It's a mild Saturday afternoon, a perfect day for watching baseball, mowing the lawn, or running errands. Instead, a group of guys in blue jeans gather in a sunlit room behind a storefront in Brookline, Massachusetts. Sitting on the floor amid yellow Boppy pillows, each has a baby cradled in his lap or parked in a car seat next to him. These men have gathered to do something their own fathers would have mocked or, at the very least, misunderstood: bond with each other -- and their babies -- at a popular program called "Time for Dads."
"My father harasses me about this class," Paul Muniz, 27, an oncology nurse, jokes afterward. "He says, 'You're doing what?'" But Muniz thinks the program -- a bunch of guys sitting around yakking about baby stuff -- has been great. "It gets us dads actively involved in the process," he says as he gently rocks 3-month-old Connor. "We are no longer just a side note."
Meet the 21st-century father, a guy who proudly wears spit-up on his shoulder as a battle scar, not an embarrassing stain. No longer is he satisfied with a supporting role in his children's lives. Now, in addition to attending childbirth classes, memorizing the pediatrician's number, and helping pick out baby gear, the modern dad is staying home when a child is sick, doing the daycare drop-off, and enrolling in programs like "Time for Dads."