This is an open letter to a new generation of fathers, with the hope for all of us to create and embrace a culture of caring.
Dear Future Dads, we need to create a culture of caring
Dear Future Dads,
It is with honor and emotion that I welcome you inside the fatherhood circle. Now more than ever, your role is important. While I still have A LOT to learn about being a father, I wanted to share a few insights which I hope, will be helpful to you.
The main advice I will give you is the following: embrace your caregiving role to the fullest.
The best way to achieve this important goal, is to first, take full advantage of your paid family leave benefit if your country / state / organization allows you the opportunity. Please acknowledge that this is not a given for everybody: be grateful for it and enjoy this benefit if it is available to you.
Do not let anyone guilt you about taking time off to bond with your new family. This is a unique moment where you will create a special connection with your child and establish a new family dynamic: having a new human being under your roof is a big deal.
Do not let a corporate culture or traditional gender norms rob you of the chance to experience the most fulfilling moments of your life. You are not only a bread-winner and nobody should force you to only embrace this aspect of parenting.
Do not feel ashamed about wanting to be a caregiver. Not only is this completely natural but this is your right and this is (also) your job. Discuss with your partner about the role you want to play in your children’s life. Figure out a dynamic that works for both of you, regardless of what your family or society thinks about it.
Moments (weeks) after birth are priceless and are for nurturing and learning, for both parents. For the mother, it is also a crucial time of physical and emotional healing. You must step in and embrace your role: You are not helping. You are not babysitting. You are parenting.
Unfortunately, you will quickly notice how unfriendly modern society can be to parents; how challenging and costly can childcare be. Never forget that the purpose of the workplace is to get the most out of you, not to make you a fulfilled parent. This is why it is important for us fathers to create a culture of caring.
While I am addressing upcoming fathers in this letter, note that the title reads WE need to create a culture of caring. It means that all fathers must contribute to break the stigmas of destructive and outdated gender roles. Either by encouraging and supporting other fathers in their caregiving journey; and / or being showing leadership by being an advocate of the importance of the caregiving role of fathers. It is an historical time for men, women and for gender dynamics all over the world. As fathers, it is our time to play an active caregiving role and to be visible about it.
There are many things I could add but I want to end this letter with three practical advices. Those advices could also be interpreted as requests, as I am sure that they will benefit society at large.
- Be a pioneer. Don’t conform to traditional gender roles: be the dad you want to be.
- Be vulnerable. Ask for help: someone will always listen. It’s ok to be emotional.
- Be present. Physically and emotionally: it is the greatest present you can give.
Dear future dads, I wish you all the best in this beautiful journey. Let’s create together a culture of caring. I love you with all my heart.