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Fathers and Families - Roles

Dad: his role in today' s world is changing

Fort McMurray Today, Fort McMurray, Alberta, By NICOLE FITCH, Today staff, Friday June 17, 2005

Don't call him Mr. Mom.

From making video documentaries to changing diapers and attending Kindermusik lessons, stay-at-home dad Will Gibson has taken on a very different role in the last few years.

Gibson, 37, has learned a great deal after spending the past five years at home with his children during the day and working from his home office. He stresses that it' s not as easy as it sounds, however.

“I've done the Rambo run at the Princess Patricia' s Canadian Light Infantry Battle School and I've also dealt with a child throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store, and I know which one is tougher, and it isn't the one where you're carrying the rifle,” he said.

Gibson has worked in television, in news rooms, in the military and now from home. But Gibson now spends his time taking care of his children and writing for Syncrude Canada and magazines such as Alberta Venture, Maclean's and Canadian Business.

Watching his son Robert, 5, and two-year-old daughter Jane has taught him many things one can' t learn in school or at work.

“I have learned how to better manage my time, I have learned that raising kids from home isn' t easy. I have learned to appreciate my mother, who stayed at home and raised four kids on her own.”

Gibson admitted that his own parents weren't entirely supportive of their son staying home and watching his children at first, but soon came around.

His mother is now glad he knows how to change a diaper and make a bottle and his father, although skeptical at first, told him before he passed away in April that “you have to hold onto these years. It' s good that you're spending lots of time with them, because (the years) go really quickly.”

Gibson's son Robert doesn't know what he is going to buy his dad for Father's Day, but does like hanging out with him.

“I like playing soccer with my dad and with my team at practises,” he said, adding one of his favorite things to do is play and watch movies with his dad and sister.

Gibson said there are two conditions that permit his situation to work: an understanding spouse and accommodating employer.

Gibson and his wife Lois both agree that neither wanted their children to be raised in day-care centres.

“It was just something we both had discussed before we had gotten married that we wanted to do, we didn' t really want to do the day care thing ... we wanted to try and raise our own children if we could.”

He agreed that Father's Day in 2005 means something different than it did in previous decades. Times are changing with the role a father plays in a child's life. Many women are deciding to go back to work or focus more on their career; fathers are getting Rmore involved at home.

“If you look at what your grandmother expected your grandfather to do versus what your mom expects your dad to do and what you will one day expect your spouse to do, there are going to be different expectations,” he told Today. “We could go back to the ‘60s, we could talk about sexual liberation and the (birth control) pill and how that kind of freed women to be able to go and work in the workplace and to kind of have it all. We're kind of in a post-feminist sort of era.”

Debbie Martin-Cox from The Hub Family Resource Centre agreed, saying she has noticed more dads coming into the centre to play with their children.

“Some of those barriers have been broken down in the community. I think a lot of times dads work and they take a back seat and its the moms that are primarily at home.

“I think it's very important that fathers are involved in their children's lives and they are able to take time for positive interaction.”