To any Dads out there, Happy Father's Day!!!
As Father's Day approaches (just like Mother's Day, although perhaps not so profusely or obviously) the media begins to trot out all the stories both feel-good and controversial about dads and fatherhood. This one however particularly caught my eye: Mr. Mom vs. Working Dads: Stay at home fathers spark culture war.
So, the mommy wars weren't garnering enough attention, now we have to create the daddy wars? And to say that it is sparking a culture war seems a bit extreme to me. The term "culture war" is typically used to describe two conflicting belief systems or viewpoints in a larger debate; atheism and Christianity, Democrat and Republican, Liberal or Conservative. It is also used in reference to debates regarding abortion, legalized drug use, homosexuality/same-sex marriage, and so on. To bestow that term on working and non-working parents is to knowingly put out a grease fire with water.....it ends in an inferno. Parents, regardless of gender, should not be allowed to be divided by something as arbitrary as their status in regards to income production (especially since I have read recent statistics that suggest that many women and men of young children are choosing work that strategically allows them to balance out the two more effectively, although usually not very lucratively)
But, back to the article, which insinuated that while there is some conflict between working dads and stay at home dads, it doesn't appear to be as heated as the Mommy Wars. (I read into it, of course it isn't as heated because it doesn't involve women ). The author questions:
She concludes that men do experience some judgement by staying home, but that since there is so much variety in why they are home (because they want to be, because they were laid off or downsized, because their wife can make more) and they manage a work/family balance so differently, the judgement is not as severe as the judgement is for Moms. In fact, the article was so well rounded about the variety of Dads out there that it argued against a "culture war" between Dads (sorry media, don't be too disappointed). But the fact is moms have the same variety. To imply that it is specific to men is in a way demeaning to moms. Dads get complexity, but Moms are lumped into either/or?
The fact is that America is in love with its dichotomies and culturally speaking we separate out our entire world view into an us vs. them, Men vs. Women, Right vs. Left, Work vs. Home, Straight vs. Gay, Rich vs. Poor, White vs. Black. It permeates every aspect of our American culture and tempts us to divide every subject we encounter into an oppositional framework.
Now, I will admit the article fairly addressed the fact that despite the fact the movie of the incompetent stay at home dad, Mr. Mom, was over three decades ago, the moniker has stuck to Dads who are caring for their children full-time. One father makes a fair point when he comments that it isn't like his wife is going to go to the workplace and call herself Mrs. Dad.
All in all, despite the typical media fare of the article, it unintentionally brings up the questions of how certain things in American culture have remained constant; men staying home are merely masquerading as Mom, the Mommy wars are more heated because it involves women, and the staying at home/work conflict is a great thing to trot out on feel good holidays.
Regardless of how parents are working out care, we need to work on supporting ALL parents of young children and give them fair options that allow them to mix work with family if that is what they need.
In the meantime, go enjoy your Father's Day!