A New Generation of Dads

A few weeks back, I asked dads to weigh in on compromises they make for their kids. I was surprised by many of the responses. These words would never come out of the mouths of the fathers I know:

"I patterned my life to accommodate my son, our only child. That's not to say I want an uber baby...Rather, it is to say that my ultimate gift to the evolution of mankind is my child. Maybe he'll grow up and do stupendous things. Maybe he'll just remember to come home for Thanksgiving. Either way, I hope he is happy, adjusted and that you or anyone who come into contact with him will be better for it." -- Major, 42, Chevy Chase, Md.

Maybe part of my problem is that I don't know any men who feel comfortable articulating what their ultimate gift to the evolution of mankind would be. The rest of my problem may be that I've never asked the men in my life to articulate what their ultimate gift to the evolution of mankind would be. I should.

"If both parents have demanding careers, then someone will get burned out and the children will suffer. That this role should automatically be the woman's is silly and archaic. Most of the husbands my age are taking up more of the burden of household chores. I'm the point parent for unexpected absences, doctors' appointments and picking our infant up from daycare. My job is eight hours and then I'm done...while I would like more challenging work, this current position meets my family's needs." -- Steven, 31, Richmond

Given that Steven is 31, maybe there's a growing reality that younger husbands are doing more to help women get that elusive "equality at home" we need so dearly.

"I don't think you can be prepared in advance for just how much you are willing to sacrifice and make changes to yourself for the benefit of your children...Love, nurture, simply spending time with my daughter--these have nothing to do with gender." -- Brian, 32, St. Louis

This sentiment sounds EXACTLY like the way my mom friends describe motherhood. What is going on?

"Every night, the prayer I always make is 'dear lord, they're so beautiful, don't let me screw them up.' " - David, 51, Silicon Valley

I'm touched. I'm speechless. I love these men!

So my question today: Is there a new generation of dads out there?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 13, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads
Previous: The Terrible Teens | Next: Friday Free-for-All: Your Worst Childcare vs. Job Dilemma


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Your problem, Leslie, as well as many of those that have responded about "Mommy Wars" on this board is that you and many women out there are holding onto this stereotype of Men/Dads as uncaring, selfish individuals who sit around scratching themselves, drinking beer and watching the ballgame.

My question is: Can we stop stereotyping?

And, more importantly, has the worldview of you and others changed from a very narrow view to a more inclusive view?

Posted by: New York Dad | April 13, 2006 11:46 AM

I don't think we can stop stereotyping because stereotypes are born out of truth. Statistically, men have not been the ones to stay home with children. I don't think there's anything wrong with being surprised and/or gladdened to see men taking what has been - sterotypically - a woman's role in the home.

I will say, though, that I don't think that it's new for men to care about their children and/or care for their children - what I think is new is that it's being expressed more openly, more publicly. Which is true of a lot of things in our society. We're more vocal these days, about everything.

Posted by: DLM | April 13, 2006 12:14 PM

I agree that this stereotype must die.
I am a single father of two wonderful boys (4.5/6) they are "God's Gift to Me"
I am unsure of a new generation of dads out there but there's a new generation of moms and if things are to get done taken care of and enjoyed then someone better do it. Kids need love...FIRST, they need a schedule/consistency...SECOND in that order. What I see is that people having kids either are well prepared or not. Busy chasing a career or the money. Yes, you need money to raise kids but the kids need attention in order to develop.
My kids come first, that's why I have custody, I didn't plan on this but when my ex put her career and yourself first I was forced into this decision. I love my kids and they will always be first. Yes, I missed out on that promotion but I still have my job and the skills to get another if need be. I am a profession second and a dad first. That's was my choice when I saw the two wonderful Gifts God gave me at their birth's.

Posted by: Tim | April 13, 2006 12:14 PM

This is exaclty how my husband is. He wants to be as involved as I am. Maybe it is because we are young - 30 - but the thought that I should do all the housework, child raising, cooking, etc has never entered either of our minds. I'd say the same goes for all fo the friends we have.

Posted by: New Mom | April 13, 2006 12:21 PM

Leslie,

Is this your mea culpa?

It still looks like you are pushing an agenda in which men become the new 50's housewives so women like you can wear the pants and smack them around. Ugh.

