« Egg Donor IVF in Cape Town, South Africa | Main | A question for the geeks »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think the most interesting statement that you made was where you said that your job understands that you can't work long hours because you have kids, but Marko's employer doesn't.

Isn't it sad that our cultures don't expect dads to be available for their kids as much as they expect moms to be available? When did we as a society decide that kids needed their dads less than their moms? Why do we put so much pressure on our employees, with our without children, that they feel like they have to trade personal liberty for a decent wage? When did working hard for 8 hours a day become not enough?

Spending a few hours with our son every day is a high priority to my husband. He has passed up some career oppertunities so that his schedule is mercifully relaxed. His salary is enough to provide for us, but he has given up the fast track so that he can be around more.

If his salary weren't enough, it would be nice if I could help share the financial load by working what was neccessary so that he could be available to his kids, too. I just wish that everyone had the chance to spend the time with their kids that they really want.

IMHO, a good father is one that has a relationship with his child(ren). The quality of a relationship between a parent and a child is not directly proportional to the amount of time said parent spends with said child. A parent of either gender could spend 8hr a day in the same proximity as the child and still be a poor parent, likewise a parent may only see their child for an hour, but that hour may be spent interacting with the child, getting to really know the child, being involved in whatever way is necessary.

That said, I can only really speak of my experience.
I grew up with a SAHM and a father that worked two jobs out of necessity. He wasn't a bad father - he was doing what he had to so that there would be a roof over his family's head. However, my father and I didn't have much of a relationship until my mother entered the work force and he was forced to spend more time with us (and that new amount time was only on the order of an hour or two a day). Prior to that, all childcare "issues" belonged to my mother. My dad was the person who showed up for dinner between working. Could he have gotten to know us better in his busier days? Probably. But there was no real pressure to do so, as Mom had everything under control. He just went with the flow.

I can tell you that I am glad for those later years because they forced my dad to get to know his kids better. (incidentally, at the same time he became a more attentive spouse according to my mother, so it may have been an all-over wake up call)

I find this a very interesting question and one that I think everyone does have a different answer for. I'm very lucky that I as well have a very flexible job. My interests right now very much lie in trying to make sure my family is taken care of as my DH's time is very limited with us right now, but it is temporary. He travels a lot for his current job, he's in school for his MBA every other weekend, he's got a lot of homework to get done at home, and his job does take him a lot of hours while he's home as well.

But we make the most of it. We both provide financially for our family, and he is very involved in parenting our daughter in my opinion. And I think that's the important part. He's there when we need him, and we all have a good time together. My DH and I also have a very good relationship and love each other very much. My DH appreciates how I've been taking care of the extra burden now that he started school this year. I think our daughter is getting a very good education in how a married couple can work together as a team, and I think that's as important to her development as a person as if her Dad comes to all her ice skating practices (which he doesn't right now).

Good question. Because someone has to stay home with Katie (she's autistic - day care simply isn't an option) my husband is gone 11 hours a day (2 of them commuting.) He's home and awake with her about 3 hours a night. Usually he bathes her (this is mostly in prep for number 2, who I will undoubtedly be the only one to bathe for quite a while) and about one nigt a week I disappear (either a hobby group with frieds, or locked upstairs in our room decompressing.) He has gotten better about spending time with her and doing the admin stuff - especially on the weekend. But that is partially because he has jusr recently realized exactly how difficult/how much work it is to stay home with her all day (I was ill for a few days and he stayed home toi watch her - a huge eye opener for him!) and how she acts differently during the day then the last few hours she's awake at night. So for our situation, he's a good father. But, and here's the key, every situation is different. I think what makes one man a good father may make another one a crappy one. It's all very situational.

My husband and I are not seeing eye to eye on this right now. He recently took a new job that has him traveling 50-75 percent of the time. I was crushed that he even considered the offer.
To me a better father would have taken a less-demanding job, even if it paid less and has less prospect for the future. To him, the higher paying job made him a better provider and therefore a better father. And btw his busy work schedule severely limits MY ability to advance MY career.

I usually don't voice my opinion, but I would like to with this. I disagree with you on this topic. I believe what makes a good father is a dad who spends quality time with their kids. I live in Mississippi, USA. Before I finally got pg, we made $50,000 a year together. I had to go on bedrest, because of the pg. I then lost my job after my children were born and were in the NICU. Our income was cut in half. My children were in the NICU for 4 months and my husband rarely worked, because we drove 2 hours one way trip to see the kids. After they came home, my husband went back to work. He took another position so he would be home every day and only work 8 hours aday. We have a very big house payment, two cars, etc... We had to do without a lot of things we were used to because we BOTH need to have time with the kids. My boys are so happy to see their daddy come home after he works 8 hours aday. Yes, we all do without certain things, but we are all happy and are very loved. I never had a dad when I was growing up. I believe that is one of the worst things. It was just me and my mom. She did everything in her power to be the best mom and she was. She only worked 8 hour days to make sure she was there for me. We did without (we lived in a trailer park, had a 10 year old car, had clothes from a cheap store) but I was happy and loved. I can't understand why people would rather have certain things than to be with their children. I never wanted to be a stay at home mom and if my children had not been so sick (developmentally delayed, therapy, hearing loss, feeding issues etc...), then I would have probably worked. But it took this to realize what our family needed and that is a mom, dad and kids that spend time together. My husband had a chance to make a lot more money, but many hours away from home. He decided that spending time with his family was more important than having more money. My kids do have a home, clothes, food, insurance, toys, etc... but we do without other things. I am not trying to step on anyone's toes. I am not saying anyone is wrong for doing what they do. Every family is different, but this is what is best for my family. Tertia, I am glad you are happy with the way your family does things, that is all that matters. One more thing I would like to add, I never thought we could live off of $25,000 a year with 2 kids, but it can be done. A lot of things can be done when it needs to be done, some people just don't want to believe it or try it. And hats off to ALL stay at home moms, stay at home working moms and working moms. We all have difficult jobs, but the joy of it all are the kids.

Why do WE have to judge at all? The only judgement that counts is the judgement of the child(ren). Assigning levels of "goodness" to parenting is pointless. While some aspects of a parent might be "good" - she stays at home all day with her kids, there might be some "bad" that goes with it - she drinks/smokes/watches soap operas in front of them. Kids can be ignored with a parent who is physically present, but not mentally present. Parenting is not one size fits all.

