Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Grandfatherhood

I think he did just fine!
Many men take a very active role in child-rearing in this modern day.
There are baby-change-stations in public men's rooms.
And I've even seen a ‘Father’s Room’, complete with rocking chairs, for feeding and caring for babies and children.
It’s a good thing.
When I was growing up, it was not so.
Men were not only not encouraged to take part in the care of children.
At times, they were actually discouraged.
My dad started child-raising in the 40s. I don’t think he changed a diaper in his whole life.
Husby started fatherhood in the late 70s. He changed plenty of them.
And my sons rearing children in the present day? Even more.
But it’s not really the diaper-changing that I'm talking about. It’s what it represents.
A chance to take a more active role, and be closer to, their children.
My dad had observed this shift in the parenting paradigm.
With regret.
Let me tell you about it . . .
In the earlier days of our marriage, Husby and I lived in a small home that he had built. A very small home. 306 square feet.
Cozy.
In that tiny space, we still managed all of the amenities. I had my washer and drier. And even my dishwasher.
There was a minuscule front room, carpeted with tacked-down rug samples from our local carpet store.
Luxury.
One day, my dad stopped by for a chat.
I happily sat down with him in the front room.
There, between us on an otherwise tidy floor, lay a broom.
Two things stand out in the aforementioned (Oooh, good word!) statement.
One, that the room was tidy.
Weird.
And two . . . hmmm . . .
Okay, just one.
Dad noticed the broom. “Um, Diane,” he said. “Why do you have a broom in the middle of your carpeted front room floor?”
I looked at it. “Oh.” Then, “Erik!”
My two-year-old bounced into the room.
“Your steed!” I said.
Erik grinned and, picking up the broom, he straddled it and ‘rode’ it out of the room.
Then I turned back to Dad.
He was shaking his head and had tears in his eyes.
“Dad! What’s wrong?”
“I never enjoyed you kids when you were little,” he said. “Never spent enough time with you. I should have.”
Dad was a product of his time. A time when men weren't expected to take that more proactive role.
It’s a great pity.
P.S. Dad made up for his perceived lack of involvement with his own kids by being very proactive in his grandkids. 
It was a beautiful thing.

8 comments:

  1. I feel bad for men who didn't get to change diapers and really get down and dirty (as it were) with their kids. They truly missed out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Some things have certainly changed for the better. For both genders. And for the children.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My husband changed diapers in the seventies and eighties and was involved with his children but not as much as I see with my son. Today's dads seem to be more hands on and this is a very good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's what grandchildren are for...second chances.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My son and son in law have been very hands on with their kids, it's a wonderful thing for sure. We now have dads who fully understand their kids and kids who know their dads very well. A very welcome change form the past.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My dad had never changed a diaper until his grandson came along. And then he put it on backwards. Because nobody TOLD me he had never changed a diaper. He got better though!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Like you said Diane, your dad was a product of his time. So was mine, and I guess many fathers of that time. Unfortunately mine wasn't given a chance to try the diaper changing etc. I lost him before my brother or I had kids. Beautiful story, as always!
    xx Abby

    ReplyDelete

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