I grew up in Colorado, so it has been an honor and a pleasure to get to know author, politician, professor, and former first lady of the state, Dottie Lamm through my work with the ThirdPath Institute. Dottie and I participate in a bi-monthly call for people across the nation who advocate for individuals, couples, and leaders as they integrate work and life.
During the last call, Jessica DeGroot led a discussion about the “hooks” that can lead parents into traditional parenting roles– breadwinner and primary caregiver. The hooks include one parent developing more confidence and expertise, the desire to have parent-only childcare, and the Golden Ring– the idea that if one parent works really hard for the next five years, s/he can cut back later (often, this day never comes). Many people would suggest these hooks are gender related– women tend to be the ones that flex to support their husbands. I disagree. I believe these hooks are role-related rather than gender-related. I know, in many families including my own, that fathers have developed more confidence and expertise overtime, the father is serving as the primary caregiver, and the father is the one taking a step back while his partner pursues the Golden Ring.
Little did I know, Dottie was listening intently to this discussion, and she decided to write about it for her monthly column in the Denver Post. Her article, Mr. Mom in the 21st Century compares her experience as a stay-at-home mother in the early days of her husband’s political career to my experience as an at-home father now. She sees the same joys, frustrations, and inner conflicts. I agree completely. Men and women share many of the same experiences in the workplace, and there is no reason to expect that they wouldn’t have common ground at home.
Many thanks to Dottie for including me in her article– I look forward to many more of these discussions down the road.