Some things that my friends husbands do would drive ME insane. There is no such thing as a "perfect" husband - as it depends on the wife in question. Likewise, there is no such thing as a "perfect" father - or mother - they don't exist. All you can hope for is that when your kids grow up, that they can see you did your best and that you love them. THAT is what a good parent is.

Ditto to the above. A good father (or mother for that matter) is just a parent who tries to do the best they can with whatever resources they have available. Measuring it by a scale of income, time, etc. isn't fair to those who have limited resources but are still doing a fine job despite the hardships.

My father was mostly hands-off when we were little and only became more involved as we grew into talking, thinking people. It was also the 70s in small-town Texas so no big surprise there. Sad thing is, my sister still lives there and her husband is very much like our dad. My husband, on the other hand, is very much involved with the daily care of our 1 year-old daughter. Feeding, diaper changes, baths, everything. He even cooks -I have a true gem, I know! We are both lucky that our employers are somewhat sypathetic to us having a young child and the attendant doctor visits, etc. We have both stayed home with her when she's sick without too much hassle.

I feel for those parents who are on shift-work and do not have the flexibility of an office job or the ability to tele-commute like my husband. I have often said that every working mother needs a "wife" at home.

Brandy, I respect what you've done very much, but in the part of the US where I live, you can't live a non-subsistance lifestyle for that little money. Heck, even as a grad student, my expenses are a significant percentage of that amount. If I want my (future) children to live near their grandparents, then I probably will have to work, at least part-time. But that is MY reality, not yours, and that's okay. I chose the field I'm getting my grad degree in partly because of the the flexibility it will allow me.

When I first met my S.O., he said very early on that he had chosen his job specifically _because_ of the reasonable hours, and that he'd rather be able to devote that time to the people in his life instead of getting paid more. And yeah, that's when I knew.

Am still mulling this over...but...what I'm also mulling over is...when we ask what makes a man a "Good Father," are we talking about his relationship with his kids, with his wife and/or with his employer? For example, if a Dad works very long hours to provide for his family and/or to protect his career so he can provide for family in the long term, but he falls short (in someone's eyes) in (for example) child care responsiblities (i.e. wife does 90% of it), is he a good Dad, a good Employee but a bad Husband? Are we using the term "Father" to mean all of these things? How high does a man have to score in each category to be a "Good Father"? It may be helpful in this discussion to think about how each component (Dad, Husband, Employee) weighs into the bigger picture of "Good Father" - and how the grading scale is different for what makes a "Good Mother." LOVE this discussion.

Good enough mom or dad? Shit, Im still trying to figure out if Im a good enough WIFE lol.

Seeing as how I complain already that dh's job keeps us apart too much (we work opposite shifts, and he works too many hours, imo), I would fully favor a lower-level job that lets Dad be home more often. Much like how a mom that works a 12-hour day "cant" be a "good" mom, I think that 12 hours for dads is also too much. The occasional business trip or long-ass day is okay, as I think that men should be primary bread winners when babies are involved (sorry, working and infants is way too much for me to even think about handling). Kids need to see their dads as much as possible. Thankfully (purposely?), dh and I agree on this stuff so far.

But back to the wife thing: I work less and make WAY less than dh (by choice), and already have trouble reconciling the fact that doing laundry, cooking almmost everything in our house from scratch, doing all the food shopping, and keeping us from drowning in clutter are enough to "equal" what he brings home in his paycheck. It is sad to think that literally the only chore he has is to empty the kitchen trash, and I have to remind myself that if I wasnt "good" enough, he would say something. It really is sad how much we WOMEN (not just mothers!) beat ourselves up!!! >:p

Having Father A and Father B is far too simplistic. What about Father C? He works around 50 hours a week and spends an hour in the morning and 2 or 3 hours at night with his children, and is there on weekends rain or shine. His wife stays home with the child/children, so it is considered more her job to keep the house up, get up in the middle of the night with the children, etc., etc.

That is my husband. We are able to do that and it works well.

I was a bit late in getting in your mother debate, but when push comes to shove I don't think any of us would disagree that no one can love my baby more than my husband or I. I take care of another baby in my home and just don't feel that motherly affection for her that I do for my own baby. It's interesting though, if her mom wasn't working I wouldn't have the opportunity to make a little more so it would be easier to stay home with L! Anyway, the other baby gets wonderful care, but the motherly huggy/fuzzy instinct thing is not there. I don't know her ins and outs, what she looked like the day she was born, the silly little things she does, etc. Now if I take care of her long enough I will discover those things, but I feel bad that her mom can't be there to have those special times with her daughter.

I think the women's movement has set women BACK as far as the women working/staying at home/having it all thing goes. You CAN'T have it all and do a perfect job, like someone else says. Hell, you can't stay at home and do a perfect job of it either.

I will be honest, Tertia, sometimes I look at the things you get to buy your kids, or your house, and think, "Man, she could stay home if she REALLY wanted to", but then there is this little tidbit that I just realized I was forgetting...let's say your husband makes 5 dollars a week (just throwing arbitrary numbers out there; that's not the point.) You stay home, you guys aren't making it, especially with 2 babies. You go to work as well, and together you and Marko make 10 dollars a week. You make it fine, plus have extra money to get nice things for you and the babes. You would probably NEED 7 dollars a week just to make it and have no extras, but Marko doesn't MAKE 7 dollars a week. Alone he only makes 5. So that is impossible. So, you end up with the aforementioned $10 a week, which allows you guys to make it, plus have some extras. As silly as this sounds I never had thought of it that way. I sort of thought of it as, "You either sacrifice everything and stay home with the babies", or "You both work and you make loads of money." Yes, you are making that extra over-the-top amount because both of you work, but without your job at all you wouldn't even be making it. Does this make sense? So, basically I guess what I am saying is that in a way it is all-or-nothing. You either make a little or a lot more than that, because both of you are working. And I can tend to be more judgemental than I think, and I am really working on that. I think growing up in sort of a more-judgemental-than-not family has made me that way. We are also quite skeptical.

I DO however believe that many say they can't do it and don't realize, like Brandy said, that they could if they really wanted to. In very few cases is the "We just can't do it" a valid argument.

