Response to #36 Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood by Kathleen Gerson
January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
In “Dilemmas of Involved Fatherhood,” Kathleen Gerson makes several important points about how truly difficult it is for men to be involved in parenting. In general, parents cannot afford to stay at home and spend more time with their kids. For both men and women child-rearing remains undervalued and largely invisible in our achievement driven culture. Fathers in particular have a difficult time getting equal parenting rights and feel left out when teachers and pediatricians ignore them and only talk to mothers. Fathers are undervalued and full-time househusbands are even more so, and receive great criticism for not working fulltime. Also, as women have left the household, there has not been any support for men to step in. However, the movement towards more involved fatherhood has been progressing with great results. Those involved dads feel great emotional gratification, have more equal marriages and are changing stereotypes about men and fathers.
Not only does this essay accurately describe the sentiment of many fathers I know who wish to be more involved, but it also highlights another pathway to work towards gender equality. Any movement in the direction of involved fatherhood also moves our cultural thinking towards valuing characteristics such as nurturing and caretaking over stereotypical masculine ones of power and domination. Here is a chance to merge the interests of women who want careers and men who want to be more involved fathers, and in the process change sterotypes about parenting and improve the dynamics of the household. Finally, since our experiences growing up are so influential in our cultural identity, such a change in household dynamics, parental expectations and perceived gender roles could drastically change the overall culture itself.