In defense of the dads who do so much

 Photo: Getty Images

"I just wanted to say I've felt really appreciated lately."

As far as final words before falling to sleep go, these were not what I would normally hear from my husband of almost 10 years - yet they were perhaps 10 of the most significant he has ever said to me. It meant he knew he was valued, and that his equal contribution both on the home front and with raising our children and had not gone unnoticed.

The sad reality is though that all too often dads don't get the credit they deserve for their deeds. While there is no doubt they are far more involved than their fathers who raised them, according to mainstream society, they are still not doing enough.

Take, for instance, this recent report which suggests dads still "have a long way to go" before they are considered to be carrying their share of the load. Not only is it insulting but also terribly unfair to those fathers, like my husband, who have been incredibly hands on from the moment we welcomed our first child into the world. In fact, reports like it make him incredibly frustrated and wonder why he bothers trying so hard at all.

"Most blokes would throw their hands in the air and say 'I give up'!" he says about the report. "You never hear how wonderful modern fathers are – it's always 'they aren't helping enough'. I reckon 80 per cent of dads today are. We have to be and we should be!"

Father of two, Darrell, who has his own blog dedicated to this topic ( could not agree more. To him, if there were more encouraging examples of dads in society who share responsibilities equally, those who aren't doing enough might be inspired to change.

"If dads are not included in the conversation except when we are talking about deadbeat dads, absent fathers, or 'dads being involved more than ever, but we have a long way to go' then where's the positive message to every single man that they can be a great father?" he says.

Of course, it can be hard for a father to be as equally involved as he might like when the demands of the modern day are considered.

"I know more men that are the main breadwinners, and many that work long hours, [so] it can be very hard for them to give equal share to the raising of the children, especially when the children are young with early bedtimes," Darrell says."It's hard for these men to be great dads seven days a week."

"But then there are those guys who can help out before school because they don't have to leave until 8:30am and they could help out after work because they're home before dinner, but they don't," he continues.

"Again, these men are letting the side down. They are letting their kids down. They are letting their partners down.

"And once again, they are giving all men a bad name when it comes to parenting, because those are the stories we hear more often than the great dad stories."

"The only way that we will get society to change is for all the mums to get behind the active father cause. And it's for all the dads to buck the trend and be active fathers. And it's for the media to stop giving an excuse for those men who are not active fathers to stay the way they are," Darrell says.

"So let's tell a different story: let's tell the story of the fathers that are being the great dads, and then let's get the mothers who don't have a partner that fits that bill to read THAT story to aspire to be THAT kind of dad."

I couldn't agree more. Yes, there will always be dads who need a sharp reminder that if you helped make the baby, then you need to help raise the baby, but let's not tar them all with the same sweeping generalisation that they've got a long road ahead until they are considered to be doing enough as a dad. There are so many fathers who change the atomic poo nappies or are up in the middle of the night trying to subdue an unsettled newborn, but also like Darrell and Tony, integral in jointly running a smooth house even though they hold down demanding full time jobs.

It's time to shift the focus off what dads aren't doing and shine it on what they are. And if you haven't already, show them they are appreciated. It might just make all the difference.