New Momism/Involved Fatherhood
January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
I was struck by the readings “The New Momism” and “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood.” It seems to me that although women have now entered the workforce and many women are encouraging their partners to share housework and childcare duties, our gender norms and social structures have not caught up. Even the perspectives each essay takes are telling. In “The New Momism” childcare is described as a type of labor working women are expected to do—and do it well. For the men of “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood,” childcare is something they (as working fathers) are not expected to do, but something they want to do. It is not described as work, but rather as the state of being an “involved father.” What does it mean that when we are discussing these issues, childcare given by mothers is described as a type of labor and childcare given by men is described as a state, a way of being for the father?
Even so, the new image of motherhood in the US is also a state of being, one that includes the childcare women provide. In addition to childcare though, the mother should be a worker, busy but flowering in perfection. There is no new image of fatherhood. Good fathers are still fathers who pay all the bills and provide for their children financially. Fathers who want to become “involved fathers” have no images or ideals to work from. They are diving into unchartered territory; their path is not yet a socially recognized one.
As more women realize the ideals of motherhood as presented to them by the media are unobtainable and more men strive to provide more of the childcare in their marriages, will the structure of labor change? Will workplaces make changes to help both mothers and fathers?