Posted by: anotherguy | April 13, 2006 12:34 PM

I think it is a generational. For my dad's generation, women entering the workforce in large numbers was a relatively new phenomenon, particularly in traditionally male-dominated professions (he was an accountant). For me, throughout college, grad school, and now the professional world, there has been a much greater equality of women, at least in terms of numbers.

For my generation, I think, it is largely not even a question that women are just as smart, ambitious, hardworking and capable of being leaders in the paid workplace as men. Or rather, it has become obvious that being smart, ambitious, hardworking and a leader in the paid workplace don't have anything at all to do with one's gender.

Why shouldn't the same be true for men on the "home front," with domestic and childrearing tasks? So I agree that these stereotypes ought to be eliminated.

Posted by: Brian | April 13, 2006 12:38 PM

I don't think there's a new generation of dads; I think there's always been men out there who do their utmost for their kids, but with all the other cultural shifts going on, they've been ignored.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | April 13, 2006 12:49 PM

Being a two Dad (or Dad and Daddy, as our little girl calls us) household, we are fully committed to providing for our daughter. We both have professional careers that challenge us but are adamant that we stick to an eight hour work schedule in order to dedicate all other time to the family. We take turns cooking, cleaning, or other household necessities and cherish the time of reading stories, going to dance recitals, or playing in the park. I too thank God everyday for my little girl. There is no joy greater than being a father!

Posted by: DCdaddies | April 13, 2006 1:08 PM

I think men are more willing to express that kids are a major priority in their lives now, and to actively associate choices they make with those priorities.

I'm not saying that dads didn't make their kids a priority before, but choosing alternative paths was often couched in career-oriented rather than family-centered language.

When our kids were born, DH took paternity leave. His colleagues took "vacation." Now dads leave the office early for pediatrician appointments and soccer games -- and use those terms instead of "I have an appointment."

The language we use in framing these debates has such power -- look at how some posters have the ability to polarize this crowd! It's good to see parents acknowledging their priorities rather than keeping family life (and all the dozens of actions that must take daily to keep the ship afloat) behind a curtain.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | April 13, 2006 1:24 PM

Don't underestimate the previous generation!!!! My Dad often held jobs where he worked out of town all week and came home on the weekends. He HATED this, but for a variety of reasons, this was by far the most economically sensible option for our family at the time....and it was probably much tougher on him than it was on anyone else (there were many weekend where he drove 16 hours roundtrip, on top of his normal work schedule, through nothern Pennsylvania in the middle of winter in order to be able to spend a day and a half with us). This doesn't fit into the idea of equal sharing of parenting and household responsibilities (my mom obviously shouldered most of those, since she was the only one home during the week), but I think that the personal sacrifices he made for his family are as substantial as those made by parents who consciously chose to get off the career fast track in order to spend more times with their kids. However, I also think that my parents' marriage has always had a spirit of equality - I never got the sense that something was women's work vs. men's work. Our more traditional neighbor's were always amused/slightly taken-aback to see my mom out working on the car or doing hard-core home renovations (which she loves!)...and now that my mom is working fulltime and my dad is semi-retired, he takes care of the cooking (he's an incredibly cook) and the other household chores.

Posted by: silver spring, md | April 13, 2006 1:33 PM

Of course there is a new generation of dads. There is a new one every generation! Seems to me that mothers and fathers in each generation do what they can, given the circumstances of their time. Some do well and others don’t in the context of their situations. It’s easy to be temporal chauvinists but I suspect that we are doing no better and no worse than other generations.

Posted by: Eliot | April 13, 2006 1:34 PM

I wear my "I an a ButtWiper" badge with pride. So, here's to you all you fellow buttwipin' Fathers. Lets all go down to Hooters for a beer and share our mounds of joy we've accumulated raising the ones we love the most.
Don't forget to bring the kids!

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 13, 2006 1:35 PM

Re: Generation of Dads

In a way, I believe there is a new generation. Like just about everything else, there is a great deal more information available to parents and I believe that men generally have a better understanding of the importance and rewards of being a nurturing parent. I'm 50 years old and can honestly say that I never heard these words from my father (he died several years ago): "I love you." I don't doubt that my father loved me (it manifested in many ways), however, there appears to have been an unofficial rule or code which prevented fathers, like mine (many of my friends had similar experiences with their dads) from saying these magical words to their children. My son is almost 9 years old now and I have not missed a single day telling him that I love him. Ironically, perhaps not hearing it from my father instilled in me the importance of saying it to my son.

