Dad's Evolving Role: Good News, Bad News

A photo is shot. A sensation ensues. Viral immortality is attained.

Weeks later, that photo of blogger Doyin Richards with his two daughters is still being passed around, posted, and commented on. Thanks to that photo, Doyin has been featured in the media as the poster boy for Good Daddies, and horrifically, received plenty of racist hate mail as well.

In a post about the phenomenon, Richards says he has "a dream that people will view a picture like this and not think it's a big deal."

Pardon me, but I thought we were at that place already. The reaction to Doyin's photo—which, don't get me wrong, is absolutely beautiful—has been sobering and a bit eye-opening to me. In 2014, is the idea of a daddy doing the mundane task of brushing a child's hair, of juggling the care for a baby and an older kid, really so surprising?

Apparently it is.

Doyin expressed his own surprise at the hubbub in a follow-up post: "I'm concerned that the bar for being a good dad is set so low that a dude can take a photo with his kids, post it online, and automatically become the 'world's greatest dad' in the eyes of some because of it.... I just had no damn clue that a seemingly innocuous picture would be the reason why I popped up on the world's radar. But hey--it's pretty cool that a photo depicting what I do everyday for my kids is sparking a worldwide discussion regarding what fathers should do everyday for their kids."

So instead of climbing on my involved-dad soapbox and proclaiming that The World Has Changed, that fathers are the new mothers, full partners in the care of our children, I will instead offer an "Amen" to Doyin's dream. This whole episode has been a reminder to me that while the world has changed—fathers are involved in their children's lives like never before—there is a glass-half-empty way to look at it as well.

These issues have been on my mind a lot lately. My wife is currently on maternity leave with our third child, so our usual roles--two working parents doing our best to juggle family and career as equally as possible--are temporarily transformed. Instead, I am the working dad and sole breadwinner, while she is the primary child care provider and stuff-around-the-house doer. These periods are a bit jarring, with our usual roles transformed. But the real challenges will begin when my wife returns to work and we need to figure out how to find work-life balance now that we have three children, one of whom is a baby.

I am excited, therefore, to be attending the Dad 2.0 Summit later this month in New Orleans. It's a rare opportunity for me to meet other dads who blog about fatherhood and who struggle with the same challenges I do in maintaining work-life balance. Look out for more posts in the coming weeks about dads' roles and the issues we face in the 21st century.

In the meantime, I'm off to brush my daughters' hair in hopes of achieving my own 15 minutes of Internet fame.

Photo courtesy Doyin Richards of Daddy Doin' Work.

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