Don't Call Him 'Mr. Mom'
A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed a trend toward what the study's lead author calls "a masculinization of domestic tasks and routines." He compares this to the "feminization of the workplace in the past few decades" and describes an "alternative model of home life" built by at-home dads, with more emphasis on spending time outdoors, technology, and play. There's no such thing as Mr. Mom—children and families are healthiest and happiest with two parents who parent together but differently. And while women complain that a greater share of domestic responsibility still falls on our own shoulders and claim we want help, we have no right to insist that men do things our way.
When our kids were young, we wanted one parent at home if possible. Between the two of us, I was the one with a career that could support our family. My husband was eager for the opportunity to focus on parenting, so he stayed home during the day and worked a few hours a week in the evenings, while I worked full-time and spent my evenings and weekends investing in our family. Now, with our oldest only weeks away from the teenage years, we continue to see the benefits of that arrangement. Our girls are exceptionally close to their dad, he is well-positioned to challenge and guide them, and we truly function as partners in parenting.
It's compelling to consider at-home dads in light of Hanna Rosin's 2012 book The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. In it, Rosin claims the long age of male superiority has come to an end. In a new world, dominated by knowledge and relationships rather than physical strength, women hold advantages they never have held before. Even the longstanding global preference for male children is fading, and in some places, reversing itself.
If this truly is the "end of men" and traditional masculinity is becoming less dominant—perhaps even less relevant—in our world, women face a brand-new opportunity for grace. This is true in all our interactions, and especially true in the domestic arena, where we have long held sway. Will we allow men to express themselves in the home, or will we turn the tables and shut them out, as some men historically have done to women outside that domestic sphere?
Instead of planning "mom's day out," let's expand our circles to include men who spend their days parenting. Let's smile in camaraderie, not condescension, when dads change diapers. We have an unprecedented opportunity to open doors for men, to extend their vision of their own capabilities. Let's choose to bless, not to curse.
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