Posted by: Thomas | April 13, 2006 1:37 PM

Leslie, I think you need to get out more, broaden your circle of acquantances, or something. Like many men who post on this site, I split house and kid responsibilities with my wife pretty equally. She's a teacher, and during the school year she makes breakfast and lunches, I make dinner. I do the shopping, shovelling and most kid appointments. She does the dishes. She and the kids do the cleaning. During the school year, I do the laundry; during the summer, she does. Oldest son does the yard. When I was in law school before the kids were born, we lived off her paycheck; when she went back to school a few years ago, we lived off mine (and our home equity loan.)

I don't believe we're all that odd. We live in a neighborhood of families with children (a newly-developed part of town). Almost everyone on our block has kids, ranging in age from newborn to high school graduate. You will see many dads walking with strollers, grocery shopping, etc. When it is time to pick kids up from school or daycare, you see as many dads as moms or grandparents. Likewise on parent-teacher conference nights at school.

Now some of these dads are younger (like 30's) but at least as many are my age:45. I really get tired of hearing and reading in the media (movies, TV, newspapers) that all fathers do is provide genetic material and a paycheck. That was probably generally the case decades ago, but it certainly isn't that way now. Yes, there are some lazy louts out there (my secretary's husband is one of them) but I truly believe they are a minority.

Posted by: wihntr | April 13, 2006 1:42 PM

Ok, so we've shifted the conversation to a "new generation of Dads."

DLM still sees it as Ok to stereotype Men/Dads and my sense is that this blog/column will continue to foster this notion of men as insensitive, crotch-scratching beer drinkers. It's just easier to fall back on stereotypes instead of a probing discussion. Always has been.

I hope this new thread of discussion indicates to the author and others that making blanket statements about any group of people is erroneus. More importantly, this new thread really indicates some thoughtful changes going on out there. Hopefully the author's worldview will change accordingly.

Posted by: New York Dad | April 13, 2006 1:48 PM

My wife owns a business here in Michigan. Several years ago she and I looked at our jobs to determine which, in the long run, was going to be better for the family.

Her job was a clear winner. We decided I would quite my job in management for a wireless company and would stay home with the kids assuming the role of point man for all kid communications, activities and household chores. Doing so has enabled my wife to focus on her business from 9 to 5. While the kids are at school I run our 2 ministries. I have a very fulfilling life.

I must add that when people ask me what I do it has always been difficult to tell them and it still is.

John S.

Posted by: John In Traverse City | April 13, 2006 1:51 PM

I agree w/most of the comments already posted. But I also think we need to note that part of what may have changed is the notion that any "rewarding" job necessarily requires far beyond 9-to-5, five day a week schedule. Ward Cleaver didn't do much child-rearing or housework, but even he was home for breakfast and dinner every day. Now we have two-career couples many of whom feel that they have to "compromise" in order for ONE parent to be home for breakfast/dinner.

My wife and I are fortunate enough to have jobs that let us both work relatively sane schedules (although there's a lot more computer time after the kids are in bed than I'd like). But the idea that these kinds of jobs should be viewed as a "compromise" as compared to jobs with more prestige but entirely insane schedules strikes me as a sad commentary on the state of our society.

Posted by: Dad 1st/Lawyer 2nd | April 13, 2006 1:56 PM

Having a whole thread that could be titled "Do Dads actually contribute to family life, or do they just watch football and provide cash" is as insulting as debating whether women are really intelligent enough to work or if they are just good for dusting and childbearing.

A Mom

Posted by: anon | April 13, 2006 2:17 PM

I do think that there is a new generation of dads out there, and that it is a generational thing, although of course there are exceptions. My husband and I are in our late 30s. I have a demanding career. My husband is in school. He is the point parent for our son -- the guy who takes him to school and picks him up. We both cook, he on weeknights, I on weekends. We both do laundry and housework. But truly, my husband does nore because he has more time at home. To my husband, taking on this role is natural. To me, being the breadwinner is natural. We are a team, and we help each other as needed. No expectations that gender should dictate our roles, but rather an expectation that we should do things in an equitable and practical way. So for now, he takes classes, takes care of our son, and does 2/3 of the housework. I work long hours and chip in as needed. We live comfortably and happily on one salary for now. Down the line, who knows? He might have the more demanding job and I may want to cut back a little. We are flexible. I wouldn't have married a man who could not be flexible in that regard.

