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Column: What Makes a Modern Father?

Weekly insight about the ups and downs of work, parenting, and everything in between from your favorite local editors.

Parenting changes with each generation, and its newest iteration may be its most significant alteration yet. Whether driven by the economy, or a societal course correction, the fact of the matter is that the role of the father is changing. It is expanding. It is growing.

It is evolving.

In our travels as Patch Editors, both of Mendham and Chester and of Long Valley have noticed a significant shift in the role of the father. Indeed, a shift of the entire family structure.

There is a high percentage of stay-at-home Dads in our communities, many who have taken on the traditional role as primary caregiver to their families while their spouse is working.

We have also seen the telecommuting Dad who works out of the home and is more integrated in the day-to-day workings of a family.

Gone are the days when Dad came in from work in time to kiss the kids goodnight and unwind with a scotch and cigar. Here are the days where Dad coaches, runs for school board and makes soufflé masterpieces for dinner.

Or turns hamburgers into steaming hockey pucks before running out to a night meeting.

So it is with this mind that we launch this weekly column, titled Diapers and Deadlines (D.A.D.).

We’re part of the ever-changing parenting culture, and have a lot to share. But, more importantly, we have a lot to learn, too. And we’d like you to be part of that.

  • Russ is the father of a 1-year-old girl.
  • Jason is the father of two boys under the age of three.
  • Russ employs daycare three days a week.
  • Jason shares a home office with his kids' playroom most of the day. 

Plenty of differences, but also common ground. We both have jobs that allow us to work from home a lot, but ask a lot of us, too.

You choose to become a journalist because you love it. The hours are tough, the pay is lousy and most people are guarded around you. It is the price you pay for living out your Raymond Chandler hard-boiled fantasy. Our work is very important to us, but so is being a father, which is the most important job we will ever have.

So welcome to Diapers and Deadlines. We’ll be here every week to share our thoughts on fatherhood, ask questions to our colleagues in the parenting industry, and seek advice–and stories, photos, triumphs and tribulations–from you as well.

We want to hear from you. Drop us a line (leave a comment here or email jason.koestenblatt@patch.com, or russ.crespolini@patch.com) and share your stories about being a modern father. A stay-at-home Dad, a work-from-home Dad, a single Dad, a Dad in a household with two Dads! Whatever it is, we want to hear about it.

And now, our observations for this week.

Russ’ Ravings:

This week was one of those rare weeks when my little girl did not come home from daycare with some sort of plague. We had a few great highlights this week, with my wife teaching her sign language so she can better communicate when she wants something.

But we also had our tough spots. Today, when dropping her off at daycare before dashing off to a meeting I was treated with the sad display of tears as I left her with her little friends and teachers in the playroom.

Scooting across the floor with her mouth open in a silent scream my daughter reached out for me like I was leaving her to be eaten by wolves. Rough to leave when her little face is pleading for you to take her out of there with you. Does this get easier to do?

Jason’s Jams:

Sleep is very much at a premium these days. Our five-month-old is still seeking 1-2 feedings a night, and our soon-to-be 3-year-old is in a funk where he likes waking up before 5:30 a.m.

Big brother usually sleeps until 6:30 a.m., giving mommy and daddy that much-needed extra hour after a rough night. Throw in a 50+ hour work week for dad, a super exhausted mom from chasing the kids around all day, and you've got sleepy times. It's a funk we know will pass–he's done it before–but when you're in it, times are rough.

In the past two weeks, the house has been filled with walking zombies. We don't, however, get the super-human strength the ones in the movies have. Any tips to make this process bearable beyond caffeine?

Sue Toth April 15, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Love this column! And I agree with Linda. Sleep deprivation isn't fun, but it will pass. I'd kill to have my babies back. Raising teenagers is no picnic! Oh well, I guess I can look forward to grandparenthood (in about 10 years) when I can tire them out then give them back to their parents!
judi April 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I really don't have any real advice for either of you since my baby son is 29 yrs old-back then we just put some burbon in the bottle :):)(just kidding) .. Boy, have things changed...But, I must say I am loving the idea of Jason and Russ doing this article on a weekly basis-Should be fun reading- They are already on the right track-they are both Great DADS!!!! Good Luck!!!
Chuck Ruff April 15, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Great idea for a column, BUT... why are we limiting it to dads??? There are certainly many women who can share helpful thoughts and ideas as working parents, single parents, and stay at home parents. Why discourage their participation??? I once had a staff of men and women who were all working parents. I found that only parenting challenge that wasn't shared by the whole group was how to handle breast feeding while working.
Russ Crespolini April 16, 2012 at 04:16 AM
@Hookerman: I don't know if I would characterize this as DISCOURAGING participation. But, the thrust behind it is to gain some insight from the modern father that is not so tied to the archetype we have lived with for the majority of our lives. I know there are a zillion spaces on and off line dedicated to Moms and drawing them out and sharing their stories. This is a little twist on that concept. We would never want to discourage anyone from sharing their thoughts, but we are attempting to tap into a segment of the population whose voice isn't generally heard. When it comes to folks offering US advice, I am happy to take it from just about anyone. Moms, Dads, grandparents, pets...I will listen to anyone. But there IS an effort in trying to find modern Dads to share their tales with us. @Mag: PLEASE get him to write in. I would LOVE that.
Russ Crespolini May 05, 2012 at 03:27 PM
New D.A.D. up.

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