ways. Even though it has been a short time that we have known each other, I don’t think I have ever met such a dedicated and uplifting group of fathers.
My journey to being comfortable in my skin as a new dad has come full circle as I am now able to be a “veteran” and reach out to support the new dads-to-be as they take their new role on. I know there are many other expectant fathers and everyday dads who have set out to be comfortable in their own skin and struggle from time to time. I am here to tell you that it is achievable! All you need is a great support system and the ability to put the haters and naysayer’s behind you!
Dan Giardino is a first-time dad to 1 year old Christina. His family lives in Queens, NY. He has chosen to be as involved as he can in Christina’s daily life. Dan works fulltime but schedules time with Christina whenever opportunity allows. He is trying to find a comfortable work/life balance. He and wife Jen value their family time and are thankful for the support found with the NYC Dads Group. Read more on Twitter @NYCDanG.