It’s amazing to think that 5 years have passed since we released Evolution of Dad. My wife at the time was pregnant with our daughter. In October, she’ll turn 5 as well. My elder son just graduated elementary school and our 8-year-old son is a budding comic book artist. So much has changed with my family since I made this film as I am sure it has in your life as well.
To celebrate this milestone, I reached out to the people involved in the film to hear how things have changed for them. Here’s what they wrote..
From Jeffrey Eischen, one of the working dads profiled in the film:
“As the boys have grown into their teen years, my role as dad has changed significantly. It is amazing how fast we transition from being the expert, “go to” source of information for all they need to know into someone that doesn’t understand things today. Effective 2 way communication is more challenging but just as important if not more so than when they were younger. What has remained consistent is making sure they know they are unconditionally supported and loved. We are blessed to have 2 great young men as sons.”
From Kevin Knussman, the ‘trooper dad’ in the film who sued the state troopers of Maryland and won when they wouldn’t allow him to use the unpaid parental leave afforded by the Family Medical Leave Act:
“I continue to work as a paramedic on a shift schedule where I work 7 days per month and have the flexibility to swap days or take off shifts when needed. This schedule provided the flexibility to spend time with Paige and Hope and attend their many sporting and school events over the years. I will always cherish my time spent with them growing up. Now I have an empty nest. Paige is a junior and Hope is a freshman at Salisbury University (Maryland). Paige is an exercise science major and is a First Team All-American softball player for SU’s softball team. Hope is a business major and is a goalie for the SU soccer team. Paige and Hope are both certified life guards and are living and working on campus.”
From Amy and Marc Vachon, two parents and advocates for what they call “Equally Shared Parenting”:
“Well, the biggest challenge by far has been to keep work in its place as our jobs have increased in scope and responsibility. We both still work 32 hours/week on paper, but reality is that work creeps into all of our other time – thanks also to continuous emails and the general American expectation of 24-7 response times. We’re both really fighting this battle, and not always winning. On the parenting front, our kids are obviously older now (Theo 10 and Maia almost 13) and even becoming self-sufficient. Maia takes herself to track practice, comes home alone and starts her homework and violin practicing, arranges her social life, and we’re very lucky that she’s a highly responsible, practical, solid citizen (we may sing a different tune as she really enters teenage, however). Theo has a grueling schedule of gymnastics team practice 12 hours per week…grueling on us, not on him – he loves it! We’re the ones doing the very thing we hoped to avoid – taxiing back and forth to this plus soccer for both kids, music lessons, etc. We know the days are long but the years are short, so enjoying every minute is the ideal. Our sharing continues to be the cornerstone of our relationship, with either of us doing housework, shuttling our kids, working with them on their homework, spelling each other for time to do spill-over work at home, etc. We’re definitely out of the diaper, bath time, nap time phase of parenting, but continuing to talk about how to share the joys and the duties is as important as ever.”
Alison got married June 15, 2013. George is getting married June 20, 2015. Our family is growing and we are blessed. Both kids found their way to extraordinary career success but both want families. In general I am impressed by their balanced view of the world and their lives.
Lastly, from Jessica DeGroot, who runs the Third Path Institute and who was extremely instrumental in my greater understanding of the issues of work/family balance:
“Despite the slow changes around paid parental leave and other critical public policy changes, every day I am struck by the number of dads I see spending time hanging out with their children — dads who during the typical “work day” are walking around the neighborhood, or having fun at the playground, or buying groceries and getting other family errands done. To me it’s one of the biggest success stories I’ve seen over the past 5 to 10 years. It’s also a pleasure to pick up the paper, read a magazine or watch a TV add and increasingly see dads portrayed as the loving competent parents that they are. I wish we would have also had more success around progressive public policy, but maybe these first two changes — the everyday involvement of dads at home — will help lay the groundwork for public policy that truly supports this new modern family.”
I feel very blessed to have gotten to know all of these folks as well as so many others who were involved in the creation of the film. It’s amazing to me that five years on, this film remains relevant. However, I do look forward to a time when the issues presented in the film (work/family balance, gender equity, fatherhood absence, paid parental leave) become much further resolved than they are currently and that The Evolution of Dad can be looked upon as more of a historical document than a call to action. Maybe that will happen with my grandchildren. Who knows? And in the meantime…
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!