Anyway, I think that in a perfect world moms or dads would get to raise their babies day-to-day. And, that is true about the moms being "bad" if they don't stay home, but then the dads aren't thought of that way at all if they don't stay at home. This is probably due more to women being the homemakers historically than anything else, but things they are a-changing! There is no doubt in my mind that A and K are at the top of your list. Little beauties for sure!

Brandy I agree with what you wrote. I guess for most people they COULD do it, but just don't want to sacrifice alot of things. I always think of myself on my death bed...would I rather think, "Gee, I had some nice cars, and the kids got to go to those cool camps!" or "It was so awesome to be the one she woke up to after her naps, hear her first word, be able to personally blow her nose when she's sick, etc., etc., etc."...I chose the latter. It saddens me that in our society the kids are getting lower and lower on the priority list. Quantity of time spent with them is so important. They need their moms and dads.

I like this forum where you allow everyone to discuss. Much of the reason your blog is so popular. OH, and you are a fabulous writer, duh! :)


A good father, or parent for that matter, is one who teaches his/her children to be good people, to be kind, and to respect life. It is irrelevant how or when it is done, just that it is done.
Just my opinion....

I didn't respond to your working-mother post b/c though I am a working mom in a professional career to which I'm very committed, I don't consider myself a "ladder climber" and thus not qualified to comment on that.

Fatherhood, though...I've got a few things to say about that.

First, a question: Shouldn't there be a Father C in our comparison? The father who stays home and/or is the primary caregiver for the child(ren)? I think we as a society need to get in the habit of thinking/talking about that as an option. Many men are well suited to this role, but I think a lot of parents don't consider it simply b/c it never occurred to them.

My husband is one of those types. He'd love nothing more than to be home with our son all day. And damned if he isn't better at it than me, too.

Unfortunately, neither one of us makes enough money to support the whole family. (I guess we are stupid idealists--both committed to doing work that we love, that we feel is important, instead of what will make us the most money.)

So we make the best of our situation. Grandma has cared for our son part-time since he was a few months old. As a result, he has an incredible relationship with her--the kind I could never imagine having had with my own grandmothers. For the rest of the care we needed, we found a part-time daycare provider so excellent that she's practically part of the family. Are these two amazing women somehow bad for our son? No way. They've enriched his life and ours in ways hubby and I could never have managed.

Perhaps it helps that hubs and I (despite our decidedly unimpressive pay) both have careers that enrich and are enriched by our parenting. (I work for a publisher of parenting books; hubs is a teacher and family therapist.) Both of our employers understand that family comes first, and they practice what they preach. And b/c hubs is a teacher, he does get to be a stay-at-home dad for a couple of months every summer.

My husband has always taken it for granted that we would be equally "present" parents. He's made good on it, too. I'm always a bit perplexed when I come across dads who assume that anything that has to do with the kids is mom's job. It's not like my husband is some ultra-modern whippersnapper, either. He's 13 years older than me and came from a super-traditional upbringing in a very small, conservative, rural town.

This seems to have become a big post about how great my husband is. That's not what I mean to say.... Just trying to present a "type" of dad that seems quite uncommon, and ask why that is.

Hi Tertia. This is the first time I have had the courage to add a comment to your blog. I am probably the luckiest woman in the world. My husband works a 3.5 day week (which is full time for his job) and is at work normally from 7.30 until 5.30 on the full days he is there. He is very hands on, changes nappies, bathes the baby and even cooks dinner when he gets home from work. (In my defence he actually loves cooking and I don't. Also he is a much better, more imaginative cook than I'll ever be). His job? He is a doctor (specialist now so good money).

I probably sound like I am gloating, but really wanted to say you have made me realise how lucky I am to have a 'good' father for our child in all ways, hands on, financial and admin. I am confident that he and I will be equal partners in the no doubt difficult task of bringing our daughter up in the crazy world in which we live. I do find it sad that some fathers need to be away from their children so much in order to be able to keep a roof over their heads, however I completely understand why it is necessary. Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Shelter food and warmth are up there along with love; as long as the child is getting those in whatever combination from each parent than that is what I would call 'good' parenting.

Thank you.

We have a unique situation at my house which for us works perfectly. My DH is a resturaunt manager and I work in an office. I have weekends off and he has Monday and Tuesday off. I work from 7:30 - 4:30 and he works from 9-6. This means that 2 days a week I have Annie alone, 2 days he does, 3 days a week he brings her to daycare and 3 days a week I pick her up. Of course we forgo time together as a family like most do on the weekends, but each of us know what it's like to raise our daughter. She goes to daycare 3 days a week and that has done wonders for her social skills.

Some families wouldn't go for this. I admit it's hard that we can't ever give each other "a break" but this is what is working for us.

In my opoion both examples are good father. The 1st one the father is providing the family, so the wife and the kids can have a good life, things they want. The 2nd one, even though the father is providing less, but he's contributing by helping out with kids and household chores. So neither is better than the other.
Personally I had it good (Bragging time :). My husband works 8 hours (thank you Govn't job), no o/t, no travling, and he makes enough that I don't have to work. And when he gets home, he helps out with the kids and household chores. So I have it better part of the both sides.

Neither father is better, I don't think... just different. Dang I got long-winded and forgot to answer this one! Anyway, as long as the mother and father are both feeling like things are working well, I think it's great. HOWEVER, if one is feeling like she/he is doing the majority of the work at home as WELL as working outside the home and doesn't feel like that's fair, I think that's something worth discussing.

Another factor - I know with my husband and I, he always said we didn't even need to have kids. So I think more of the rearing falls on me, because, in essence, I was the one who wanted to stay at home, do the mom thing, etc. I think if I worked and then we shared parenting responsibilities he would really resent me. It was just always sort of understood that I would do more of the diapers/feeding, etc...and although he is very involved, I still have to get up iwth her in the night, etc., do more of the "less fun" stuff, if you will. It works for us just fine.

I didn't even answer the question. Bloody hell. I am more long-winded than an Iowa tornado.

A good parent is one that does the best that they can and wants better for their kids then they themselves had. (unless they themselves had it very good then they would of course want to give their children something of simaler value) That be it. It applies to both. It has nothing to do with who works or who doesn't or even in my opinion how much time you have to spend with your kids, although time spending is a good idea.

When my first was on his way, my husband and I were faced with a daunting decision...what to do once the baby arrived. Would I return to work? Would I stay home? Would he stay home? How long?

