Thursday, March 08, 2007

Scott Coltrane on the Importance of Real Daddying

So an insightful poster (Amy from Equally Shared Parenting) on On Balance today pointed to an amazing set of essays at the American Prospect on Mother Load and the fight for a family-friendly workplace. This is thrilling, and I am going to have to carve some time out to paw through the whole thing (which includes such luminaries/Rebel Dad heroes as Joan Williams).

But I did have time to read through the essay by Scott Coltrane, a prof at University of California, Riverside and the author of Family Man.

I am tempted to copy and paste the whole thing here, if not for copyright. I agree with pretty much every word, fact and opinion in the piece. Most impressive is his argument against the current emphasis on fatherhood promotion. I have always been ambivalent about those programs -- they've always made me slightly uneasy in the abstract, even though anything that can be done to emphasize the importance of fatherhood is a positive in my book. Coltrane puts words to my unease:
But [conservative fatherhood advocates] typically define father presence in vague and nostalgic terms -- as in marrying the mother and serving as a "masculine role model" -- rather than taking responsibility for routine, everyday tasks like changing diapers or doing laundry. Wade Horn, former president of the National Fatherhood Initiative and now assistant secretary for children and families in the Bush administration, warned fathers against acting like mothers, saying the "new nurturing father ideal," in which a man "shares equally in all childrearing activities from the moment of birth," is "of course, nonsense."
As I get through the rest of the essays, I'll post on interesting, dad-oriented stuff. From the titles alone, I'm sure there's good stuff in there.

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