Lay of the Land

Lay of the Land

Lay of the Land

The terrain of fatherhood has changed dramatically, generation to generation. We at DadsAdventure.com have had courtside seats for decades and are excited to see it continually evolve. Strangely, the current "New Dad" looks a lot like a very old dad.

Return of the Cave Dad

The “new, involved nurturing dad” is actually nothing new at all. In fact, it’s about as old as it can be. Research from neuroscience, anthropology, and biology indicates the caveman was a hands-on and very involved father. He was a great dad, placed the bar high for all fathers, and equipped us to clear it.

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History of Fatherhood in America

So how did fathers do in the interim since Cave Dads? Great . . . until about 175 years ago. 

In early America, most fathers spent the bulk of their waking hours with their children on their farms or in their shops, and their homes were close by. The role of fathers, with respect to their children, involved education, teaching skills and a trade, spiritual guidance, discipline, and no doubt playing. 

We Are Different, All the Same

The story of fathers is more nuanced than any abridged history might indicate. We each bring our own unique background to becoming a father. 

If you do not have the experience of being raised by a father, you'll have more to learn, but also a stronger drive to ensure your child gets everything you have to offer. Economic circumstances also play a role.

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After all, It’s tough to build a family on financial fumes.  Your relationship with Mom will be a huge factor. You may have been raised in a culture with a restrictive take on the role of fathers. If you’re young, basic maturity can be a major challenge, and if you’re older, you’ll probably be more set in your pre-baby lifestyle. 

While we are all different, we are also all the same. We all have the built-in biological predisposition to be a good dad handed down from our cave dad ancestors. You can look forward to developing this and the hormonal enhancements that accompany it, triggered by close contact with your baby. 

As you anticipate the arrival of your little one, anticipate the arrival of your innate drive to do whatever it takes for your new child and family, and prepare to ride it like a surfer riding a wave.

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Mommyland is Tough on New Moms

MommyLand is what we call the huge maternal industrial complex of mega baby stores, publishers, websites, TV shows, mom bloggers and groups focused on the care of babies by mothers. A mass of marketers, pundits, and self-appointed “experts," attracted by the fact mothers make 85% of family purchasing decisions, are now surrounding mothers from all sides. As the internet developed, the intensity of their “advice” increased proportionately, and all involved are happy to push your partner’s hormonally supercharged buttons. 

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While MommyLand provides immediate access to lots of good information, alarmist, click-bait headlines are common. Mothers are told what to do and not do, and a compulsive approach to mothering is the norm. It’s often a judgmental, guilt and anxiety-inducing realm for a new mother and the last thing she needs.

A mom-to-be is drafted into MommyLand immediately upon a positive pregnancy test, and quickly gets erroneous information that she has already harmed her baby with the one drink she had Friday night. Her new month-by-month bible was described by one of our dads as “400 Ways to Die.” MommyLand hazes her as she runs the gauntlet of pregnancy, birth, and initial motherhood, continually creating new demands on what it means to be “good mother.”  

Throughout history, mostly up until the formation of the internet, we protected new mothers from anything that would take her mind off her baby, especially if it induced stress. No longer.

Keep Her Grounded

Her flood of hormones coupled with MommyLand add substantial, unneeded stress to a new mom’s life, and send her off the tracks of rationality. You can help her lower her stress and maintain balance by helping her stay grounded. (BTW, mommy stress is bad for babies)

Ask her what worries her; don’t disagree with what she says, just listen and let her get it off her chest. Encourage her to tell you everything on her mind and see if you can help her laugh off the more ridiculous stuff.  Suggest she steps away from the keyboard. Tell her she’s going to be a great mom.

Your partner will be able to put Mommyland into perspective by about 4-6 months after your baby arrives (and after her hormones calm down). 

New Moms Are Often Tough on New Dads

The village that historically supported and protected new moms is largely gone, leaving new dads to tend to her overwhelming needs, exacerbated by her hormones and the demands of MommyLand. 

