Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thanks to Feminism, I can be a Father

The other day I was thinking about one of my co-workers, he works while his wife stays home with the kids.  I thought that must be nice for her, but inversely, I realized that it also meant he must have to work a lot to pay the bills.  Being a “traditional” family, that’s sort of the way things go, the man works however many hours to pay the bills while the woman stays home with the kids managing the house and doing the majority of the child rearing.

Being a new father myself, I imagined myself in the same scenario—working fifty or sixty hours a week to make ends meet, then coming home to do home repairs, yard work, and so on.  I realized that such a scenario wouldn’t actually leave much time for me to spend with my child. But then it hit me, that’s exactly the point, I’m not supposed to be doing that—that’s the woman’s job.

In America right now, and especially during this political season, there are two images being portrayed as to what our society should look like; what it really means to be an “American.”  Many are suggesting that we need to go back to the “good old days.” What does that really mean? At least in the context of the family, when some speak of “traditional family values,” what they mean is the dad working and the mom staying at home with the kids.  Leave it to Beaver is the model of the true American family, the ways things should be.

Well, I decided I don’t want to be that kind of man.  I want to be a part of my child’s rearing; I want to help change her diapers, feed her during the night, and take her on walks.  If I’m working fifty hours a week, working in the yard, and doing repairs around the house I can’t do as much as that as I want.   So I’m left with a choice, abandon the traditional image of what being a father looks like in society or miss out on bonding opportunities with my daughter.  Sure, many traditionalists are going to question my status as a good man because I don’t do all the things they expect me to do (work, work, work), but so be it. 

You may be wondering what this has to do with feminism—everything!  It was/is the feminists who continually challenge the status quo, the ways things “used to be,” the good old days.  It’s feminists who point out that a patriarchal society only works for the men.  It’s the feminists who say it’s ok for me to be the father I want to be.  Think about that, I as a man am actually reaping the reward from the hard work of thousands of women over the years who have sought the end of a patriarchal society of “traditional family values.” 

More so, I have the assurance that I can encourage my daughter as she grows  up to do whatever she sets her mind to—no need to worry that only certain careers open to her or that she’ll automatically be considered lower than a man is intellect and capability.  Yes, there still is far too much gender discrimination, but I’m thankful for how far we’ve come.

So, thanks to all the feminists and others who struggle to change the status quo! I fully support you and am with you as we continue to work to bring equality and opportunity to all people.

1 comment:

  1. I applaud you Loren! One of my “pet peeves” is when I hear a Father say, “I have to stay home and babysit the kids…” What!?! They are your kids, be a parent…better yet be a Father and if you can…be a Dad. I also become very annoyed when I hear parents, Moms or Dads, say things about what they have “given up” or “sacrificed” to be parents. Fact is I have no regrets for making the choices I have made in my life, thus far, which I made with the best intentions in mind for my family. Decisions people “outside” my familial unit thought were terrible, or not the spiritual thing to do, things that broke tradition or might tarnish the overall family image. I had desires and dreams as a young man, trying to establish myself as an individual, a plan as to where I wanted my life to go by the time I was 25, or 30, or 40, or even 50. I made certain decisions which took my life, in reality, in very different directions. That being said, most of those decisions were made so I could have an active role in the lives of three other people. I’d love to make it sound like I did them some great “favor” by staying in their lives, but the reality of it is, I gained much more from them then I could ever give. From the times when they would “break the rules” in some way that I found extremely funny, but I would put on my “Dad face” and scold them for what they had done, step out into the hall and bust out laughing, to the honor of having them welcome their Bonus Mom into our family, and watching those relationships flourish, to individual achievements for each of them. Working to keep them safe and teaching them as children, to becoming their counselor as teenagers and trying to help them understand the world around them, to becoming the advisor they turn to in their adulthood. Do I ever look back and say to myself “I wish (fill in the blank) would have gone differently”, sure I do, I still have desires and dreams, life has just gone down a different road then the one I had planned when I was a teenager. I am not done yet, and I look forward to where the road takes me from here. But I can honestly say, I have no regrets for any of the decisions I have made for being an active member in the lives of my wife or children.

    Fatherhood…the toughest job you’ll ever love!

    Uncle Les