Changing world gets dads more involved

As traditional family roles change, fathers are participating more and more in their children’s schools — and as they do, bake sales are giving way to barbecues and camping trips.

Stan Goldberg, 65, has parented two generations of children. He has two adult children, ages 40 and 41, and a 6-year-old daughter who attends public school in San Francisco. That’s given him time to see how things have changed.

“Forty years ago, men were glued to the television on Sundays,” Goldberg said.

These days, thanks in equal parts to video-recording devices and to more of a shared workload with their spouses, dads are more apt to be out playing with their children.

Some dads, such as single parent Rufus Ashford, are involved in their child’s schooling because there’s no spouse to share the load. In fact, one of the reasons he pitches in at Friends of St. Francis Preschool, where his 3-year-old daughter, Aftan, attends school, is so he can build relationships with fellow parents to share baby-sitting and other responsibilities.

However, Ashford said, the main reason he helps out is to support his daughter and her education. And, while he may not be baking cookies, he is helping design the school’s first cookbook, filled with recipes from parents at Friends of St. Francis.

By the same token, schools are working harder to draw dads in. Even though parental involvement falls off in high school, Balboa High School Principal Patricia Gray said she finds her students’ fathers are often enticed by fundraising barbecues or sports-related activities.

“When men are involved, it gives some balance,” Gray said.

Schools with largely immigrant populations may be fighting some patriarchal traditions when it comes to getting fathers involved, according to Lonnie Chin, principal at The City’s Spring Valley Elementary School, where the majority of on-campus parent volunteers continue to be women.

Still, Chin has her ways of luring the fathers.

“What does bring dads out is a workday — to clean up the school, fix benches or touch up the paint,” Chin said.

While many same-sex couples learned years ago to divide their workloads based on skill rather than gender, heterosexual couples are beginning to discover that same approach, said Hoa Voscott, who is raising his 12-year-old son, Yuen, with his male partner.

“Even for straight couples, men are playing a much bigger role now,” Voscott said. “There’s no ‘mom’s role’ or ‘dad’s role’ — it’s just individual roles.”

bwinegarner@sfexaminer.com 

Father’s Day facts

 » The idea of Father’s Day was conceived by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909. A day in June was chosen for the first Father’s Day celebration — June 19, 1910, as proclaimed by Spokane’s mayor — because it was the month of Smart’s father’s birth.

» The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Father’s Day has been celebrated annually since 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

26.5 million: Fathers who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2006

159,000: Stay-at-home dads in 2006(estimated)

282,000: Children cared for by stay-at-home dads (estimated)

400,000: Single fathers in 1970

2.5 million: Single fathers in 2006

19%: Single fathers who live with their children

30%: Children younger than 6 living with married parents in 2003 who ate breakfast with their fathers every day.

64%: Children younger than 6 living with married parents who ate dinner with their fathers every day.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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