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Maria Gutzeit: The many roles of Dad

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Posted: June 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Help wanted: The right candidate will be able to work 24/7 upon request. Critical skills include the ability to change diapers, prepare cereal and bubble baths and play tiger. Tickling, chauffeuring, coloring and setting up blocks and car tracks are also required. Strong arms to move furniture, hang children upside down, mount swings and smash bugs are a plus.

I'm betting today's dads aren't like our fathers, and most kids are probably loving it. Back in the day, we were admonished not to "bother daddy," because he was tired after work.

There was the parents table and the kids table, and rarely were they the same.

Dad worked his butt off to provide braces, school funds and pay extra for the air conditioner when we left the doors open because we surely "lived in a barn." He gave stern advice on careers and car purchases.

However, I don't know that our fathers met nearly the diaper-changing quotas that today's dads do.

There have been so many media stories about the changing role of fathers of late.

Are they Mr. Moms while mom brings home the bacon? Are they working too many jobs trying to provide? Are they doing their share of housework? Are they unfortunately absent? Are their hormones altered by too much stroller-time? Rather than worry about any of this we should just thank all Dads (and Moms, and the saintly solo parents managing it all) for what they do - however they get it done.

One of the joys of kids is they remind us that all our daily "stuff" really isn't that important, at least not to them.

We adults can stew about politics, or bills, or work at any hour of the day or night. Break out the crayons, buy a Popsicle, or take a trip to the park, and everything is A-OK in our children's eyes, as it should be.

We know there's a lot of worrying necessary these days, and kids give us more to mull over.

Should we bother buying organic food? Are they getting protein, veggies and starch in every meal? Will the health insurance cover the latest oops? Do their shoes still fit? Are we putting enough money away for college? Will they learn anything in school? Who's biting, throwing sand and calling names, and will they be scarred for life because of it?

While we worry about these things, it's good to know the main protection kids want is from the "monsters" under the bed when the lights go out.

They want to know when Santa is coming to bring candy. They want to go swimming. They want to color and play hide-and-seek.

Dividing up chores by who wants to do them, and who is best at certain things, makes sense. This is a great relief for parental guilt and stress.

These days bug smashing and swimming lessons may not always fall to Mommy. Career advice and financial tips may not always come from Daddy.

Mom might like making cookies and doing the taxes. Dad might not mind cuddling and watching "Sesame Street" after working all day.

All our roles are changing, and that's OK as long as the kids are bouncing along with a smile on their faces.

In honor of Father's Day, let's thank all stripes of dads: the ones doing the grind in the workplace, the ones changing diapers, the ones coaching sports and the ones that take the time to play Play-Doh and eat Popsicles.

Maria Gutzeit is a Santa Clarita resident, mom, business owner, and elected official with Newhall County Water District.




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