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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Fatherhood, a Century of Change

The changing role of fathers as parents has brought dramatic differences to the family unit with a century. During the difficult war years and great depression men kept their emotions hidden in order to portray certain strengths of character and calm. They were told that men don’t cry even though they had witnesses many horrors and heartaches – their role as head of the household was to be invincible and ever-strong in front of their families. This restrictive rhetoric led many to self-imposed emotional prisons, where escapism often led to substance abuse. This created an invisible wall that partially separated families from really knowing each other at a deeper level. The pressures of fatherhood were demanding as many struggled to find the steady work needed to support large families. People had a standard role of what they should be doing in society whether they liked it or not, though change evolved and some broke through the stereotypes.

The more prosperous 1950’s had a firm structure, though fathers could relax a little. Images of perfect families and fathers playing with their children graced magazine covers, though this wasn’t the case for everyone. Fathers were still restricted from birthing suite or were convinced that this was not their place. The connection between babies and fathers were limited until children were old enough to communicate fully, babies often remained the domain of woman. As women began to enter the workforce, ideas of the standard family changed forever. This was often an era of children being seen, but not heard, until some children rebelled against these sentiments.  

The later years of the twentieth century, especially the radically different 60’s and 70’s gave fathers a natural freedom of expression. This era of freedom had its downside and many children were born outside the family unit, leading to a multitude of forced adoptions, shaming for young adults, and alternative futures for children. Men with families could now speak with their emotional voices without ridicule, as judgement lessened. Men loved their children, but now they could show it. The handshake as an emotional bond between father and son slowly gave way to the embrace. Fathers could march and demonstrate their true beliefs at public forums, building on the way they thought family life should be. Deep meaningful conversations were part of daily life and the bond between father and child was flourishing out loud.

By the twenty first century the father’s role in the household had been dismantled and rebuilt anew, thanks to the work of previous generations of men and women.  Situations had changed; mothers or fathers could stay home and look after their children while the other parent worked – the family unit altered dramatically compared to previous centuries. The softer emotionally intelligent father emerged with a new openness. Tough love scenarios dwindled as gentler approaches to childhood developed. Fathers could speak to their children and value their opinion. The father now becomes, teacher and nurturer from day one, considering the child’s best interest within the family. With love on show he can be straightforward, comical or subtle when speaking with his children. He gives love; he receives love, he is helpful – that is the true spirit of fatherhood.

Sharon D Bush
Writer   Historian   Artisan   Sage     

Book: The Scrolls of Wisdom, philosophical/spiritual self-help book finished (on the final edit – looking for publishers).