Returning to work was my last choice, and I have fought it tooth and nail for the past 6 years (and let the credit card bills show how hard it has been). So, we had to decide which of us would try to stay home and raise our child, because having one of us home was something we wanted IF we could make it work (weren't sure then).

It actually made sense for me to go to work and hubby to stay home, minus the whole breastfeeding thing. I'm not a pumper, so that kind of put a kink in the old dad-at-home plan. So, he's been the one at work. He's amazing. When he walks through that door, no matter what kind of a shitty day he has had at work, he's Mr. Dad. I'm off the clock, basically. He feeds the kids, plays with them in the yard, bathes them, readies them for bed, and hands off the baby to me for a nightcap. I'm around, but the pressure is off to be 110% involved as I had been all day. If the kids get up in the middle of the night, he insists on being the one to take care of it. I don't know what I did to deserve him, but he's definitely a keeper!

Now, he likes his job, but it isn't all a bed of roses. So, our GRAND PLAN is for me to go back to work in a couple of years and HIM to stay home, get some post-grad work in, whatever. We've made it this far - we can do anything.

My husband gives everything he has to our kids when he's around. That's all I ask of him. He's a terrific dad!

Perfect follow-up to the mother+career post!

I think what makes a good father is a lot of the same qualities that make a good husband. Genuinely caring about the wellbeing and happiness of your wife (and kids), and being willing to change some aspects of your life to help them to be happy. A father who loves his family deeply and works long hard hours to keep them financially solvent, stealing what "quality time" he can on weekends...is a good father. A father who pays lip service to loving his family and works long hard hours to keep them financially solvent, but thinks that that is ALL he should ever have to do (no diaper changing, no homework helping, no household duties)? He is not a good father, because he is missing the point. I keep thinking about the woman who commented that her husband wanted children, but he didn't want to have to change his life. Scary.

Good parenting is not about the amount of time spent with the kid so much as it is about the quality of the time that is spent, and making sure whoever is looking after them loves and respects them. My Dad is a professor, so a lot of the time when he was at home he was working at marking exams or writing a book, but we still had a good relationship. He could have ignored me except to yell at me for disturbing his work, but since he liked having kids he played with me and my sister and got us involved in his gardening projects. My husband's dad was often out of work, but didn't hang out with the kids when he had more time, he ignored them except to yell, and his wife continued to work full time and manage the house. It's not the unemployment that made him a less than stellar father, it's that fact that he didn't value the time with his kids.

The caring and ability to sometimes be selfless in the interests of the kids is what's important in both mothers and fathers, but the modern workplace does not allow for men to have to do "soccer-mom" duties, nor does it allow for the fact that having to take your kid to the doctor does not make you any less of a career woman (as long as your productivity doesn't suffer).

It sucks that Marko can't get some flexibility from his work, and I'm sure it's partly because of him being a male parent. That's not a measure of his devotion though, it's a measure of his job being a bit mean.

I read an interesting tidbit this nmorning: the first female governor of a US state to give birth while in office (to twins no less!) found early on that having her children present at a public rally counted against her because people assumed that she would not be focusing properly on the job if her kids were present. How many male politicians roll out their cute kids at support rallies to show how they are "family men"?

Double Standard. For Sure.

I think a good dad is one that cares about and loves his kids. Period. I don't think you can equate how many hours he works or how many business trips he takes with how devoted he is to his children. When he's there, he's there. He's rolling around on the floor, he's making bottles, he's giving baths, he's kissing that fat little belly, he's calling from the road and asking to "talk" to an 8 month old that he knows will just stare at the phone. I'm tearing up right now, b/c I realized that I'm describing my husband, yes the same one I griped at this morning about something stupid. I think I need to call him now.

"I'm always a bit perplexed when I come across dads who assume that anything that has to do with the kids is mom's job."

I agree with that and basically think that a good father is someone wants to be the best parent they can be to their children. I'd use the same definition for a good mother as well, regardless of the situation with work.

I think in this day and age it's a man that is willing to try to take on equal parenting duties if his wife wants to continue her career or if the family needs 100% of the mother's income. That's not to say women have carte blanche to do whatever they want without discussing it with their partners, but I think it is high time women stop working the "second shift" and start demanding that the men in their lives step up to the plate. We are not going to change the corporate world from without, that's going to gradually come when the CEO says he has to go at five because HE has to pick up the kids from daycare.

However, every family is different. I think my friends that stay at home while their husbands work have good fathers for their children and those that work also have good fathers as well. Just like a SAHM can be a good mom and a WOHM can be too.

I haven't read all the comments, so I don't know if this has shown up, but I'd like a Father C for balance, who stays home with the kids while his wife works. I know a few SAHFs, and they are awesome.

Personally, I think whatever works for the family is fine, so long as both parents are putting in equally.

I love this question. I think this question is probably different if answered from the perspective of the the wife/partner than if answered from the perspective of the child.

My mother was largely a SAHM mother, and did just about 100% of the parenting admin, although my dad did more and more as we got older--maybe more like 10%/90% once we were over 10. From my perspective as his child, I wish that even though he was PHYSICALLY present, that he had been more emotionally involved, played more games with us, been more there--but whatever the ratio ended up being--he was the right choice for my mother, who is something of a control freak and worry-wart, and wouldn't have done too well with a more involved partner. She assumed a lot of admin work herself, and her choice in partner reflects her personality.

Me, I have tried to choose a 50/50 partner where nothing is "someone else's" job. In reality, my husband, who agrees 100% with this philosophy is gone 12 hour days. He does a lot around the house, but I do more. He's determined to move into a better job situation, if not work from home before we have kids. For us, that suits us, to both be incredibly involved, to both be hands on, but it IS a struggle, a power dance, and a lot of work and compromise, that some couples might not be cut out for.

In the end, I think children benefit from having involved parents, no matter how the ratio works out. If it is at all possible to have a SAH parent during the first 3-4 years, then that is great, but as long as a child has incredibly involved, loving parents, then I think they have "ideal" parents.

Love this debate.

This is a great question, and one I've thought a lot about too.

I think both of your B&W examples can be good fathers, if in each example the man is happy with that situation. Much like I believe in the SAHM vs. WOHM debate the best option is the one that works for that particular mother.

