Taking a Look at Fatherhood


Dads are often the first heroes in their young children's lives. Dads chase away ghosts in the closet, let their daughters dance on their toes and teach their sons how to win the heart of their first crush.

The first Father's Day a new dad spends with his growing family can be quite memorable, as celebrating one's fatherhood for the first time is a unique and special time. Spouses and other family members can go the extra mile to make this year that much more special for first-time fathers.

Let Dad sleep in. Chances are Dad is enamored with his little bundle of joy, but it's well-known that being a new father often means sacrificing sleep time - especially for the first several months to a year of that child's life. Enlist the help of a family member who can be on baby watch while Dad gets to sleep in on the weekend of his big day. With some extra sleep, Dad can enjoy Father's Day that much more.

Create a first-year memory book. Take the time to put together a scrapbook of the photos and moments baby and Dad have gotten to spend together. So much focus is often placed on a new baby and his or her mother that Dad may be left playing second fiddle. Make it clear that fathers are key to their children's development and happiness, too.

Make a baby keepsake. Use washable ink so that baby can sign a Father's Day card with a hand or footprint. The tradition can be repeated year after year until the child is old enough to write.

Go overboard on gifts. The idea isn't to buy Dad's love, but Dad's first Father's Day is a truly unique time. On behalf of his firstborn, purchase a few different gifts - those items that he has been interested in buying but has resisted in favor of saving money for new onesies and burp cloths. Or invest in one special event gift, such as tickets to a game to see his favorite team or a concert to catch a favorite band.

Boost his ego. Get matching T-shirts for baby and Dad with cute memes and sayings, such as "Couch Potato" and "Tater Tot."

Father's Day comes once a year. However, a father's very first Father's Day occurs just once. Use the opportunity to pamper Dad so he can savor this truly special experience.



Father's Day arrives the third Sunday in June and presents a special way to show the fathers in one's life how much they are cherished. People shower dads with gifts but may not know just how Father's Day came to be.

The concept of Father's Day was inspired by Mother's Day celebrations and was initiated by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, who wanted to do something to honor her single father. The concept of Father's Day was slow to take root. However, the retail industry helped propel Father's Day to a national holiday.

In the early days of Father's Day, Dodd worked with her local YMCA and local churches to adopt what was supposed to be a religiously influenced holiday. But in the early 1900s, dads did not necessarily have the same hands-on role that many fathers have today. Cartoons published in newspapers, such as the Washington Star in 1913, portrayed Dad as the breadwinner and a distant fellow who wasn't as involved as his wife in day-to-day interaction with his children. A 1915 issue of the St. Johns Herald and Apache News from Arizona joked that fathers probably didn't want another holiday and would be more content to drink, smoke and sleep in late. Dodd and others realized that marketing would be key to Father's Day's success.

Clothing manufacturers, people who made tobacco and other merchants of products made for men found Father's Day a way to sell merchandise. It just took a while for them to come around.

A Father's Day Council was started in the 1930s and was propelled by a group called the New York Associated Menswear Retailers. Many people joke that, because neckties are so often given on Father's Day, the necktie industry must've had a hand in endorsing Father's Day. And there is truth to that. The council was responsible for selling shirts, hats and, of course, neckties.

In 1938, the National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day was formed, primarily due to poor menswear retail sales. Dry goods, clothing and tobacco associations help promote Father's Day, and after they held a "Father's Day Sports Day" parade in 1941, Father's Day sales increased, and the holiday became more popular.


Help New Fathers Bond with Their Babies

New fathers can strengthen the bonds they have with their newborns in various ways. 

The birth of a child is a momentous occasion in the lives of parents. First-time parents may be especially moved upon seeing the birth of their child, having never before witnessed something so profound.

When the time comes for parents to leave the hospital and take their newborns home, new moms and dads take on different roles. Moms who are nursing or handling the bulk of the bottle-feeding while spending a few months on maternity leave may appear to have more opportunities than fathers to bond with their new babies. But there are many ways for new dads to bond with newborns as well.

  • Hold your baby as often as possible. Pediatrician David Hill, author of the book "Between Us Dads: A Father's Guide to Child Health," says bonding between father and newborn has as much to do with contact as involvement. Many first-time parents are understandably nervous about holding their newborns, who seem so fragile. But newborns benefit from being held, and Hill notes that a bond will develop between father and baby if there is physical contact.
  • Find ways to spend time together. Fathers might not be able to pitch in at feeding time if mothers are nursing. Because newborns spend so much time being nursed and sleeping, fathers may feel as though they don't have much time to spend with their babies each day. But any time spent with a newborn can be a time for fathers to develop bonds with their children. Time spent changing diapers can prove to be a great time for fathers to bond with their newborns. Make eye contact with babies while changing their diapers, as Psych Central, an independent mental health social network run by mental health professionals, notes that babies have a preference for eye contact.
  • Spend alone time with your newborn. Fathers of newborns who are being nursed may feel like their is no ideal time to spend along with their children. But mothers, especially those who work and intend to keep breastfeeding after their maternity leave ends, can learn to use a breast milk pump so dads can bottle-feed. Learning to eat from a bottle will help babies in the long run, and dads can get some quality alone time with their newborns while bottle feeding. Fathers of babies who are bottle-fed can spend more time alone with their children, and give moms a much-needed break, without the fear of having nothing to feed them should they get hungry while mom is away.
  • Help your baby fall back asleep. Nursing mothers may feel inclined to wake up with their newborns in the middle of the night and let dad keep sleeping. But babies are not necessarily waking up in the middle of the night due to hunger. Some might simply need to be comforted, and dads can comfort their children just like moms can, all the while strengthening their developing bond.


Changing Parenting Roles for Dads

Dads are increasingly stepping up as primary caregivers in modern families.

Parenting roles continue to evolve as families look for solutions that meet all of their needs. In an effort to meet the financial demands of raising a family, parents may be taking on less traditional roles. For example, many fathers are now stay-at-home dads.

The number of stay-at-home fathers continues to climb. The Pew Research Center indicates that roughly 550,000 men have become full-time stay-at-home parents in the previous 10 years.

Economics have forced many couples to make less traditional decisions for their families. The National At-Home Dad Network says the stay-at-home dad is a growing trend because men want to be more involved with their kids.

The following factors may give families pause to consider swapping parental stereotypes in favor of stay-at-home fathers.

  • Earning potential: Money is very often a factor in deciding that Mom will be the breadwinner and Dad will be the caregiver. In the event one parent earns considerably more money than the other, and paying for childcare so both parents can work would be a detriment to the family, it can make sense to have the higher earner be the sole breadwinner.
  • Personalities: Some women simply see themselves thriving more in the workforce than as a primary caregiver at home, while some dads want to be home with their children and do not measure success in job titles or income. These scenarios make the stay-at-home dad model more plausible.
  • Open-mindedness: If the situation does not affect the children, and grandparents and other supportive people in the kids' lives are amenable to the idea, then accepting less traditional roles can be successful.

Traditional family roles are increasingly falling by the wayside as both men and women put their families first and make decisions based on what's best for all members of the family. 

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