Time Magazine: Fatherhood 2.0

Does being more of a father make you less of a man? To a group of committed dads assembled one night in a New Jersey diner, the answer is obvious. Sort of. Paul Haley, 38, a father of two, says women look at him when he walks down the street with his kids. “I think it’s admiration,” he says. Adam Wolff, also 38–with two kids and one on the way–ponders what it means to be a man. “Is my man-ness about being the breadwinner or being a good father to my kids or something else?” Michael Gerber, 36, father of a 7-month-old, asks, “Do you mean, Do we feel whipped?”

“I’m probably a little whipped,” shrugs Lee Roberts, 45. He’s a part-time copy editor, married to a full-time journalist, who has stayed home for nine years to raise their two children. “There are definitely some guys who look at me and think, ‘What’s up with him?’ Do I care? Well, I guess I do a little because I just mentioned it,” he says. Haley speaks up to reassure him: “Kids remember, man. All that matters is that you’re there. Being there is being a man.”

But what does it mean, exactly, to be a man these days? Once upon a Darwinian time, a man was the one spearing the woolly mammoth. And it wasn’t so long ago that a man was that strong and silent fellow over there at the bar with the dry martini or a cold can of beer–a hardworking guy in a gray flannel suit or blue-collar work shirt. He sired children, yes, but he drew the line at diapering them. He didn’t know what to expect when his wife was expecting, he didn’t review bottle warmers on his daddy blog, and he most certainly didn’t participate in little-girl tea parties. Today’s dads plead guilty to all of the above–so what does that make them?

As we fuss and fight over the trials and dilemmas of American mothers, a quiet revolution is occurring in fatherhood.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

8 comments on “Time Magazine: Fatherhood 2.0

  1. Timothy Fountain says:

    Hmmmm…sounded good at first but reading the whole thing was a bit underwhelming, but then it’s [i] Time [/i] and kinda like news junk food.
    Nothing new or surprising in it, really. Not a bad article, just a rehash of stuff we all have heard or are experiencing.

  2. Wilfred says:

    One of the characteristics of a Real Man is that he is not always obsessing over whether he is a Real Man or not.

  3. CharlesB says:

    Is it irony, or too simple, to connect the idea that when mothers went to work . . .. Nah. I’m just too stoopid. Just a thought. sorry to waste your time.

  4. Larry Morse says:

    The heart of the matter is here, that “masculinity is bad for you.” We have heard this over and over, heard about testosterone poisoning, until men have admitted defeat and become more like women. When men take over mummy’s roles and work, does she have more time for sex? I daresay she does, and good reason, for it helps to keep the househusband under control. Sex has been a bribe (and a powerful one)for centuries, only now it is paying off big time. There is a particularly vulgar phrase for men who are controlled in this fashion, and ia see one half of the expression in “whipped” in the article. But there is such a thing as male nature, and there will come a time when it will show itself. I suspect it already shows itself now in the number of men who beat up their girlfriends; they are feeling the chain and the barbs, and certain men with low self restraint are rsponding in predictable ways.

    Mind you, it is good for the father to invest himself substantially in his children. They are much the better for it. The notion of the male as breadwinner and too busy for his famiy is relatively recent however, the bastard child of an industrial society. In the older agrarian society, men spent a lot of time with their children because they worked together, and as they worked, the family’s identity was transferred and its past recited and memorized.
    As they worked, the father told the tales of his father and his father’s father, and so, for the child, these tales were absorbed until they were part of the present, not of the past, and child’s living memory reached back 100 years. It is difficult to lack an identity when your living memory is so long and so full. There was precious little anomie then.
    But, then, who works outdoors any more, who actually works with his children? Mummy will pay for these changes in ways she is only now beginning to see becasue she has forgotten. Once, not too long ago, men and women worked side by side, or in close cooperation; they needed each other and they needed childen. I am 73, but I can remember this world well in Maine, the old family and the integration of the children into the true working family. REmember what Sam Adams said to his wife about “petticoat government?” Larry

  5. Albany* says:

    Neither men nor women are what they are suppose to be — and they both know it.

  6. DonGander says:

    I do not need to restate all that Mr. Morse aptly communicates.

    Also, Wilfred probably hits at the center of the idea.

    But my note in addition is that I did not really know nor was able to contemplate what fatherhood meant in the 20 years of being a father. It was not until I was a grandfather that I could look back on my life with any kind of practical criticism. Yes, in the first 20 years I had worked, worshiped God, taught, stood between my family and a crazed man with a sawed off shotgun, and the infinite possibilities of manhood, but I was immersed in it and I couldn’t understand my part any better than a lost person can contemplate the vast forest that he is lost in. But now I can see that vast forest; it is comprenhendable to me. I see its limits, its depth, its darkness, the rivers and lakes, and the pattern of its existance. I also see my wife’s womanhood far better than I ever have before.

    I don’t know where this is going….. but, perhaps we should listen to our grandparents a bit more than we do. Even when they don’t make sense at the time. 🙂

  7. Juandeveras says:

    “Research on the real qualities men bring to parenting is sparse…”

    Interesting, but probably not true.

    At 66 I can say I gave parenting all I had – as much as a divorced male parent is/was able given the ever-evolving child custody rules. I had a wife who left the marriage in 1975 when my kids were 6 months and 2.5 years. I was encouraged by all I knew to leave and start over elsewhere. They said the kids would adjust. I couldn’t do it. I saw 5 great ballet companies with my very young daughter: the Bolshoi, the Cuban, the American Ballet Theater, the Kirov, and one more I cannot remember. Somehow the issue of masculinity never came up. I was my son’s Little League coach, deliverer to 5:00 AM hockey practices, attender of Pop Warner football games and college track meets. I received a totally unexpected standing ovation about a decade ago when I “testified” before the congregation of my evangelical church as an encouragement to single fathers – my son had been named Athlete of the Year in track at his college the same weekend as my daughter graduated from another college. Last year I attended my daughter’s marriage, a year after she received her MBA. Think how much better of a father I could have been if I didn’t have to perform these functions while divorced and how much less stressful my life might have been. My son remembers every single thing I did with/for him – which were many. However, despite all I did, or tried to do, his view of me as his father is still colored by the comments from him mother about me. Remember, mothers, a boy’s view of his father is through the eyes of his mother. That is a result of research about parenting.

  8. Albany* says:

    There’s a lot of pain around this subject, and I think that’s telling. Perhaps the most noxious addition from the gender agitators has been resentment itself. We use to function in a more or less natural and coherent way, now we have been trained to take offense and feel the victim. A male boomer friend shot a nice line to me once about all this. “Why can’t we just hold our water like our fathers.” That’s the loss, and the women know it too.