MommyLand largely ignores dads, except to promote exhausted moms’ anger over dad’s deficiencies and serve as an online forum for their complaints. There is no DaddyLand to serve as a counterbalance. Don’t be surprised if you find, no matter how good you are, you are not good enough. It's frustrating when you're doing the job as a father: you are underrated, undervalued, and misunderstood.

The good news for you is MommyLand, which a decade ago used to trash fathers regularly (Mad At Dad, Parenting, 2009 Are Fathers Necessary?, The Atlantic, 2010), has backed off. The theme took a dive in 2011 when Time ran a cover story on Chore Wars pointing out that while moms did more housework, dad spent more time at work. The author, a mom, said parents “have never before had such similar workloads. Quantitatively speaking, we have no grounds to stand on. And it’s time that women — myself included — admit it and move on.”

A Real Solution

We are on to a real solution. For decades, our Boot Camp for New Dads has offered an understanding of new moms, strategies to support them, and advice for enormous patience from new dads. It was a one-way street as moms-to-be reported they gave little thought to dad-to-be, and the notion of understanding and support for him never entered their minds.

Now, our Boot Camp for New Moms features info on new dads; and our “veteran” new moms advise the moms-to-be that they will get the best from Dad if they understand him and get on the same page in working together to build their new family. It also includes techniques taking some of the stress out of motherhood, and how a new mom can make motherhood work for her.

The information on this site comes largely from those workshops.

The combination of workshops is the best thing going for new dads, who afterward feel respect and appreciation from their mates, and a willingness to talk about the challenges they'll likely encounter once their baby arrives. It's also the best thing for new moms, who find a true partnership with Dad is way better than the alternative.

If you and your partner can get to our workshops, you will be happy you did. If you can’t, this website is the next best thing. 

Moms & Dads - The Last Generation

This chart from the American Time Use Survey reflects the recent history of moms and dads. 

 Since 1975, as America's dads tripled their time with their children, instead of giving themselves some time off, America’s moms almost doubled their time with their kids. Children get more than twice as much parent time today than they did in 1975. 

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Despite dads dramatically increasing time spent with their children, most moms, whether back at work or at home, report feeling overwhelmed. No wonder. The drop in time spent for moms between 2004 and 2016 indicates moms are finally taking the “dad dividend” and getting some balance in their lives.  This is a great thing for you to encourage.

On the other hand, in terms of stress, dads have caught up to moms. Researchers have asked moms for decades about stress and blamed their high levels on dads, promoting the notion that after work while she was cooking dinner, he was drinking a beer while watching TV.

They finally asked dads about their stress levels and found that fathers today are just as stressed as mothers (which isn’t good for either of you or your family).

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PEW RESEARCH CENTER: 7 Facts about American Fathers

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You Picked a Great Time to Become a Dad

You’ve got a perfect storm brewing at your back that'll help push you where you'll want to go as a dad. In addition to your own biological drivers, you’re joining a mass movement transforming the role of fathers in America. 

You Have a Strong & Growing Support Network

In 1990, it was unusual to see a father out with his baby, and now they’re all over the place. If you talk to the dads you know or meet about dad stuff, they’ll be all ears and solutions and will tell (or show) you how it’s done. Dads are expanding their skill sets in their own creative ways, and you will too.

You Will Be Closer to Your Child

Your father’s generation stepped up for their children, and yours is building even more fulfilling bonds. You'll be talking to your child more, about things that matter more. You'll look for ways to include him in things you like to do, or maybe come up with new hobbies you do together. 

Mom Will Be Happier with You

Boot Camp for New Moms and the information on this website will help turn your partner into a new mom who understands and appreciates the new dad in her life—most of the time. Dads pitching in, moms and dads on the same page, and strong partnerships result in enlightened, collaborative decisions for your family. All this makes Mom happier and clears the decks for her to make you a bigger priority.

