Emi, left, and Lucy get help with their homework from dad Jason Sperber. 

In today’s world, a father’s role isn’t as clearly defined as it once was.

Dads are no longer the sole breadwinners, and moms aren’t always the ones staying home to raise the kids. Sometimes the roles are reversed; other times, they’re shared equally. In some cases, there are two dads raising a family together. Regardless of parenting style, the common goal is to raise happy, healthy and well-adjusted children.

For Jason Sperber, actively partnering in raising his daughters seems like a no-brainer, especially in 2018. He’s been a stay-at-home dad since his first daughter was born in 2004.

After college, he worked as a teacher, before he and his wife, Michelle Quiogue, moved to Bakersfield. A family physician for Kaiser Permanente, Quiogue is a leader in the community, as well as a mom.

Sperber believes it shouldn’t matter who takes on which role, as long as it works for that family.

“Involved fatherhood and the normalization is part of feminism,” said Sperber. “It’s part of the struggle to make a more equitable society for all genders.”

Men shouldn’t be valorized for doing normal things, according to Sperber. Having conversations with his daughters, being present, those are the things that make a difference in any family.

Father of five Timothy Swanson has always partnered equally with his wife, Amanda, in raising their children and can’t imagine things being any other way. The pair work together to home-school their children, as well as working outside the home. A family law attorney, Timothy entered into his marriage with a mind toward equity.

“I always assumed we’d have an egalitarian kind of thing and figure out what kind of worked in terms of house work, etc.,” said Timothy. “There are some things we’ve fallen naturally into. The cooking was a significant thing (for me). In my family, the men all cooked, (so) I told her when we were discussing marriage that we shared the kitchen or it was a deal breaker – it’s my space, too.”

When they were expecting their first child, Timothy had just started his private law practice and Amanda was working her first nursing job. Since she carried their medical insurance, it made sense that she would go back to work and he would share in the responsibility of caring for their daughter.

“It takes a lot of pressure off both parents if you can be flexible like that. (There’s) never the worry of the children being with either parent. It opens up the options (knowing) the kids are in good hands either way; you can just do what you need to do,” said Timothy of their parenting approach.

For Jesse Corona and former partner Jason, parenting is a team sport. Although they separated when their daughters were 2 and 3, they have always participated equally in raising them.

From the beginning, their significant others also stepped up. As a result, the girls have the support of four loving parents. The six spend most holidays together and even take joint-vacations, because they believe that is what is best for their daughters.

“They already have enough stacked against them,” said Eddie Murray, Jesse’s partner of seven years.

Getting along with one another seems like a no-brainer for these devoted fathers.

“We put our differences aside,” said Jason. “We brought these kids into the world in an unconventional way. (So) when you’re having a bad moment, you get over it real quick.”

To the outside observer, these families may seem very different from one another. But when you look closely, it’s apparent they all share something in common: a desire to raise their children in a loving environment, while supporting their partners in whatever ways work best for their family’s unique needs.

That is a family value we would all do well to strive toward. 

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