My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.” “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”
~Harmon Killebrew, Professional Baseball Player
I remember my grandmother telling me how she kept my grandfather a happy man while raising children in the early 1900’s. He went to work every day while she took care of the house and children. She told me that the children were always fed and bathed before he came home from work. He’d play with the children for half an hour. The children would then be put to bed and my grandmother and grandfather would have dinner and the evening by themselves. They were married 67 years and seemed to be totally enamored of each other right up until the end.
In the 1940’s and 50’s when I was growing up, most mothers were homemakers. Fathers supported the family. My brother and I would see my father in the evenings. Sometimes he worked late and sometimes he worked weekends. My father was my hero. Even though I did not see as much of him as I did my mother, he was still a constant. He could fix anything. He taught me how to ride a bike and how to roller-skate. He played baseball with my brother. Unfortunately, he was also the enforcer as most fathers were in those days. The threat, because of any perceived breaking of the rules, would be “wait until your father gets home.” He would come home tired after a long day at work to a wife who was upset with the child and with the expectation that the child needs a good talking to or spanking. I’m sure it was not a happy time for him. He probably just wanted to come home to a serene house, read the newspaper and relax. My grandfather had it a lot easier than my father did.
In the 60’s and 70’s, sometimes the parents were divorced and the children shuttled back and forth. Parents competed for the child’s affections. This was hard on the children as well as the parent who with custody. When I was raising my children the mother always got custody and the father saw the children on weekends. All he had to do was have a great weekend planned with lots of junk food. The child was sent back to mom who had to be the “bad guy” because she was basically raising the children by herself as well as holding down a job.
In todays families, Dad works, Mom works and they share household duties. Fathers are much more active in their children’s lives than they were in the past. My son is extremely involved in all of his daughter’s activities. He takes them on outings most Saturdays so mom can have time to herself. He helps around the house. My son-in-law is the same. His daughters play sports and he supports them in all that they do. He is a lot like my father in that he can fix anything around the house and keeps the cars in good repair. Both of these fathers seem to be quite happy with their wives, their children, and their lives.
When people talk about the good old days and how great they were, I say I don’t think so. Today and tomorrow are the good new days for children and their fathers. I love my father, but my childhood would have been happier if my father had been as available to me as my son and son-in-law are to their children.
On behalf of all sons and daughters everywhere, I say thank you Dad for showing me how to be the best me that I can be.
– Annie Davis