Daniel Davila grew up with an absent father. Not absent in the sense that he was never home, but absent in the patriarchal, 20th century sense that traditionally led most men down the path of servitude in lieu of fatherhood.
“He wasn’t around because of his job,” Davila said. “He tried to be, but most summers he would be gone for a couple of months at a time working in Hong Kong or Chicago or wherever his company needed him at the time. It was cool when he would come home with souvenirs and stuff, but not so cool to have him miss baseball games, soccer, football, campouts - all the traditional summer stuff.”
According to Davila, his father did not enjoy a lot of the modern quirks of the 21st century father while traveling the world as a sales representative in the 80s and 90s.
“We do similar work, so when I talk to him about it now it’s funny to hear him talk about how when he was on the road he’d have to find a pay phone for an important sales call, or how he would have to scour through the Yellow Pages in search of someone who had a fax machine so he could send and receive purchase orders,” Davila said laughing. “I mean I’ll complain about having to go into my office an hour early just so I can sit in a live conference with people in offices around the world. That’s really why I never blamed [my father] for being gone, because I know he would have been there more often if he could have been.”
Nurture over nature
Unlike his father, the younger Davila, now 41 and with three children of his own, is home far more often. And his situation is not unusual as remote work spaces have allowed working parents to be more present in their children’s lives. A growing trend for 21st century fathers is that of taking up an equal role in raising and nurturing their children along with their wives or partners.
“I know what it was like to miss my dad and I wanted my kids to know that I was going to be there for as many events as I could,” Davila said. “Him being gone was an important lesson for me. It’s true he was gone anywhere from three to five months out of the year for all of my childhood and most of my adolescence, but when he was around, he made the most of it.”
And that is what Davila is doing now, he added, spending time with his children that otherwise may not have been available 20 or 30 years ago.
“Being able to work remotely and set my own schedule has helped me take [the kids] to doctor’s appointments, get them ready for school, prepare lunches, change diapers, potty train, all the stuff that in my childhood home was a motherly chore is, in my house, a parental chore,” he said.
Involved fathers shape better future for children
Though traditional roles are still prevalent in a majority of modern societies, studies show that more fathers are taking on nurturing roles, something that will help those children in their development.
Children and adolescents with more involved fathers benefit with improved cognitive, emotional and social development. Furthermore, those children are more likely to succeed academically; more likely to show confidence in their abilities; more likely to enjoy positive relationships with peers; and more likely to have successful careers and families of their own in adulthood.
“I guess that is what we ultimately strive for,” Davila said. “I just want them to be well-adjusted and content. I feel like being with them, will help them get there.”