Personally, I want the father of my kids to actually enjoy their company. If he's with them 4 hours a day or 30 minutes a day, I'd like him to be genuinely happy about that time together. I want someone who participates in parenting by choice, not by foot in ass persuasion. ;-)

I think a good dad loves his kids, spends as much quality time with them as he can, and still tries to live up to his own potential in his chosen career as much as he can. He doesn't forsake any one thing for any other, but juggles the best that he can. Just like moms do.

I think there are a lot of different combinations of moms and dads and family styles. The main thing is that both parents are involved as much as they can be with the kids, and that everyone is treated with love and respect.

I wish I had time to read all the posts to see what everyone else said.

At the risk of derailing this otherwise civil discussion of what makes a good father, I feel compelled to take exception with a previous post. Rachel blames the women’s movement for parenting problems in the US. She argues that it has set women back as no one can be accomplished in all areas. There are several underlying assumptions in her argument that should be addressed, especially the notion that women “COULD” stay home but fail to economize or prioritize appropriately.

Rather than blame the movement for women’s equality, what of blaming capitalism a system that exploits workers, and refuses to pay people a living wage in the US? What of the systematic dismantling of the social safety net that at one time allowed women to stay home with their children under AFDC and welfare? What of the refusal of the US and US corporations to provide adequate daycare, maternity/paternity leave, and flex time? Who benefits from this sstem? Whatever your answer, it certainly is our children who suffer.

Many mothers and fathers for that matter would love to stay home. But aren’t able to do so without foregoing the basic necessities such as housing and medical insurance. Other problems exist as well. Divorce rates are high and payments for spousal and child support are criminally low the effect is that women are forced into the workforce. Many women have no choice but to work and to work harder than their male counterparts to keep afloat. Women on average still earn $.76 for each dollar that a man with similar skills, experience, education, and training earns. The glass ceiling of human resources continues to box in white women and minorities alike in the nation’s largest companies and to stall advancement of both group’s careers.

One last thing as a historian, I must insist that we stop using homemaker as an eternal concept or condition without a history. Indeed the vision of the economically unproductive homemaker is a relatively new phenomenon and part of the capitalist transformation of the bourgeois home in the 19th century. Prior to that, the home and its occupants, children included were part of a family wage economy that depended on the contribution of all its members for survival. The move to waged work rendered women’s social contribution (child rearing) without an economic or remunerative value, and thus made her a disposable dependent in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of society.

Ok back to fathers and to the shadows…

Hi. :)

Interesting post, Viv. I'd love to study the history of Homemaking, as a 'homemaker' myself, I marvel at the hours women in the past had to put in to get all their jobs done. I collect books on Women and Homemaking, my oldest is from 1903, and it certainly is an eye opener! When Ive had a 'hard day' I sit down to read it! lol :)

I agree with you, Tertia. My husband also works very hard to provide a good wage for our family. I do feel so thankful that I am able to stay home with our children, and will be able to for a long time to come. Our money is tied up with mortgage, bills and things we are saving for.. every month. We certainly dont live in luxury, and I know that I work every bit as hard as he does for our Family; from the home front. We are half traditional, half modern! (Woman at home, man out to work, but we are a team, equal in all things.)

I know that in an ideal world my husband would spend his days with us, camping, or playing golf, or just being here. He does feel that he has 'mortaged' his future, and he worries that he will have to work until he is 65.

Our children adore him. As soon as he comes home from work, he puts his lap top down and our Twins are in his arms, then for the next 2 hours the house is chaos! I cook dinner and the three of them go wild.. pillows are always everywhere, children are upsede down and the dog gets in on the activity! Its a riot. :) And beneficial to all involved!

Its interesting, a few months ago I commented to my Husband that there are now always alot of men out during the week with their children, pushing strollers and at the park. His first reaction was "wow, slackers.. they should go out and support their families!" I was amazed, but I suppose, looking at his family history (He comes from a long, long tradition of high achieving male bread-winners) that was the natural reaction for him to have.

I dont think he could be a better Father if he was home for 7 days a week. And I KNOW he wouldnt do alot of housework!

In Australia childcare is so expensive. Hubby earns too much for us ever to get any child support, and if I went to work there is no way I would ever earn the $500.00 odd dollars each it would take to put our little ones in daycare. I am a trained artist, so the path to financial success is a long and unguaranteed one.

Anyway, enough rambling from me. :)

Good debate, Tertia!

I think a good father is one that spends as much time as possible with his kids BECAUSE HE WANTS TO. Let's all be honest here... we all know men who are more than happy to use the "I must work many hours" excuse to stay away from their kids. The bottom line is that research is pretty clear that a present father is just as important to a child as the other parental unit. There are plenty of men who find chores to do, golf to play, business trips to go on so they can avoid their kids. I personally think that if a mom wants to spend a day away from her kids, she should be able to - WITHOUT leaving a laundry list of explanations for daddy as to what to do with the child, feed the child, when to nap the child, etc. If Daddy doesn't know the basics there is a problem.

My dad was (is) THE BEST FATHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!! So, I can speak from personal experience... !!
I am 44 years old and boy have times changed! When i was a baby men worked and brought home the money and women stayed at home and raised the kids. My parents were no exception.
My father did almost nothing in the "admin" department. He went to work and supported us. He travelled for 6-8 weeks at a time each Spring and Fall and left my mother alone to handle everything for us kids (his work required it as he was in Sales in the Garment business). When he was in town he was always home for dinner and weekends, but, he golfed every Saturday for his entire life, had a Wednesday night Poker game, went to rehearsals and sang weekly in our Temple Choir, etc. (had a lot of interests of his own that he spent time on). He only spent some weeknights and part of weekends with my sister and I.

My dad taught me to tell time, to ski, to write "thank you" notes, and, that I could be anything I wanted to be. He played sports with me (I was a tomboy), took me to Broadway Musicals and encouraged me to read by only buying "Nancy Drew Mystery" books for me as gifts from his business trips. He instilled in me a world of self-confidence, the importance of honesty and being nice to people and to never, never start a fight, but, to fight back with all your might if someone else did.

My father never changed one diaper in his life, never gave one bath, never gave one bottle to either of his children, yet, because of his love, support, and caring I think he was a wonderful father.
My mother was a SAHM who did everything admin. for us, but, conversely, she was/is self-involved, controlling and even a little mean.

So, IMHO, it doesn't matter who stays home, who does the admin. stuff, who makes the money or who changes the diapers. What makes a good father is what they are made of inside and how they treat you. Quality time is more important than who changed your diaper.
Exellent topic, T.!!!
Thank you for the thought provoking discussion.

