As a society, we're placing higher expectations on fathers than ever before. Unlike previous generations, dads today are expected to take a proactive role in caring for the children not only financially, but emotionally and physically as well.
Long gone are the days when when it was typical for a man to come home from work, loosen his tie, slip off his shoes, and kick back in the recliner with his newspaper, which he thumbed through as he waited for his dinner to be served by his cheery, happy wife.
Today's dads come home after a long day of work and often don't get to decompress. Some pick up their children from daycare on the way home. Others walk in their front door and are bombarded with the hassles of the day while they struggle to make the instant transition from professional to father.
As a stay-at-home mom, I could never understand why my husband would sit in his car for a few moments after pulling into the driveway. Until, that is, the day he stayed home and watched our one-year-old, and it was my turn to come home exhausted from a busy and hectic day. The minute I walked into our front door I wished I had stayed in the car just a few minutes longer.
Like so many of today's moms, contemporary dads must juggle the guilt of not spending enough time with their family with the guilt of not giving it all to their work.
We women seem to have more support with this struggle than our spouses. Magazine articles, support groups, and websites warn us of the risks of burning out and the importance of taking care of ourselves.
But fathers don't band together like moms do. And even though they often try to take on a more nurturing role, it's pretty hard to overcome the stereotypes depicted by the media. We watch television shows that portray fathers as bumbling idiots, scared stiff to change their babies' diapers, incapable of anything other than drinking beer and watching a ball game. Even our news is filled with reports of deadbeat dads and women who have beaten the odds despite (not with the help of) the men in their lives.