The shape of families has changed rapidly over the last three hundred years or so. Our cultures has changed and is changing so much over the years that what is true about the shape of a family in one generation won’t be true for another.
For many fathers in the past couple of centuries, life has been lived outside of the home. In the days before the Industrial Revolution, most men worked on farms, close to their family; their children worked alongside them. Only people involved in clerical work worked outside the home.
After the Industrial revolution, people started leaving the farms, more men started working away from home than at it. Men would be gone long hours earning money, often doing dangerous, sweaty jobs, and rarely making much more than they would have at the farm. As fathers they were often distant, sometimes even when he came home, his children never got to see him, except, perhaps on Sundays when he took them to church and then caught up with their lives.
Technology marched on, work got safer and easier, and farms got more efficient. We settled the frontiers so that there was practically nowhere left where Men stayed at home. Men started working more in offices, stores, or at high-tech factories, where they could earn a lot more than their fathers and grandfathers. Life got easier, at home, too. Dads could spend all day working for the company, but get home in time to see their children off to bed… but many of them were so tired. The funny thing about work that engages your brain is that it is exhausting compared to work that uses the body. After a day of writing accounts, doing mathematics, taking letters, writing scripts, and on and on, men might get so see their kids, but except maybe on Weekends, they didn’t get to spend much time with them.
And this has been a source of incredible pain for many men. Fathers love their children. Everything they do at work they do in part, and often entirely, to give their children a better life. But while they work hard to show their love, they have to do so away from the love of their families. And often, by the time a child is the age that you will be reading this, there isn’t much of a Father/Son or Father/Daughter relationship left. It makes many men lonely down to the core.
And in the past few years, in spite of our technology, people have to work more and more to keep up with the demands on their finances. Jobs are becoming fewer and fewer as time goes on. It’s a pain that a lot of Dads struggle with.
But this is growing pains that are leading to something better. You see with the computer, the Internet, affordable media equipment, and 3-D printers (brand new technology today!), companies might get smaller and smaller, but more and more people have a chance to go into business for themselves. Like the olden days people will be able to work from home again, and this time, it won;t be 12-hour-a-day back-breaking farm labour.
By the time you’re grown up, I expect there will be tons of families where both spouses run small businesses from home,or together, and make a decent living doing so.
In the meantime, I have a rare opportunity to be a Stay-At-Home-Dad who both raises his children and runs a business at home while his wife works (some people call it being a “Dadprenuer”). We are a very rare breed, so new that we’re a hot topic in magazines… although I am not the first in your line: Your Grandpa spent a lot of time at home raising your Mom and Aunt Tisha while he ran his business.
I am incredibly grateful for the chance to be there for you – to guide you growing up, to work because I love you and want to provide for you, but also to spend some time enjoying your company. Some of that gratitude belongs to the times we live in, and some of it to your amazing mother. I chose my wife very well, indeed.