Posted by: MomInMd | April 13, 2006 2:19 PM

I don't think the stereotype is ready to die just yet. Plenty of women complain on Bunko night about how little their husbands do and how often they (the women) are left holding the family together. Of course, these are also the women who complain about being on an "allowance". No kidding. I find it sad for them, but as far as I can tell, most of them knew what their husbands were like and would be like long before marriage.

I am very happily married to a wonderful man who participates fully in his children's lives, who is 50-50 with me in most of the household responsibilities and child raising stuff (diapers, etc.), but who also admitted just last night that he has no idea how much we pay each month for preschool or when the next parent teacher conference day is. He would know this if he read the weekly handout we get from the school, and which I leave out on the counter for him. I think it's that responsibility/task thing again. But quite frankly, I am not willing to let him take on more responsibility when it comes to the kids. I like doing it myself.

Posted by: MJEMom | April 13, 2006 3:01 PM

I have to echo the comments of Dad 1st/Lawyer 2d. What's messed up is the idea that getting ahead requires people to bill 2400 hours a year and work 80 hour weeks. Our society's notion of work is totally bizarre and backwards.

I think what you are beginning to see in my generation and younger (I'm 30) is a rejection of these choices and options. I gave up firm life very quickly and took the pay cut to work for a non-profit. I am equally involved in household work and childrearing.

I also think that for most non-independently wealthy people of my generation, the idea of women staying home is quaint if you want to live in this area given the average cost of housing. So we simply don't view this the way people of prior generations did. For a household to function today, roles have to shift.

As for the negative stereotypes, let me ask this: Did anyone else read American Baby or other women's magazines on parenting when you (or your wife) were expecting? Note the lack of articles that mention fathers at all. When they do, note the fact that fathers are almost always described negatively.

If you want to end whatever truth is left of the stereotypes, it would be nice if the women's media stopped telling women that fathers are dumb and worthless from the getgo and started talking more about partnerships in child-rearing.

Posted by: Another Lawyer Dad | April 13, 2006 3:07 PM

When I was growing up, all we heard about was how much harder and longer hours the Japanese worked than Americans. Recent studies show that is no longer the case.

The request for comments is also a bit self-selecting, as it's nothing like a random sample -- it's a sample of dads who actually took the time to read and respond to your column.

Balancing life and work is just that -- a balance, and while no one should sacrifice family life 100% of the time, it's unrealistic to sacrifice work 100% of the time. A father who has a tough, demanding job (that may cause some sacrifices on the family life side) should get no less respect than a single mom working 2 jobs to make ends meet.

Posted by: DC dad | April 13, 2006 3:07 PM

A question for everyone: my husband and I both work, tasks get divided, negotiated, etc. My question is this... Mon-Fri our daughter is busy all day with school anyway so I might as well work. When we're all home by dinner time, it's all family time. We don't look at the computer until my daughter is in bed. Isn't she getting enough parenting? The only time we can be together weekdays is about 5:30 pm until bedtime and of course it's packed with homework, bath, story. Weekends are all family time, no computer or work. Are people coming home after kids are in bed or something? going off in all directions on weekends? Is this what we mean when we say there's an issue with two parents working?

Posted by: CassiesMom | April 13, 2006 3:36 PM

How old are you? All of the dads I know that are my age (mid-thirties), my husband included, are great parents who share the duties equally (whatever that might mean in their families). The quotations seem typical of what I know, not odd.

Posted by: momof2 | April 13, 2006 3:46 PM

If I could grow mammary glands to feed my kids when they were babies I would. Why are men stereotyped as irresponsible and not nurturing when only a few that I know are like that?

