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After interviewing two people of different age I made a conclusion that fatherhood changed greatly. Moreover, the contemporary men define father’s role in a different way than their predecessors. Today, being a father means nearly the same as being a sponsor. Men think that if they buy all the things that are necessary for their children, they fully perform their responsibilities of an attentive parent. It turned out that fathers brought up their sons by means of other methods thirty years ago. They were more interested in establishing friendly relations with their children. Financial sphere was not as important as emotional support. Therefore, today’s fathers are not the same as they were thirty and more years ago. They tend to live according to the myth that if a child gets enough money he/she is happy.
To analyze the changes in fatherhood I interviewed two people. They were: Tom (sixty years old) and his son Alex (thirty-two years old). Tom is my uncle, so I know this family very well and they trust me. That is why I am sure that the information I have got during the interviews is correct. Tom was a driver when Alex was born. According to the informant’s point of view, life was not as complicated as it seems to be now. He did not work very hard to earn money and had some spare time. Tom always tried to devote whatever free time he had to his son. They went fishing, played football, and read fairy tales in the evenings. Tom tried to become his son’s best friend and knew practically everything about Alex’s private life. He knew when Alex missed classes, when he fell in love for the first time, and when he had any problems with neighboring boys. Today Tom is sure that he has managed to avoid a lot of problems in Alex’s life due to their firm relations.
When I interviewed Alex, I understood that he just does not have enough time to spend with the family because of his position. He is an executive manager in one serious company producing computers. Alex is sure that his absence at work is easily compensated with the help of expensive gifts and financial support he gives to his family. He did not have expensive toys in his childhood and now he tries to do his utmost to give the children everything he did not have himself. Alex stressed that although he appreciates his father’s attempt to spend a lot of time with him, his own fathering differs a lot. Alex did not essentially follow his father’s pattern of upbringing. Unfortunately, he had read no books on fathering, but is sure that children should be taught to be independent from early childhood. That is why Alex tries to give them more freedom and thinks that his only role is to provide the children with everything they need for decent life. The decision to act this way came to Alex naturally, and it was not the thing he had being thinking over for a long time. Actually, he just did not have any choice because of a great workload. If Tom took an active part in such things as burping, diapering, feeding, waking, etc, the same cannot be said about Alex. He missed these actions and decided that they exist only for women. So, Tom and Alex have different points of view upon fathering and they apply different methods to bring up their children.
As for my father, he is forty-three years old. Sometimes, it seems to me that he has something in common both with uncle Tom and his son Alex. Although he has a lot of work to do every day, he never forgets to ask me a simple “How are you?” question and seems involved in all my problems. My mother says that he was not very interested in feeding or anything else when I was very small, but he started helping a bit later. It happened when I was three. Perhaps, the main reason was that my father had to support the family lest the mother had to work. When I became interested in football, he was involved in this and attended football matches with me whenever he had free time. He was always involved in my academic life and frequently phoned my teachers if he had no opportunity to talk to them at school. This motivated me to study hard as I did not want to make my father upset. As for my social life, he never argued with me, but shared some advice and it was up for me to decide whether to take it or not. Once I asked my father, who had taught him to be so attentive and patient to me. It turned out that he spent much time with uncle Tom and saw how his father treated him. It was a perfect example of fatherhood he remembered for the whole life, but he has no opportunity to always follow it because of working hard.
The analysis of the two interviews and experience from my family life gave me an opportunity to arrive at the following conclusion: fatherhood has undergone many changes in the past thirty years. The majority of these changes occurred due to the economic crises and other everyday problems people have. Men are considered to be the sole providers for their families. That is why they have less time to devote to their children today than their predecessors did. This is not to say that they do not try to become good fathers. It is just that the priorities in the families have changed. Today earning money is more important than having some spare time for the family. None of the informants has read special text books on education. In Tom’s case he just did not have access to such literature. In Alex and my father’s cases they have no time and necessity to do that. Alex thinks that he knows himself how to cope with his children, my father uses uncle Tom’s example to establish good relations with his children. It is necessary to stress that the changes in fatherhood are more negative than positive. It is impossible to buy the children’s love and obedience with money. It is still important to spend some time with the children if the father wants to be aware of their life and problems. I think that I shall use the results of these interviews in my would-be family and try to devote much time to it.