June 20, 2015 — As we celebrate Father’s Day in the United States, Canada, the UK, Japan, and some parts of Europe, Catalyst would like to honor dads around the world! Fathers are having a powerful impact, helping to challenge the status quo and #DisruptTheDefault for their daughters and sons. At Catalyst we believe that fathers must be treated as co-parents who have equal responsibility for their families, and that they deserve equal consideration when it comes to flexible work and parental leave. It’s a message we’ve sent loudly and clearly, especially in the last couple of years.
Here are five key takeaways about the dads of today:
He’s not the babysitter! In her blog about sharing parental responsibilities, Julie S. Nugent urges us to stop doing a double take when we see fathers stepping up to the plate. “So when will the tides turn?” she asks. “Will brows continue to rise when dads are standing next to the kids at the bus stop? Or when they are the ones changing the diapers in the family restroom? How about when they show up to help in the classroom or volunteer at PTA meetings? Rather than paying special attention to these actions, do what you would do if you saw a woman in the situation: not think twice about it....Only then will society stop thinking of dads as the ‘other,’ rather than an important parental figure and equal partner.” Adds Jeanine Prime in her blog about co-parenting, sometimes mothers need to ask for more equal partnerships, and equality means give and take: “If you want to share the work of raising a child, you have to share the decision-making as well.”
He’s an inclusive leader. John LaVeck sent a powerful message in his recent blog about coming out as a teenager. Although LaVeck’s teachers were unsupportive, his own father was one of his best allies. LaVeck remembers, “He looked me in the eyes and gave me the warmest smile I’ve ever seen and said, ‘We love you, son. There is nothing you could ever do that would change that.’”
He’s challenging cultural norms. Makiko Ishizawa recently visited family in Japan, where women are typically responsible for childcare and housework. In her blog, Ishizawa recounted how her brother-in-law—a father of two—is very involved in both parenting and housework, as are the men he’s met through his children’s preschool. Hanging out with like-minded dads made doing his share at home feel like a natural, normal part of being a parent: “It’s been good for my brother-in-law to see other men also stepping up at home, good for my sister, and good for my niece and nephew. And a shift towards equality at home could mean a much broader cultural shift for Japanese women—at work and in the family.”
He benefits from flex, too. Erin Leonty writes about the time her husband’s flexible company and workplace allowed him to work from home while caring for their sick child so that she could attend an important work event. She says her husband “was relieved that he didn’t have to hide or rationalize his decision to stay [at home] with our daughter.” Flexible work arrangements aren’t just for moms!
He’s an advocate for women. Last year Raina Lipsitz honored her father with a blog praising men who raise strong, capable, confident women. Lipsitz wrote that the best fathers teach their daughters “to have self-respect, to be self-sufficient, and to maintain the best kind of high standards: those related not to money or power or status, but to how we treat others and how we expect to be treated ourselves.” Fathers who do this choose to lead intentionally and inclusively every single day and act as advocates not only for their own daughters, but for all women.