The powerful parenting journalist, Lisa Belkin, certainly caught my eye over the weekend with her latest piece titled, Calling Mr. Mom, published in the NY Times Magazine. After reading the article, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I found it to be an odd title for the piece…but, it is the title that hooked me in the first place.
I expected an article to unfold about the changing roles of traditional families and all that surrounds stay-at-home dads. Fooled, but pleasantly surprised. Instead, the article focused its time & energy on the “revelation” that American women will not achieve equality until men do. Expectations for men as fathers must change. I understand the path that Belkin has described, and I agree with her philosophy. Fortunately, her point is starting to gain traction which is why so many more articles, blogs, and other media are focusing on the “hot topic” of work-family-life balance from so many different perspectives. Additionally, it’s positive to see more countries abroad like Sweden paving the way on the dad front so we have more role models in which we may try to emulate in the future…or sit disgruntled, and whine “why can’t we be more like them?”
Some thought-provoking points from the article:
Empowering American women can no longer focus only on women — on leveling playing fields or offering mothers “on-ramps” and “offramps” or shattering ceilings one at a time. All those efforts must continue, yes. But none will succeed if we don’t change our expectations for men. Or, more accurately, men’s expectations for themselves.
Men today are at the turning point women reached several decades ago, when the joint demands of work and home first intensified. In her new book, “Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter,” Joan C. Williams describes how men find themselves caught between meeting cultural expectations and a growing dissatisfaction with the constricted roles shaped by those expectations. “You have to ask why, if women are asking men to change, and if men say they want change, it hasn’t happened,” she says. “Either they are all lazy, or they are under tremendous gender pressures of their own.”
Sure, you can peg me as lazy sometimes, but I think you’ll agree with Belkin (and Joan Williams) that more of the reason for the very slow change is the continued gender pressures.