Posted by: Luan D. | April 13, 2006 4:02 PM

CassiesMom:

Not many working parents in DC area can be home by 5:30 so the issue is that if two parents work outside the house and don't get home until almost children's bed time, then there is no parenting. BTW, I am curious, what school is your daughter in that has her there until 5:30. Most schools K and up are only until 4 pm or so and then the kids go to after care. Another issue with two parents working long DC hours is that small children end up being in daycare from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm and while I am not criticizing daycare it is not an ideal environment for any child regardless of age or the quality of a daycare.

Posted by: bethesdamom | April 13, 2006 4:02 PM

http://metrodad.typepad.com/

I am breathless right now.

Posted by: DaddyO | April 13, 2006 4:08 PM

Leslie - you have GOT to get out of the henhouse, lady! Yes, there are men that put in less time w/ the house and kids, but the fact that they're contributing to the family (weekends, evening, their paycheck, whatever) shows they're good dads. "Good Dads" are not defined by whatever narrow definition you give to who does bathtime, changes a diaper, or cooks/cleans. There's more to parenting and running a household than all the errands. Yes, if I say "We're out of milk and coffee" my husband will be the first to say "Can you go, please? I'm all comfy on the couch." And some days when I want to be the one comfy on the couch I might be a little irked, BUT, he's here with the kids while I'm at the store and I know the they're having lively discussions with Dad during that time. For me (and I would gather most of the posters), that time counts as CONTRIBUTION TO THE FAMILY! If you have a chip on your shoulder because you and your friends like to complain about your husbands, then do it just amongst yourselves, please.

Posted by: alexandriamom | April 13, 2006 4:15 PM

I'm willing to bet that most dads on this blog were right there in the delivery room witnessing the birth of their child up front. That practice alone gave birth to a new generation of Fathers.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 13, 2006 4:17 PM

My husband and I both work full-time and, as such, must share the family and home chores in order to get things done (in a timely fashion and prevent each other from going insane). We have a four-year-old daughter and share in much of her care: we take turns staying home from work when she's sick, he does the dishes and I do the laundry, and we both do baths and stories at bedtime (plus lots and lots more). I agree that you hear more about the "involved" dads now, but I think it is more because it has become socially-acceptable to be that "kind" of dad. That isn't to say dads in other generations didn't help with the kids or home (although I know there were a lot who didn't I am sure there were a lot who did; my dad was definitely one who did), but I just don't think men were as vocal about doing these things -- and especially about taking pride and getting pleasure from them -- in the past. I am very glad to hear that more men are being vocal about this because I think that helps young boys appreciate childrearing and family as important and fulfilling and not just a "woman's job." This acceptance of the "involved dad", I think, will help create even more of them in the future.

Posted by: Heather B. | April 13, 2006 4:28 PM

I do think that times have changed and men participate more in the day to day chores, making lunches, changing diapers, and spending time with kids arena than they did a generation ago. This does not mean that the Ward Cleaver types are bad fathers, but it does mean that they are different kinds of fathers. In a world where women are out in the workforce, it only makes sense for roles to change. How fair would it be to expect the wife to work AND carry 90 percent of household responsibilities. There are, of course, Ward Cleaver types who have working wives and who don't pitch in to make their loads more equitable. Some women put up with it, but others complain. I would bet that wives complain not because their husbands don't contribute at all or because their contributions are not valuable, but some guys have not gotten it that when both parents work, both parents have to chip in at home. If one parent stays home and the deal is that that parent has the kids and the housework, well, at least it is a negotiated arrangement that both parties agree to. But when both work and the mom has to do all the cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids, while the husband watches TV and dozes on the couch, the wife is getting a raw deal.

Posted by: MomInMD | April 13, 2006 4:40 PM

"I don't think we can stop stereotyping because stereotypes are born out of truth. Statistically, men have not been the ones to stay home with children. I don't think there's anything wrong with being surprised and/or gladdened to see men taking what has been - sterotypically - a woman's role in the home."

There's a world of difference between being surprised and gladdened. Am I happy that women are closer than ever to workplace equality? Of course! Am I surprised? Not at all...if anything, I'm saddened that things haven't progresses more quickly. To be surprised is to admit that your you have expectations based on stereotypes, not real people.

