Father’s Day 2021:

The blessing and curse of the Pandemic

Father’s Day means many things for different men, and can come with associated feelings of love, connection, and caring; and sometimes, grief, loss and regret.

While Father’s Day can seem to have a very commercial focus as other holidays, it remains a day of celebrating the most important relationships in men’s lives. Caring for the next generation is a key role for men and is often associated with images of being both provider and protector.

Among the many and varied descriptions of masculinity, the relationship that men have with their children is a very significant connection. Men rarely talk about it, perhaps because it doesn’t seem sufficiently “masculine”, is too intimate or private to discuss. Sometimes they don’t have the words.

Often it is not until their children have grown up, or even when approaching the end of their own lives that men express regret for spending too much time at work, and not enough with their family. Sadly, many men only start talking about the importance of their family relationships after a crisis like family separation or a loss of a child has occurred.

A revolution is underway

Canadian men are becoming more vocal about their role in fathering, and the value they place on connection with family, particularly their children. What is occurring is a quiet men’s revolution. While not as vocal as the women’s movement, it is noticeable in the way men talk about achieving a better work-life balance, and how men behave differently as they walk together with their children, proudly push the carriage, or access parental leave.

Things may have changed with Covid-19

Lockdown and work restrictions have enabled many dads to be around the home more than they might ever have been. Workplaces have suddenly been able to be flexible and unintentionally family-friendly. This has enabled men to participate more in their children’s lives and the household generally, and for many, this has been revolutionary in terms of what might be a better working arrangement going forward. They have been better able to be active and present in their fathering, and to experience that they are both wanted and needed by children and partners.

A recent Canadian study provided evidence that while average childcare hours for both parents increased during the pandemic for dual-income families, there has been a relative increase for average childcare hours for males compared to females. It indicates changes in the ways that fathers take a role in being present in their children’s lives today.

This year, Father’s Day will be unique in terms of the loosened restrictions it places on celebrations. For many separated dads, lockdown has meant difficulty seeing their children, and this may finally provide relief from their sadness and isolation.

Many men, regardless of whether they are in a family relationship or are separated, identify fathering as something which is a central part of their lives. It takes patience, thoughtfulness, and conscious work to navigate the different life stages, and how they affect the fathering role.

Dads’ time and attention is what children enjoy; watching a favourite show together, lingering over light conversation, playing board games will all be very meaningful because they are about time with their father. Contacting grandparents by Zoom and talking across the generations about being a kid and a dad, or how kids and parents have changed, is a super way to acknowledge generations of fathering.

Time to Celebrate Dad

Fathers matter in the lives of their children. During this time of COVID-19, however, dads of young children may find themselves dealing with totally unexpected, stressful, and uncertain circumstances, such as juggling changes in employment, concerns about getting essentials, and financial matters.

Both moms and dads had a lot to deal with, but stay-at-home orders also provided a welcome silver lining. There’s more family time as dads and moms may have the unexpected opportunity to spend more time at home. This June, as families celebrate Father’s Day, many babies, toddlers, and teens are spending more time with their dads, and dads may be experiencing the unexpected joys of more time with their children.

During this unprecedented time, dads and their wives/partners may be experiencing considerable stress and anxiety as they work to take care of their family in the midst of so much uncertainty.

However, it seems that in our culture, Father’s Day is celebrated far less than Mother’s Day. Statistics prove it. Gift buying for Father’s Day lags behind buying for Mother’s Day. According to the Greeting Card Industry, there are 40 million fewer cards sold for Father’s Day than Mother’s Day. Why is this? Don’t dads deserve the recognition moms do?

Our culture often portrays men as being less significant than women. Movies and books often depict men as incapable, uninvolved, disconnected, lazy, passive, and uncaring, but in 2021 Pandemic Perception … this is far from the truth.

If anyone would be so discriminating as to depict all women as being bossy, controlling, lazy and insensitive, we’d never hear the end of it.

Why does it seem acceptable in our culture for women to complain, gripe, and nag their husbands, yet men who also work hard and sacrifice many hours for their family are considered male chauvinists if they dare criticize women?

Fathers today face an incredible amount of stress and pressure not only from their jobs, but also because of unrealistic expectations.

What is the significance of Father’s Day? Why should fathers be appreciated? When God created fathers, He gave us a tangible view of our relationship with Him. God is our strong Protector and Provider. A StrongTower. This is the role He wanted fathers to demonstrate, the role he wanted fathers to fill. God is also gentle and nurturing like a mother. The combination of the strengths of the best father and the best mother gives a reflection of who God is.

Happy Father’s Day to all you courageous godly men who aren’t afraid to go against the culture and sacrificially lead your wives/ partners and children toward increasingly greater and more genuine happiness. You are significant.

Renata Isopo renata@newsfirst.ca