I have written about the motherly care that people receive from their caregivers. The tenderness, gentle touch, multi-tasking, and ferocious advocacy, are all synonymous with mothers. But, as I have written, that does not mean that motherly care is limited to women. Men are just as capable as women at providing fantastic care. Interestingly though, I think men put a different spin on caregiving that is beautiful and valuable.
Men Focus on Fun
The first male caregiver I knew was a friend. He was working with his wife to provide care to his young brother-in-law. He would often take the nocturnal shifts. My friend would shave and bathe his brother and then they would watch movies together all night long, if that was the most fun thing to do. He was all about balancing tasks with pleasure and making sure his brother was happy.
Fun seems to be the focus for a lot of male caregivers. My mother had a friend who lived with his mother to care for her. Every night when it was time for dinner, he would escort her to the table carefully but creatively. He would lift his mom from her chair and “dance” with her to the table. What a nice way to add charm to an ordinary activity.
Men Like to Make People Happy
Another man focused on joy is a caregiver I know through social media. He concentrates on trying to make his mother laugh. He thinks a lot about how dementia affects her quality of life and searches for ways to make her smile with movies and music.
Men Are Pragmatic
In addition to having fun, male caregivers can also be practical. Encouraging their charges to push past their perceived limits is a fatherly way. My cousin and his husband take care of the husband’s grandmother. They take her on fun outings and road trips. What I really admire is that they let her cook for them and with them. So many women in her age bracket have spent the better part of their lives cooking for their families. Instead of saying, “Just rest, Grandma. We’ve got the meal under control,” she gets to feel a part of daily life. She is allowed to contribute in a way that she can feel successful.
Men Think Differently Than Women
Men do things differently than women. They think differently. They tend to be more single-focused whereas women are often juggling about 75 different items in their minds. Sometimes multi-tasking can put a damper on spontaneity. Sometimes that is the only option for efficiency. But both types of caregiving brains are perfect.
We Need to Encourage Male Caregiving
As our aging population increases at a rapid rate, there will be more demand for sons to take care of their parents. There will always be a need for fathers to care for their ill or challenged children. Providing care in their own way, we should acknowledge and celebrate male caregivers. With my hat tipped to you, I wish all of you fatherly caregivers a beautiful day. Thank you for being amazing role models for current and future caregivers.