Fatherâ€™s Day cards need a serious update.
Take a glance down the Hallmark aisle in the store, and what you see are cards about grilling, fishing, golf or mowing the lawn. Skim the text, and itâ€™s all about the stoic dad who didnâ€™t say much but expressed his love in other ways.
I stood in the card section with my son for more than 20 minutes trying to find a card that fit the modern-day dad because these cards donâ€™t describe the dads I see all around me. The dads I see are bouncing babies in the foyer. Theyâ€™re whisking cream and parmesan to make alfredo sauce for dinner. Sometimes they work from a home office, and sometimes they commute, but they donâ€™t sit on the couch at 5:30 p.m. to watch sports and read the paper. The dads I see change diapers and know just the right temperature for a warm bottle of milk.
The days of the Atticus Finch dad are over. He parented through distance, neglect and carefully chosen words. He was the invisible hand who guided his childrenâ€™s service projects. His affection came through only after his children slept.
Dads of today are more affectionate than ever. They hug their kids and tuck them into bed. They know the ins and outs of Dr. Seuss. They recognize that just as fatherhood has changed, so has motherhood. You find them taking the kids to the park so mom can work on her blog, study for class, teach an exercise class or simply get a break.
I see all of this as a good thing. More than ever, kids need their dads not as a mysterious, statue-like presence at the dinner table, but as a parent who will play ball in the backyard, talk about the future, take a son home teaching or instruct a daughter on how to tie a shoelace.
As a mother of four boys, I see the dad factor as more important than ever. Something remarkable happens with boys, and Iâ€™ve watched it happen with each of my children in turn â€“ they adore me the first six years of life. I am the shining star. Then, almost to the day of their sixth birthday, family life is all about dad. They canâ€™t get enough of him.
I love watching that switch, observing how my boys clamor at Dadâ€™s heels for wrestling, board games, camping trips and bedtime stories. The dads of today are ready for this because theyâ€™ve been there all along.
Even as popular media try to project the image of a potbellied dad who plays video games and hangs out at the bar or who stands on the back porch grilling ribs, I see the rise of the Renaissance Dad, the remarkable person who cooks, cleans, supports a wife in her creative endeavors, and is not content to watch his children grow while he sits on the couch.
Itâ€™s time to rewrite the stereotype and also the dismal line-up of Fatherâ€™s Day cards.
Follow her blog, "The Tiffany Window," at http://thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com.