“Wait for me Dad!” a little boy shouted as he passed the bus stop trying to catch up to his dad during their light jog around the neighborhood both in bright yellow matching running gear. While watching this scene I could not help but think to myself that this little boy is the cutest thing I have ever seen and what a great dad this guy was for spending this quality time with his son. As my time here in Australia progresses the relationship between Australian fathers and their children stands out to me more and more each day. Everywhere I go whether it is on public transportation, at the beach, in the city or even just walking around my neighborhood there are far more fathers taking their kids out by themselves than I have ever seen in the U.S. I see dads pushing strollers and riding bikes alongside their kids. Even when I see moms out with their kids, the dad is usually right there next to the mom. In the U.S it is so unusual to see a dad acting this way with his children; it is almost always the case that moms are the ones out with the kids.
This led me to wonder what is it in the Australian culture that makes dads more involved with their kids. My first thought was that it must be the divorce rate in Australia. I assumed it had to be far less than the U.S which would explain the stronger fatherly presence in Australian households. However, I found that fifty percent of all first marriages in the U.S end in divorce where as in Australia forty percent of first marriages end in Divorce. That is only a ten percent difference which is not the drastic difference I was looking for. There is no way that a ten percent difference could explain why fathers in Australia seem to have a more of a participation role in their families than fathers in the U.S. To go through and research all the reasons why this might be so, would be too long for this blog. What is apparent to me though is that it is common in the Australian culture that fathers are the ones taking the kids out whether on errands or just to have quality time. I cannot help but wonder what this says about American culture. Why did it come as such a shock to me? Maybe it is because in the U.S we do not expect fathers to spend time like this with their kids. I am not sure if I have the right answer to this question but maybe I will the longer I am here in Australia.
Divorce Rate 30/4/12 http://www.divorcerate.org/
Divorce rate in Australia 30/4/12 http://www.divorcerate.org/divorce-rates-in-australia.html