I read an article in the Sunday New York Times about a group of stay at home fathers that get together after there kids are in school. I thought it was great. However it sounds like others have some problems with this. It appears some of these guys have “type A” wives that are skeptical about their get togethers and concerned about its impact on their role as stay at home dads. Their concern sounds like one we’ve heard of from white collar dads since before the 1950’s. While I don’t have the luxury of being a stay at home dad, I think the issues it raises for us as a society are important ones.
First, it is a positive step towards balancing out the belief that dad should go to work, while mom stays at home. This model seems counter to the message that girls and boys are equal. How can we expect boys and girls to compete academically in school and later in the work force, and then expect them to regress into these antiquated roles? It seems more consistant to allow for the possibility that some families will consist of men who stay home and care for the kids while women go to work and earn the big bucks. .
Second, It seems we are more comfortable with women advancing professionally than we are with men being the nurturing ,responsive caretaker to the kids. It seems difficult to let go of the idea that all women are more nurturing than their male counterparts. It seems like such a set up for both men and women. Many women clearly are not interested in raising kids and are just not suited for mothering full time. Also there are many men that are more tuned in and emotionally available than their spouses, so why shouldn’t we accept them as the primary caretakers? Wouldn’t a family be better off if they could be more creative about the roles they play within a family?
Lastly, I understand that the idea of a group of men getting together to have coffee or breakfast and chat about their skills, trades, or parenting may seem counter cultural. ,But I believe it is just the beginning. Men, like women, have the human need for connecting with others. Parenting in a vaccuum is a very lonely experience. And considering these guys probably don’t have a natural way to fit into the groups of mothers on the playgrounds or at schools, it is great that they have each other.