Parenting isn’t what it used to be. Every generation brings new child-raising challenges and new hurdles for parents to overcome. Of course, this is a huge benefit for dads, as we have the opportunity to be involved in our children’s lives in a way that our own fathers perhaps did not. On the other hand, we also have a few extra responsibilities our fathers did not have on their plates.
What are some of the biggest differences between our parenting and our fathers’ parenting? Here are a few things today’s dads do that previous generations of dads did not:
Share the parenting and household work equally
For our parents’ generation, moms took on most of the burden of what’s called the “second shift” all of that work involved in caring for children that comes after a full day of working in the office. Even when dads volunteered to help with homework or take the kids out to the backyard so mom could fix dinner, moms still felt like they were handling the bulk of the work.
Not anymore. Today’s dads are proactive, stepping up to handle an equal burden of the parenting and household load. The stereotype of the dad who doesn’t know his kids’ teachers names or their pediatrician’s phone number is over.
Teach internet safety
This is a big one, and I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle it with my own kids. Parents these days need to teach children about safe surfing, how to handle social media, and how to both prevent and manage cyber bullying.
Luckily, there are great resources at www.staysafeonline.org to help us prepare our kids to be good digital citizens. Right now, my little girls only know that the internet is the place where they watch movies and chat with Grandma, but when they’re ready to learn more, I need to be ready to teach them.
Manage health insurance and life insurance
Your dad probably didn’t think too much about health insurance and life insurance; it was all taken care of for him, by his employer. Now, of course, times have changed. Even if your health and life insurance are taken care of by your company, you still have to sort between multiple policy offerings and choose the one that is best for you and your family. You also have to manage copays, flexible spending accounts, and other factors your dad didn’t even have to consider.
If your health and life insurance aren’t taken care of by your company, you need to step up to the plate and find your family a suitable policy. Luckily, there are many good options out there; sites like www.simplifiedissuelifeinsurance.com offer life insurance online, and there are plenty of ways to find the best types of policies for your family.
Prepare for college costs
When my parents went to college, they were able to pay for an entire year’s worth of classes with a single three-month summer job. When I went to college, my parents weren’t aware of exactly how much college costs had risen; I’m one of the many graduates with $50,000 in student loans. My wife and I want to make sure our children have better options.
So: in addition to our girls’ 529 plans, we’re also preparing them to excel in school so that they can get scholarships and help defer the cost of their educations. Right now, that means a lot of reading aloud — reading to your kids is one of the best predictors of educational success. Plus, it means I get to share my favorite books with them. I don’t remember my dad ever reading to me, but my girls and I are halfway through The Hobbit.
What about you? What do you do for your kids that your dad did not? And how do you think parenting has changed over the past generation?