-A Daddy-Track Dad

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | April 13, 2006 4:45 PM

MomInMD - yes, the woman you describe is getting the raw deal, as you put it. But she's holding down a FT job, she's also probably competant enough to stand up for herself. If she doesn't like that kind of arrangement, then say something, work something out, or even get out of the situation if it's that drastic. But don't complain to the world that you work AND have to take care of the house/kids. Blah Blah Blah - that's tiresome to listen to. Raw deal or no, it's your bed - either lie in it or get a new bed. My point is no one likes to hear complainers. (Ms. Steiner - that was meant for you, too, since you seem to like complaining about everything not - working moms, SAHMs, working dads, and on and on)

Posted by: alexandriamom | April 13, 2006 4:55 PM

Re: Another lawyer Dad

I totally agree with this poster. The stereotype is just that - a stereotype. And it only continues to hold credibility because we (as a society) foster it and wholeheartedly work to maintain it. There is a father's rights group (whose name escapes me) that has a campaign against the stereotypes of fathers that are portrayed constantly in television shows, tv ads, magazine ads etc. We've all seen these: the father who left to his own devices is unable to feed his children, wash clothes, or clean the house without using lawn equipment. Although this is clearly ridiculous, we continue to buy into it for some reason. Fathers are viewed by "moms" as another child to be taken care of and entertained w/ toys (electronics, tools, etc.). Competent Mom must constantly step in to rescue Dad and the family from Dad's poor childish choices.

My guess is the reason this stereotype lives on is that women do not want to really let go over their supposed domain of the household - although they constantly complain about receiving "no help" in this area (not only that, but companies don't want women to delegate this role either). They enjoy being considered the knowledgeable competent adult - something they are not believed to be in any other area of life. And of course, this knowledge and competence is not learned, women are intrinsically imbued with it. Thus, we are led to believe that men who are company ceo's, entrepreuners, entertainers, and otherwise intelligent and successful, are complete idiots when it comes to picking up after themselves, taking care of their children, and other basic household tasks.

Whats sad about it is that fathers are clumped into these "bumbling baboon" stereotypes and it pervades many facets of our society -- particularly the judicial system (talk to a father trying to gain sole custody of his child). And as a result, some fathers actually believe that there gender relegates them to a lesser and subordinate role at home.

Someone said that stereotypes are pervasive because there is truth to them. NOt really. STereotypes are like a one dimensional caricature - they hardly capture most of and sometimes any part of the truth.

The notion that fathers until recently have always been absent, non-participatory, or uncaring is unfair to a lot of fathers, including my father, who have always viewed being a parent as an incredible honor and responsibility requiring more than their monetary and DNA contribution.

-Daddyslittlegirl

Posted by: Daddyslittlegirl | April 13, 2006 5:33 PM

I have to agree that the stereotype of men in their roles as beer-drinking, scratching-somewhere fathers must die. It's funny that somehow we are a new generation of men for taking up the roles that supposedly used to be done by women in the home (didn't happen in my house). Maybe we are a new generation because we grew up seeing women as equals- and of course the catch is that we expect to be seen as equals- with equal opportunities in being with our children and raising them.

I have been married almost four years (no children yet) and we have always divided the chores equally- actually aside from the finances I have been the one doing the shopping, cleaning, etc. Life maintenance (like fixing toilets, mopping floors, taking out the garbage...all me).

With thoughts about children (we are in our late 30's), it has been interesting that the big debate is that we focus on living on one salary- and it always seems to be mine. My wife and many of her friends said something shocking to me once- that they always expected there would be a time when they could stop working and raise a family. How many mothers (or fathers, granted) ever raise their sons to believe that it's manly to be a man who stays home and raises his kids while his wife works. I think men kinda have to be comfortable enough with themselves to come to grips with that on their own. It's manly to spend time with your kids, but to actually be fully responsible for them while your wife works- somehow I doubt we are there yet.

If you want to throw out stereotypes, I think that's one that needs to go as well. Fathers, mothers- ultimately I don't think any gender is more nurturing or caring just because they have two XX chromosomes or an XY.

Are we a new generation- maybe. I am married to a wonderful woman that I love dearly and who does treat me with kindness and respect- as I believe I do her. But, it is actually kind of frsutrating to hear all this praise and hey made over this issue- as if we wouldn't want to be with children more if we could be, as if we really want to just lie around and drink beer and watch tv instead of going to football games and soccer games, as if we wouldn't want to be good husbands....duh!

