This is a guest post by Chad Carter, co-founder of DadsWhoDiaper
I don’t necessarily think of myself as a “modern” dad, a “today’s” dad, or even a hip dad. What do I think I am?
It’s not a unique title, or even an original one, but it is the best one. However, dads are different these days, for years there’s been a ground swell going on, not unlike my 9-month-old’s diaper at times. Like myself, fathers are excited to wear it as a badge of honor, celebrate openly with friends and peers (parents or not), and make fatherhood front and center in their lives. Fathers are more active, engaged, and excited to play a role in the lives of their child(ren) than ever before.
Changing diapers, midnight feedings, bathing, dressing, trips to the park, spending alone time, and sharing in the experience is now common practice for dads. I am not a stay at home dad, but I regularly do many of those activities in the afternoons when I’m in charge. It’s a role dads are choosing to take on, on their own, and excited to do so. I don’t believe this is some seismic shift in parenting, nor is it solely because society is making things more acceptable (although that helps.) Today, dads are making a conscious decision to not be a spectator and instead dive right in.
As exciting as that is, for many dads that involvement is not being reflected back to them. Marketing, advertising, TV, and movies all still too often show dads as the bumbling parent who can’t keep the family together when mom is away. Though there are some companies actively trying to change that. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are an estimated two million stay at home dads. That doesn’t even include the millions more across this country who everyday cook dinners, give baths, coach sports teams, help with homework and are able to help keep the house running. I simply don’t subscribe to the notion dads can’t do it.
Now more than ever before, dads are engaged in the decisions being made for baby. Helping to decide whether it should be crib from the start (our choice), a bedroom bassinet, or co-sleeping when baby comes home? Diaper and wipe brands, bottle choices, day care or nanny interviews, all decisions that we’re excited to take part in and doesn’t even scratch the tip of the parenting iceberg.
That’s what prompted me, along with a fellow new dad, to start the website dadswhodiaper.com. While it’s a literal translation of what we do, it’s more of a representation of the active parenting dads are tackling head on. Online support for moms is an exploding business with blogs, websites, forums and more. All places where moms can swap questions, tips, support and seek help when necessary. While the online support community for dads is growing, it’s clear that dads still have the same questions, anxiety, and need for support as moms.
Since launching our site just this month, we have been blown away the most, by the support from MOMS. We have heard repeatedly, ‘thank you so much for acknowledging what my husband/partner does for our family.’
Going into the birth of our first child I knew there would be things I wasn’t prepared for. What I didn’t expect was to be so excited for this new journey and find the image of being a dad is often still one of just being a grown up version of my own child. Why is my role in parenting diminished in public simply because I am his dad?
Now nearly a year into fatherhood, the best support I’ve found is knowing the excitement of my fellow dads is thriving. The best part? Some of the biggest, loudest, and strongest support is coming from moms because they too want to see their spouse’s efforts recognized.
It is not a fad, we are not babysitters, we are parents who are proud to say “I love you” and cherish every dirty diaper and sleepless night with our little ones.
Chad Carter is the father of a 9 month old son and co-creator ofdadswhodiaper.com and the Dads Who Diaper podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChadCarterPDX and on facebook at facebook.com/dadswhodiaper