University News

Figuring Out Fatherhood: Evolution of Dads Researched by Professor

Published: June 19, 2015 | Author: Thomas Ybarra | Category: Academics

It all started in 1910 in the once small town of Spokane, Wash. as a way to honor fathers. The official holiday of Father’s Day didn’t gain momentum quickly, but once President Lyndon B. Johnson saw the importance in 1966 the day was nationally proclaimed.

Now celebrated across the United States, Father’s Day traditions changes depending upon the family but the purpose behind the holiday remain the same: an opportunity to honor fathers in all varieties of roles.

Southern Utah University professor of psychology David Shwalb, who was awarded the Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award for his study in fatherhood in 2015, found through his extensive research on the role of fathers in several world cultures that fathers are not what Americans think they are.

“Fathers are unappreciated, undervalued, misunderstood, and complicated,” explained Shwalb when explaining his research on the roles of a father and what people think they should be doing.

Shwalb clarified that there are no set standards on how to be a great father for a man to follow, unlike the standards for a mother. Dads are expected to work and provide for the family while still staying home and being a father to their children.

He went on to say that the role of fathers has also changed with household dynamics quickly evolving such as more acceptance toward same-sex parents, single-fathers, and co-habituating men raising children has expanded a father’s role in his family from what it was 50 years ago.

“It’s more accepting now for a father to not be the legal father for his child and for him to stay at home with the children. And couples who wouldn’t even consider getting married are having children,” stated Shwalb and explained how the acceptance of the shows like Modern Family shows the evolution of fatherhood with the portrayal of same-sex parents.

His research has gone on to prove that there are many more socially acceptable possibilities of what a father could be, including those who are incarcerated.

Shwalb found through his inquiries that effective fathers take responsibility, are engaged and responsive with their children, and can do anything a mother can do besides give birth, proving more and more that fathers are just as important as their womanly counterparts.

He said, “I wouldn’t be shocked if the commercialization of Father’s Day is what most likely leads to the charge for its celebration but Americans should look beyond that during the holiday.”

No matter the role the dad plays in the family, the purpose of Father’s Day is to recognize them for their importance and is a day set aside to tell fathers they are important. So as Father’s Day approaches it’s important to appreciate their hard work as a father no matter their role within the family. 


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