Fathers

I wrote the op-ed below around Father’s Day. I was inspired by how much (positive!) coverage I was seeing of men as Dads in the media, but I also wanted to question how the way we talk about men as fathers limits the way we think about and respond to them.


Twenty years ago, the stay-at-home father was a curiosity, a spectacle, viewed with a mixture of suspicion and praise. I know this because I began to conduct research on these men two decades ago. They were hard to find and reluctant to speak about being the odd man out in a sea of mothers or what one father called “estrogen-filled worlds.”

Today, stay-at-home dads are everywhere. They walk proudly with their babies in slings; they’re daddy bloggers creating online and community dad groups; and they’re injecting a male presence at library story time and infant play groups. Television programs, such as Modern Family, Up All Night, and Parenthood, portray stay-at-home dads as smart, handsome, willing, and content. And high-profile women such as Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Christiane Amanpour, and Sarah Palin all live with men who have been called, or call themselves, stay-at-home dads.

The term ‘stay-at-home dad’ (SAHD) is part of our 21st century discourse and is used in a taken-for- granted manner by academics, journalists, and bloggers. The term is important. It signals a radical shift in traditional gendered forms of breadwinning and caregiving. Yet I think it’s time to re-think the stay-at-home dad label.

…Read the rest of the op-ed here.


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In June I was asked to join a debate in the New York Times about fathers and parenting discussions. The question posed was a provocative one: despite the fact that “today’s dads…change diapers and shake up the P.T.A.,” fathers remain marginal in “the national conversation” about parenting. Simply put, the debate’s creator wanted to know why “we still think of ‘parenting’ as ‘mothering’?” Here is what I wrote in response.

The premise of this forum is that dads rarely appear as active participants within parenting disputes and debates.

I disagree.

As someone who has been studying fatherhood for over two decades, I can say with certainty that men have not been left out. Leading scholars declared it a hot topic as far back as the 1990s, and in the last decade there has been an explosion of research on fathering. In fact, I am writing this piece while attending the inaugural Work-Family Researchers Network Conference in New York City where American and international researchers are discussing both fathering and mothering with equal vigor.

Click here to read my full response.

 

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Fathers in the Media

June 28, 2012

Every year for the past several years, major media outlets have marked Father’s Day by publishing features and commentaries about Dads. This past Father’s Day was no exception, but what is exceptional is how positive the articles are about changing fatherhood. Notably, while there were some vestiges of the strong/masculine/breadwinning father stereotype here and there, […]

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