This week’s Newsweek has one of the better first-person accounts of fatherhood I’ve seen in a while. It syncs up pretty closely with my experience and manages to make two important — though somewhat contradictory points:
1. Today’s dads are different from those of a generation ago in terms of their view on family.
2. We still have a ways to go before anyone can declare the age of egalitarianism has begun.
The lack of number (2) in stories about modern dadhood has been gnawing at me, and I’m glad to see someone admit that while dads in general are doing a lot better than any other time in post-industrial America, it’s not time to start handing out medals. (I also want to point out a less-rosy take from from gamingwithbaby.com: author Brian Braiker did the at-home thing for a year, basically, a sabbatical that doesn’t exactly make him an expert in at-home fatherhood. Still, Brian seems to get it — and he rails against “Mr. Mom” — so I’m inclined to give it a pass.)
But … Newsweek also ran a very interesting piece from a mom who says her involved husband just ain’t making a difference in her life. Titled: “The ‘New Dad’? Give Me a Break,” the author extols her mate as “more dedicated than any father I know,” after noting that he
… hasn’t seen the inside of a grocery store since he worked at one back in high school. Stocking the fridge is my task, as well as getting our son to school, scheduling his speech-therapy appointments, making dinner …
The piece bugged me: it’s a reminder that just doing better than our fathers (or the guy down the street) isn’t actually enough to make a difference. How you can possibly be the most involved dad around without doing any of the cooking/cleaning/errand running/etc. is beyond me. I know that every family divides responsibilities differently, but it seems that if you want to wear the “new dad” label, you need to do some actual heavy lifting.