You Are Part of Something Historic

With the state of the world we’re bringing our children into, the timing for this renaissance in fatherhood you’re part of couldn't be any better. This transformation of fathers will help mitigate the massive societal challenges of broken families, hopeless youth, teen pregnancy, and violence—all with a direct relationship to inadequate or absent fathers. Perhaps we can look forward to when failure as a father is no longer an option, and all of our children are better off as a result.

The Media is Finally Getting On Board

Finally, after decades of men stepping up as fathers, the media is finally catching on, just in time for you. The stereotyped idiot dad who can’t do anything right is on the way out, thanks to one dad whose online petition against a Huggies ad went viral. While your overwhelmed, hormonally challenged mate (with nobody to vent at but the slacker who knocked her up) saw a lot of doofus dads in sitcoms, ads, etc. while growing up, she's now also seeing great dads portrayed, like “Jack” in This Is Us.

Your Timing Is Perfect

An amazing thing has happened just in time for your turn at fatherhood: dads are suddenly cool.  We are funny cool with dad jokes having risen from really dumb to a respected genre of comedy (check out Reddit). We are superhero cool with gaining recognition for our innate dad instinct to rescue our babies from all kinds of calamity. Even our flabbier bodies, somehow reflecting the sacrifices we make, are getting respect as “Dad Bods.”  Not that it'll do you any good at the beach, but trust me, few of us dads were cool in any respect before.

Renaissance of Fatherhood in America 

 There's some very good news during these turbulent times in the U.S..  After decades of hearing our national cup of fatherhood is half empty, we can report it is three-quarters full and rising. 

During the decline in stature and involvement of dads, failure became an option for way too many men. Often, their own fathers had failed them and they didn't know how to be a father themselves. Others were pushed out of the role by family breakups, and still others simply didn’t man up to the job. As a result, far too many children did not have a father-figure who loved and cared for them, and far too many men were (and still are) without the love and respect of their own children. 

In contrast, fathers of all types are now embracing the opportunity to be a big part of their children’s lives, taking pride in their important role and discovering the immense joys and rewards children can bring. They are exerting an enormously constructive influence on our families and communities. This transformation in fathers promises to mitigate the massive societal challenges of broken families, hopeless youth, teen pregnancy and even violence, all direct results of inadequate or absent fathers.

We still have a long way to go. We should anticipate a century of progress as dads use their creativity and drive to search for innovative and meaningful ways to contribute to the lives of their children. We will also reach a time soon when our younger brothers and their friends understand that failure as a father is no longer an option.

Throughout history, men have responded to the challenges presented by society. America’s fathers have accepted the challenge to build something important, to take another hill. This time the hill is in our own backyards. 

Dads To the Rescue!

Dads took a detour over the last century in terms of hands-on involvement with their babies, but we're back, on a roll, and on track to make fatherhood better than ever. 

Good timing, guys,  because we're needed more than ever. Moms are stressed out, girls need to toughen up, and boys need to simmer down and stand tall. Cue the fathers on white horses; this nation’s dads are ready to charge the next hill. 

Moms are going to need help learning to lighten up and blow off the small stuff. Luckily, this happens to be one of dad’s strengths. For her, he will step up, relieve her of the onus of always being in charge, and give her a chunk of his inner jester (which she richly deserves) by helping mom cut 20% off her must-do list and amping up her fun.

There is more to do. Our daughters need a dose of dads’ confidence and our sons need a dose of dads’ discipline. Dad, the professional baby wrestler, outdoor/sports specialist, and family CFO (Chief Fun Officer), will take on childhood obesity in his own home. 

The bottom line for fathers today? It’s all good. We are a big part of our children’s lives, which trumps any downside of being a dad. Notice that we blow off all the negativity and nonsense and take a positive, constructive approach and work toward solutions.  Dads will solve any problem thrown their family’s way – it's our dad DNA. Dads can fix anything.

Welcome to serious manhood!

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