I consider myself to be really lucky in the fatherhood department, I was raised by a Mr. Mom type and married a Mr. Mom type (a bit Freudian? Also I’m talking about my Hubby’s relationship with my step kids, our little one hasn’t made his appearance just yet). Now both my Husband and my Father worked/work fulltime jobs it’s just that they both were fortunate in that they worked close to home and their jobs allowed them a lot of flexibility so they were able to be at home more with the kids. My mom worked long hours and had a long commute not to mention I think she purposely destroyed laundry and couldn’t cook so my dad did most of that (not a bad idea if you think about it), also it was my dad who taught me how to make my bed and took my brother to youth sports (stuff of that nature). We also had the added bonus of having my grandmother live with us so she provided extra help in terms of childcare. My Hubby’s ex worked the graveyard shift at a hospital (7pm – 7am) so he took on most of the household stuff and his kids would go over to his workplace (he was a lifeguard at the time so the kids would go to the beach he was at) after school and on weekends if he was working, his in-laws also lived close by so there were always grandparents to help out if it was really necessary. So really my step kinds and I were very fortunate to get both quality and quantity but I really think quality matters more.

I really believe it takes a village to raise kids, not that it cant be done otherwise, but boy does it really help when there is a good support network in place that can help both mom & dad be the best parents they can be. When families are able to get good support that is when the quantity of time becomes less of an issue and families can really focus on quality of time.

I think it's fine for either parent to be the "hands on" or "admin" parent, as long as someone is doing it.

My husband is moving up the corporate ladder at a breathtaking rate and he's having to try and manage many things at once. I end up being the primary caregiver, but that doesn't mean that I don't expect him to be at least aware of everything going on with our child. Moreover, he needs to be competent enough as a solo parent to allow me nights and even overnights away, should the opportunity arise. A good father works hard, but not so hard as they lose touch with their family. That old saw about people never saying they wish they'd worked more? That's true.

I know a family with a father who works twelve hour days. There are two sons and it's amazing to me how much of a 'parental' or supervisory role the older one takes with the younger. It's like an automatic response to the absence of the father, y'know? I think that's when you start to see problems.

Eh. Ultimately, it's about love. But I'd like to see fathers and mothers be able to find a balance.

Interesting topic, but I haven't seen anyone pick up on the education aspect of it. As a father, I am more driven to provide for the future - our retirement and our son's education - than for the here and now. In a very competitive world, and getting more so, I believe that the best education you can pay for is going to be the most important thing you can give your child. And in SA, a great education is very expensive. So that is why we both work. We could take the slow down option anytime, but believe that the time we miss out with our son now is worth it for his future.

As many have said above, it is all about balance, and this is our balance, that works for us, for now. We have a wonderful, happy child, who is exceptionally well looked after while we are not around, and we hope that in 2 -3 years time we will be able to spend more and more time with him as he grows, but for now, our reality is providing for the future in an uncertain world.

My parents and hubby's both always worked, so we were latch-key kids. We never wanted that for our own family, so we've made some interesting choices along the way.

My husband just started a new job today that gave him a 25% salary increase, but will mean he has to work longer hours than before, and it's also a longer commute (35 minutes vs. 20). He was passionate about his old company, but career growth was non-existant. He is now being paid a market-value salary, for the first time in 9 YEARS, but it comes at a cost. It was a hard decision for him, because he is sacrificing several things. I am worried that he won't have as much time to spend with our daughter, and I will have to pick up even more of the admin.

I am extremely fortunate, as I fought hard to work part-time after I returned to work after my daughter's birth, and currently work 24 hours/week. Whenever she is sick, 80% of the time I am the one who has to take the day off to stay home with her; my husband's old job just did not understand "family."

I was the primary breadwinner before her birth, so we had to scale WAY back when I was off work. I had to return to work when our savings dissappeared, but I am very grateful I had a year off with her, especially since she might remain our only child. If I returned to work full time now, it would mean we could afford to buy a house. But for me, time with my daughter is more precious than owning a home. We live in one of the most expensive areas in the US, and remain here because that's where the jobs are for our industry. We have no family in the area, so we get no breaks for "us" time and it's not a cake walk. BUT, we are very fortunate with our arrangement, and I think we are both doing the best we can given our opportunities.

I am no longer a career building woman; I have chosen a job that I can do very well but is not at all challenging. It's not the best trade-off, but I hope that I could get back in if I wanted to. Though my company touts its policies for working parents, in reality it would be almost impossible for me to be promoted up the ladder without working much, much more than 50+ hours/week plus travel. So, that's me, a part time SAHM, part-time WOHM, with a DH who works 50 hours a week. The only way I am happy with this arrangement is because we have a fabulous childcare center and I know my daughter is loved and well-cared for there. Otherwise, all bets would be off and I'd be a SAHM, and we'd make it work some way, at least until she starts school.

Most of you would say that my husband is not a good father. He works long days, leaves for work before our 6mth old wakes up and is home well after he is in bed. He is career-focused and ambitious and loves his job. After growing up very poor, he wants the world for his son (in terms of education and a safe place to live).
But, *I* think he is a wonderful father. Our son is still feeding at 10:30pm, and my husband does most of those feeds with expressed breastmilk. On weekends he takes care of our son for hours in the afternoons, and he sings with him, reads to him, dances with him, and has the most marvellous time with him. Our son's face lights up when he sees his father. They have enormous fun together - solid chunks of good quality time.
I know that he would like to have more of a career/life balance, but just as that is so difficult for women, I think it is just as hard for men. When our son stops his feeds at night, my husband will not see him all week. It breaks his heart. I suspect that things might change in terms of his priorities, but for now, he is trying to balance things and I think he is doing a marvellous job.

What makes a great father? You either have it or ya don't! I'm thinking of cloning myself and hiring out the copies as rent-a-fathers.
A father should have good ears, to listen to everything and interpret it correctly. He should also be able to do interesting things with duct tape and a cardboard box.

I don't thik that children necessarily need the same things from all the adults in their life. They need a certain number of things, such as love, food, warmth, kindness and guidance. Who provides which of these is, I think, largely a matter for each family to share out. Some of these may be provided by a grandparent or good childminder.