Posted by: CD in DC | April 13, 2006 6:10 PM

The prayer resonated with me, she's so beautiful and full of joy, please don't let me mess that up! My gift to her is to teach her to seek happiness & knowledge and to feel beautiful along the way. I am blessed with a wonderful husband to share all this. He cooks (thank goodness), we balance out on sick days, I'm the laundry queen, we split the rest. And she sees a goofy partnership of love that adores her.

Posted by: TeamGrace | April 13, 2006 6:34 PM

There have always been dads completely dedicated to their children, and there's been a "new" generation of dads in terms of how they show it starting about 40 years ago. It has just become more and more common, which is great. How is it possible that this is news to Leslie? Over and over, I see evidence that she is unable even to imagine what life is like outside her small, priveldged world.

Posted by: nothing new | April 13, 2006 6:46 PM

Get out of your blog, Leslie.

Men are not the pigs you make them out to be.

Posted by: lesliesuks | April 13, 2006 7:10 PM

Actually, the worst part about that male stereotype is that it completely misses how confining the male role can be. Many women seem to think that men space out in front of football games because they're lazy chauvinists who only come home to ignore the kids and down a few beers before returning to the wonderful, magical playground that is corporate America. Actually, when I park in front of an NFL game on a Sunday, it's often because I'm bone tired from the endless days at the office. As an attorney, I am now ironically at the receiving end of the stereotypes that as a male I should be the provider, and that at the office all the guys do is stand around the water cooler talking about the game and thinking up ways to shirk their family duties.

For example, my firm will bend over backwards to accomodate female attorneys, because they show up as a percentage in all the diversity surveys used as recruiting tools in the law schools, and thus the firm doesn't want them to quit. Flex-time partner track? No problem. Reduced hours? Sure thing. 3 month maternity leave? Why not take 6?

Yet for a man to engage any of these purportedly firm-wide programs is an unequivocal and immediate kiss of death. Oh sure, ostensibly it won't be held against you, but in the decade since most of them became standard pratice not a SINGLE man has engaged any of them. Is that because we're afraid to spend more time with our families and wives? Or is it because we all instinctively know that, due to the foregoing stereotype, we will be secretly branded as weak or uncommitted or otherwise unreliable if we remove our noses from the grindstone even for a moment?

I like my job, and I like the people I work with. But I'd drop it in a second if there were some way for me to spend more time with my kids and still assure them of the financial security I can give them now. Not only is that stereotype outdated and, frankly, largely propagated by women, it's also immensely frustrating to those of us who realize full well what we're sacrificing to compete in the 21st century marketplace.

Posted by: Irresponsible Speculator | April 13, 2006 8:12 PM

I'm age 57 and my daughter is 18 in the fall. I'm not so sure this generation is entirely new in loving their children.

On the way home from the hospital after her delivery I promised that when she was 10, I would take her to the opposite side side of the world. I did, to Irkutsk, Siberia, and then Mongolia and China. The point was to show her something I did not realize until my military experience in Asia -- the world is a big place. The point stuck and she is very globally aware.

No, I was not and never have been rich, or even very affluent. For several years I have been materially not well off at all. While bringing her up, I didn't have new cars, missed dental work, to get some experiences for her and sufficient college savings done. I pretty much independently attended to her orthodontist expense, child care expense along with drop-offs and pick-ups, medical checkups, and all such stuff.

I can remember one day at the office discussng families when I casually told some colleagues that I did my best at my profession, but should I fail I could deal with it, but I could never go to my grave having failed as a father. Several guys looked aghast; one (a Christian fundamentalist) spoke up and said "there should be more like you." He was the only one who seemed to relate; and probably the only one who put his children above his golf game on the weekend.

I seem to have been dealt a perfect hand with my daughter, intellectually and emotionally. I got everything I wanted.

Posted by: On the plantation | April 13, 2006 8:44 PM

I have to agree that with most 30 something couples I know, we divy chores and responsibilities according to ability.

Did it have something to do with coming of age in the 80s? I vaguely remember the women's movement and the general movement towards racial equality of the 70s. I do know that we were constantly told in school and on t.v. that "we're all equal".

Posted by: Mom in Chevy Chase | April 13, 2006 9:53 PM

Leslie--you need new male friends.

Posted by: anon | April 20, 2006 10:15 AM

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