Breaking the Mold: What It Means to be a Millennial Dad


Being a Dad is a pursuit that I’ve been contemplating for an extended period of my young life. I was a pre-teen when my divorced parents got re-married and started having more children. Ultimately I went from being an only child for 14 years to having one stepbrother, 2 half-brothers, and 1 half-sister. In my teenage years I was exposed to the joys and terrors of raising a child. While I sometimes complained about the responsibilities of baby-sitting my younger siblings, I also enjoyed seeing them grow up and ultimately was pleased to have such a large age gap between myself and them. It had given me the awareness and perspective to truly appreciate seeing the changes in them as they grew older and developed into bright young kids. It served as a strong reminder upon becoming a dad myself of just how quickly kids grow up. With this knowledge tucked away in my mind, I have been ever diligent with my own 14 month old to do my best to capture every moment in my heart and mind and lock it away as a precious memory. I document every milestone that I can via photos, videos, gifs, social media posts, and now this blog. Concerned with my work load pulling me away from my newborn, as well as the unfortunate burden of stress that I was unloading from my previous job onto my family, I even changed jobs to find a more work-life balanced position that had more flexible hours. All of this in an effort to prioritize raising my daughter and contributing as a co-parent in my little family’s household.  
With my wife also working and contributing to our family financially, I made it an absolute requirement that I help do some of the heavy lifting on the home front. I started adjusting my habits during her pregnancy as she began to get further along into the 9 month process. I could see that tasks that she used to do with ease were beginning to get more and more taxing on her ever changing body. With this in mind, I asked her to rest more, and allow me to pick up the slack when it came to the daily chores of managing a house. Dishes, laundry, mowing, groceries, cleaning, cooking! I really pushed myself to be a super husband and take on more of these kind of tasks. The hardest part for my wife? Allowing me to take over. She is a classic worker bee who cannot sit still until every single menial task is complete. So as I adjusted my own habits to get things done more within the time frame that she preferred, she also had to adjust her own busy bee attitude to allow for someone else to take the reins in the household and care for her. This season of our lives was a lot of work but it helped prepare us for the even more difficult season that was to come. Having the baby that we had been preparing for during the last year of our lives.
The first day back from the hospital with our baby girl was a truly wonderful day. We were exhausted to our core and just wanted to be back in our own bed. I had it in my heart that I didn’t just want to help with things around the house but wanted to be a “real” Millennial Dad. It was my desire to break out of the mold that so many men choose to use as a loophole. Referencing stereotypical roles as a father to cop out of dealing with the difficult parts of having a kid. Too many times I had heard women in my life speak of their husbands who wouldn’t stir in the least bit when their little one was crying out for a bottle at night or simply needed to be consoled. Too many times I had heard those same women speak about their partners coming home from work, expecting dinner to be ready for them and crashing on the couch to turn on the TV, tuning out their wife’s and children’s needs in selfish pursuit of their own comfort after a “long day at work.” If that is really how things used to be for men, no wonder so many marriages end up in divorce. Let’s be honest with one another men; for too long women have quietly picked up the slack and managed more than their fair share of the home life. We live in modern times when most families require both the partners in the relationship to work in order to make ends meet. So having the expectation that a woman must work a full time job, keep the house in order, and tend to your needs and your families, seems outdated to say the least. I want to be the kind of husband and father that puts in the extra effort to ensure that the weight of maintaining a happy home is equally distributed among the two partners in life.
When our daughter was in the first twelve weeks of her life, it often felt like we were living three hours at a time. Not long after her birth, we transitioned to formula feedings. That made it fair game for me to step up and help feed her at night. With the exponential growth that takes place in those first three months, there were plenty of sleepless nights to go around for the three of us. But by dividing up the tasks between us, each passing week became a bit more manageable. I’d say that the first six months of extra contributions as an involved father were more perceivable to my wife especially as she dealt with the emotional rollercoaster of post pregnancy life. But that extra effort has paid handsome dividends in my relationship and interaction with my daughter. She has a dad who knows her mannerisms, recognizes her cries, and can actively manage her needs without looking helplessly around for help. I take pride in my ability to handle my little girl independently of anyone else. It makes it so much easier on our marriage as we can actively tackle the duties of caring for our child more efficiently and effectively than if either of us were to do it alone. We have discovered what areas of child care that we each excel in and have distributed the tasks accordingly. For example, I have become accustomed to being the primary parent that gets our daughter down for sleep each night. My wife is able to give our daughter baths more effectively than I do! (Bath times with daddy end up making a much larger mess to clean up.) We do our best to take turns making dinner in the evenings and our daughter is old enough with plenty of teeth to eat most of the same food as us in the evenings. Diaper duty is a sort of back and forth between the two of us as we keep a mental list of who was the last person to change a poopy diaper. I will admit that on this front, my wife has most definitely changed more poopy diapers than me. But I’m just a Millennial Dad for goodness sake, I hold no claim on Father of the Year!   
Breaking stereotypes is a heavy handed task that takes more than a single person to do. As a generation of young fathers begins to step into their new found role of being a dad, it will take an effort that spans the growing population of parents to break out of the mold that we’ve been cast into and show our children what we are capable of. We create the definition of what it means to be a father through our actions. It isn’t a simple, singular choice. It is a decision that you must make every day when you wake up, to actively participate in your child’s life and show them love in a manner that goes far beyond simply being a provider. It means taking them to daycare or school when mom has an early morning meeting. It means helping to clean them up when they get sick late in the night and need to be bathed. It means holding them close while they are young and still want to be “Daddy’s little girl.” It means standing behind your partner in marriage and proving to them day in and day out that you have their backs in every aspect and facet of raising your children together. I take this task with the upmost level of seriousness. Why? Because the example that we set as Millennial Dad’s now will impact the next generation of fathers. It is my hope that by setting a high bar now that the future husband of my daughter will treat her with more respect, more kindness, more devotion, and more patience. As a Dad my greatest hope is that my daughter will lead a better life than my own. In that same vein of thought, it is my hope too that we can come together as father’s in this country and raise up men and women who will go above and beyond to ensure the lives of their own children.

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Also if you want to keep reading check out my post, "Right To Fly" where I reflect on one of my favorite John Mayer songs "Wheel" and discuss how we all have the right to fly but don't always exercise our right to take flight.
 

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