Friday, March 09, 2007

Where the Would-Be Rebel Dads Go

As I mentioned yesterday, there is a package of exceedingly interesting essays up at the American Prospect on the issue of work and family. With the weekend coming, I hope to actually sit down and ... be still my heart ... read all of them. But in the meantime I'm picking and choosing. First up (after the excellent Scott Coltrane piece) is a bit titled What Do Women and Men Want?

The essay -- by Kathleen Gerson -- answers a question I've always wondered about: if today's young men are really serious about having egalitarian marriages and playing a big role in the life of the family (and that's what all the Gen X and Y surveys say), then why isn't the involved-dad thing getting bigger even faster?

According to Gerson, most young couples set out on a path to the ideal of equality, but once those bumps hit and they realize that splitting everying down the middle isn't always posible, they go to a "fallback" position. Women begin preparing to go it alone (just in case) and men fall back into the breadwinner role. So I guess there are two challenges now: make it easier for couples to live the egalitarian dream (by rethinking workplace) and get guys to stop defaulting to the '50s style fathering model the moment work-life balance raises its ugly head.


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