What I do think both parents must do, whatever their circumstances, is make their children feel loved and wanted. Showing children that they are loved is not something taht can be delegated. This is independent of the amount of money in the household -ie expensive holidays, clothes, cars etc do not equal more love. Showing your children that you love them takes time and empathy. This is why I think that a two-career (as distinct from "job") household is incompatible with the happy rearing of children.

DH was a Stay at home dad for 2.5 years, and loved it! he's an involved father, does the dishes, and homework and makes lunches (we do trade) he and I know believe parenting is something BOTH parents do, and never has either one of us thought any job or task relating to our children is a Mom/Dad thing specifically.

I for one cringe when I hear women who stay at home say that their husband works X + X hours so THEY can stay at home with their kids. I think that does a disservice to their husbands as fathers. For me, I wouldn't be married to a man with such traditional and old fashioned values (woman stays home, while dh spends tons of hours at the office etc. or a part-time father who has never changed diapers or fed his child).

I married a man who I know has the same beliefs and thoughts as I do, this job of being a parent its BOTH our jobs and we share it completely.!


I think like you said every family wants different things out of a father. What is important to me is certainly different than what is important to others. In my scenario, I have to say Ben is the perfect father for me. He leaves for work at about 6:30AM and returns home usually about 4:30PM. He does work some overtime on an as needed basis. Once home he usually takes the boy from me and cares for him until he goes to bed at about 8PM. He also is very hands on over the weekends and helps out with the household chores (even though I stay home). Plus, he treats me like a queen. Now, why might he not work for others? Currently, his salary is in the low $30's in a not-so-low cost of living area. So we are very very strapped for cash. In fact, people at my former work did think less of him for not making a ton of money. I quit that high paying job when Gabe came home because I couldn't resolve the mother/working issue from your previous post. In fact, I still haven't. I was in a field that required 50+ hours year round and a serious soul commitment.

I am very, very, lucky. I have a husband who works very hard - his is a 24hr job so 8-6 office hours plus whatever is needed - but he comes home, bathes and changes and plays with his son, reads him a story and puts him to bed. On weekends he gives mummy a break and looks after him as long as I want/need him to. He changes all nappies and winds him when he isn't at work. And he works so that I don't need to. I am very, very blessed. I should add that this is through choice - he misses his little boy when he's at work, but enjoys his job and feels it important I look after him. I will shortly have to go back to work, and he will become the primary carer, as my hours will be longer. That will be interesting...

Hi Tertia,

Check out this article, it was in our local paper in Colorado, USA today. Very timely, given your post. ~Melanie

Hmm, did that work? Trying again:

Yesterday, My husband got on a 6:45 commuter bus and got back home early at 7:15. When he got home, he fixed the toilet, fed the baby a bottle and then took the time to lower the mattress on the crib because I couldn't. Afterwards, he re-made the babies bed, and we put her to sleep. He ate dinner with us, watched a little t.v., blew up an air mattress for a guest, then went to bed at 10pm to start this process all over again tomorrow. Come the weekend, he will take the baby off of my hands for most of each day.

My DH doesn't work these long hours because he wants to. Right now, he has to. I think he's a great father. A good father does what he has to for the sake of his child, just like a good mother does. What we each have to do changes, depending on our situations-- but it's putting your child at the top of your "To-Do" list that makes the difference.


This only working 8 hours a day thing really gets up my nose. I only get paid for 8 hours a day so why on earth should I work more that 8 hours a day?? If I decide I only want to work 6 hours a day I know damn well my company isn’t going to pay me for 8 hours so why should I give then my time for free?? (BTW I know the answer, I just don’t like it)

I now ‘only’ work 8 hours a day but I spent the first 5 years of my career working like a lunatic so now I have a senior position with a good salary and I have cut my hours to 8 a day, the 8 I get paid for! I also managed to convince my management to allow me work a 4 day week which is great. Mind you, I had to get a new manager to get the new hours! Considering the others in my group, all men with kids and wives who stay home, work an average of 60+ hours a week I’m not sure how long I will last working only 8 hours a day.

My husband really does share the load at home and I believe for us, that is part of being a good father. He has a fabulous relationship with our boys. His company has been way more understanding than mine about his work schedule. They are very flexible. Our eldest son had a lot of health issues this year. All my vacation time was used up looking after him by February, so was my husbands but his company waived the time saying they understood what we were going through. I know this is not the norm, especially here is the US so I guess we are very lucky!

There is no way I would be able to do all the kid stuff on my own, I need his help and I believe his role as a father includes sharing the raising of our kids, lucky for me, so does he! All that said, like everything, I think every family has to find what works for them and good for everyone who has managed to find a balance that works for their family. These days that’s no mean feat! Hazelxx

Haha, I just read Scout's comment about the CEO saying he has to leave at 5 to pick up the kids, - well, in my husbands company the Sr. Director of Engineering leaves at 4:30 to pick up our kids! I told you they were flexible! Then again, husband is very good at his job! I am only just starting to realize that we really are lucky!

I work full time for a very flexible boss. I can come in late or leave early if I have to. I can take work home on occasion if needed. I work the normal 9 to 5 hours. DH works 10PM - 5AM. He sleeps when he gets home and my mom comes in time for me to leave for work. She leaves around 10 or 11AM and DH is home with the kids. He is in school part time and my mom stays all day Tues and Thurs. So really, the kids are with DH 3 days a week and Granny 2 days a week. Then weekends we have as a family. Works for us. I am the major breadwinner. I think DH is a wonderful father. Not because he spends time with the kids, but because he wants to. He loves it. He plays and tickles and wrestles and loves them fiercely. He hates to be away from them and despises it if I go out of town without him (and take the kids). He is a good father because he is involved and has a wonderful relationship with his kids and because he WANTS it this way and works to keep it this way. He is a good father because his kids are his number one priority.

I've only read some of the comments, so please forgive me if I'm repeating.

I think that what makes a man a "good father" (and good husband/employee) is the balance that makes HIM the happiest! As Tine mentioned above, some men are "well suited" to being the primary care-giver in the family. Mine is not (though a WONDERFUL, DOTING father!). If he had to spend 24/7 "only" taking care of the girls, I think he'd blow a gasket. LOL

For my husband, he "needs" to have a (paying) job, for his own self-esteem and fulfillment. I, however, do not. I have made it my "job" to be the very best mother (and wife) that I can, and that satisfies ME.

At the same time, my husband loves interacting with our girls, so I think a job that minimized his "family time" would be equally stressful for HIM (well, and US too).

