*This post originally appeared on The Charlotte Moms as a guest blog entry for their Charlotte Dad’s Series.
Being a dad in today’s world is obviously much different than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Not only do we have the regular duties of providing for our families and raising our children, but we have to carefully navigate the diminishing line between work and life. We now have to monitor the online reputations and social networks of ourselves and our kids.
Modern technological conveniences can actually be very time-consuming and distracting. As a small business owner, I check email and updates on my iPhone far more than I need to. Even on the weekends. My wonderful wife has been asking me for months to spend a day 100% disconnected and unfortunately, I have yet to do that. Now, I don’t go around answering my cell any time it rings, abandoning my kids during playtime to take a call or my family during dinner. I do, however, stay connected more than I need to.
While my bad tech habits may keep me from giving my family my complete and undivided attention at times, I am able to use today’s tools for good. Our oldest son loves to read interactive stories on my iPad and play educational games that my wife has on her iPod touch. Some of his obvious favorites are from Disney Junior. We’ve downloaded numerous learning apps that help him recognize his letters and practice skills like matching. And the best part is that he thinks he is playing games while he’s really learning more.
Educational apps and games are great, but our children still learn the most from us. They eat up the knowledge we share with them at home and are eager to hear what Daddy and Mommy will teach them next. I love seeing our 7-month-old mimic us and talk to us using his own language. It hasn’t been that long since our oldest was his age, however, the way we share William’s milestones with family and friends is very different. I share most of my pictures on Facebook and Instagram, which makes it super easy for our relatives to keep up with our family. Social networks like these allow me to stay connected with my friends and their growing families.
The modern dad is also meeting other dads in new ways. I have met a number interesting dads thanks to social networking. And many of them are bloggers. I’m friends with techy dads, hilarious dads who tell it like it is, gay dads and even stay-at-home dads. It’s nice knowing that there are plenty of other dads out there who struggle with the same day-to-day problems that I myself face. The lack of sleep, staying patient with your family after a long day of work, or wondering if you’re doing this whole “parenting thing” right. Being a parent isn’t easy. Having a support group of friends to cheer you on and back you up helps.
I think modern dads are reaching out to one another more. Moms have been doing this for years with “Moms Day Out” programs, play dates, and Bible studies. Sure, dads have gotten together for a round of golf or a beer every once in a while, but today more dads are interacting with one another online through blogs and social media. They share their triumphs and defeats and get that virtual pat on the back we all need sometimes. I was lucky to meet some of the online dads I had connected with on Facebook and the life at a conference this past April. It was great getting together and talking in person rather than exchanging messages and tweets. That is key – get offline and reconnect face-to-face – it’s a lot more fulfilling.
With all of the fun and benefits today’s technology brings, I do think it is imperative for modern dads to completely disconnect ever so often. Turn off the smartphone, power down your laptop, and just spend good, quality time with your family. I think this coming Sunday may be the perfect time to do that.