COLUMN: Different dads: a sign of the times

At the library, I often see dads and kids spending an afternoon reading together or playing games.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that gender roles have changed drastically over the past 30 years.

When I was a kid, my Dad used to get up, perk the coffee in the pot my Mom had prepared the night before, go to the same job he worked for 40 plus years and come home at exactly the same time every day to enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee my Mom had ready for him with some type of home-baked treat.

If I make it sound like my Dad had it easy, in some ways I suppose he did in comparison with the roles dads are assuming today.

On the other hand, he also worked two jobs, worked shifts for all of his life and did all the home maintenance, driving and yard work.

He didn’t play much of a role in parenting, which wasn’t unusual for that era, but if he raised his voice, we knew we were in serious trouble.

Dads today participate in family life in diverse ways.

Many still work two jobs but most are much more involved with child-rearing and much more likely to get in the kitchen to either cook or clean up.

At the library, I often see dads and kids spending a quiet afternoon reading together or playing games.

I also see many grandfathers bringing grandchildren in to choose towering stacks of books.

My own father, an immigrant, didn’t learn to read cohesively until my Mom declared “It’s your turn!” when my little brother was starting school.

I’ll never forget the two of them bent over fairy tales every night, struggling through the story together.

We chuckle about it now but I realize how important it was for them to share that time and also how liberating it was for Mom to delegate that small part of ‘her job’.

With more and more women working longer hours outside the home, it’s become essential for Dads to take on previously unconventional roles.

In fact, what was considered unusual in my parenting days, is quite commonplace now.

How interesting it will be to see how my grandkids approach family life when they grow up!

Dads can find some great books at the library including: “Touching My Father’s Soul” by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, “A Boy Made of Blocks” by Keith Stuart and my very favourite “Reading With Dad” by Richard Jorgensen.

To celebrate Father’s Day, we will be hosting mini-golf on the Reader’s Terrace at the library, Saturday, June 17 from 10 a.m. to noon. All kids and dads (or granddads, uncles, neighbours or moms) are welcome to shoot nine Summerland-inspired holes.

See if you can land your shot in Darke Lake and chip to score your final points at hole #9 – The Packing House.

This is the first day to register for the Summer Reading Club, our popular program for school-aged readers.

Sue Kline is the community librarian at the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and will celebrate her Dad at his 84th birthday barbecue.

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