I am so fortunate that my husband WANTS to spend time with his children. There are men who feel more driven to the "provider" goal, for whom that takes (somewhat of a) higher priority over "family time." IMO, if that makes them HAPPIER, then THAT is what they should do to be the best father they can be!

I don't believe there is any concrete answer to this question, Tertia. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a man's happiness is tantamount to him being ABLE to be a "good father." If that happiness is achieved by working long hours, I GUARANTEE that the time that he DOES spend with his children will be better quality time (because of his own inner peace). And I think the converse is true - there are men for whom working long hours would nearly kill them, because they cannot stand being apart from their family. So for them, it is better to have a more flexible job/career, even if that means less pay. I don't think that makes them any less of a "provider."

Hope I've made sense. Good topic, Tertia! :-)

Hi Tertia,
I have been reading your blog for a long time; commenting for the first time though.
In my opinion the examples that you have written about are both good fathers. Providing for the family is as important as spending time with the kids. And children adapt to expect what evey parent can give them in terms of time. The difference I think is in the rewards that the parent can reap by spending time with children.
Although parenting is a responsibility that lasts for a long time, it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity. When I see my children being fed, bathed, changed by their father, I cannot help but think how much my parents' generation's fathers missed out on if they were only providers. The cute things kids do or funny things they say are just not the same when you repeat it to others and are too precious to miss. I work full time too and love what I do. All I'm saying is, this is something to consider regardless of how ambitious you are.

I think, at the end of the day, you need to look at your children and see how they are doing in order to judge oneself as a parent (mother or father). Are the kids happy? Are they healthy? Are they secure? Are they learning basic social skills (manners, not hitting other kids, empathy)? Are the kids picking up stress or tension in the household, or is the home a happy place? Is there a parent available to help and guide the child through the difficult times every child will inevitably have?

T, using you as an example: your kids have two parents who love them, AND a caretaker who adores them. They not only have your love and attention, but they'll have Rose, a wonderful person who brings different cultural gifts to them. I have no doubt that this will make them richer people. AND you are giving them a safe home with creature comforts. You do this by parenting the way you and Marko feel is best for your values. And it seems to me like it's working.

I think a good mother or father is someone who considers the issues of their children's health and happiness (and their OWN health and happiness) and the values they want to impart. Then they work their lives, tweaking as they go, to meet these standards.

To me, HOW they do it is less important than the fact that they consider it and work it as they go.


I've never commented before, but I was thinking about this question over the last little while, and wanted to weigh in.

I think, in families that are fortunate enough to have two parents, it's more important to view the "parenting team" as a whole rather than look at the individual contributions and how they measure up to 'good father' or 'good mother' on their own.

What I mean is, the family needs a certain amount of financial support to function - whatever that amount is for wherever you live - you need that. The kids also need a certain amount of 'admin' work done for them. Then there is the regular love, affection, bonding time, etc. that both parents need to spend with their kids.

I think that the first two things need to be addressed by the parents as a team - whatever works for you; that's what you do. If one parent has to work crazy hours and be absolved from most of the 'admin' parenting duties, and that works for you, then that's great. If you are fortunate enough to have a situation where both parents have understanding employers, where both can work moderate (regular) hours and share the admin duties, then that's great too.

I just see the 'team' contribution as being what's important in these two areas - if the team is meeting the needs of the family in those two areas, then it's a good parenting team.

Obviously the nurturing part of the relationship with your children - spending time together, bonding, etc. - needs to be done by both parents - that's not something that can be split somehow.

Just some thoughts anyway, thanks for posting this.

I would love a world where no one had to work 12 hour days.

For us, the ideal is for both of us to work as little as possible while our twins are small. Right now that means that I work about 20 hours a week, and DH about 35. I realize that this is not possible for everyone, but most of the time I think that’s due more to needing benefits (which often require FT work) or not having a job (or even career) that you can even do part time. I think that for most people that I know, it has less to do with the actual salary. I don’t have a problem with working moms or dads, and I refuse to buy into all the mommy wars crap by saying that one way of doing it is superior to another. That said, it does bug the heck out of me when my SIL or someone makes comments like “must be nice” when it comes up that DH and I both work PT and don’t need daycare. This tends to come from people who have very nice amenities in their lives that we choose to do without. We may only work 55 hours a week total, but we live on peanuts to do it, and for us, it’s worth it. We buy clothes at thrift stores and garage sales, have one (efficient) car, don’t have fancy stereos, TV or cable, and go camping on vacation. We use the library a lot, use cloth diapers, make our own baby food, and use public transportation or a bicycle when we can. The irony is, we wouldn’t have the time to do some of those things if we worked more! I do like being part of supporting our family, and I also like getting out of the house for a while every day. Twins are very hard work, assholes or not! And the fact that DH takes care of our boys in the mornings ensures that he has a pretty good idea of what my day is like – a real source of conflict between SAHM’s and their FT working DH’s.
If it IS possible to work less, I think a good question to ask is: what is enough? What does my family really NEED? For us, right now it’s time. For others, our lifestyle would probably feel needlessly austere, and working more would be worth it. I see no need to judge, but do want to assert that it is possible for most people to trade things for time, IF you have a career that allows you to. It makes me sad that I live in a country where flexibility for workers is so rare – sounds like maybe South Africa is like that too?

I answered the question based off of what made a good father to me and my child, not what makes the standard good father. Because certainly my FIL who worked hard his whole life and long hours was a great father.

I specifically chose different because *I* needed different. I needed someone to play a significant role in the "admin" because I know what I suck at :) So for me to work as a mom I needed a dad who split parenting duties pretty evenly (even when I WAH)

It is one of many reasons we only had one child too. Knowing my limits.

By YOUR definition, I would be a good father, and my husband a very good mother :). I am the one away from home 10 hours, he is at home and taking care of the kids. In MY definition, we're both great parents because we love our children and each other, and try to do our best!

Making treatment with Avodart recommends both a decline in prostate size and lasting symptom development for up to 4 years. The smaller prostate gives less pressure on the urethra, which tends to treat inconvenient urinary symptoms.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Medsitters Au pairs

More Ads

| More


Bloggy Stuff

  • Living and Loving

  • SA Blog Awards Badge

  • Featured in Alltop

  • Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

  • RSS Feed
Blog powered by Typepad
This is the Reviews Design