Friday, November 09, 2007

No. No. There Are No Daddy Wars. No.

A couple of folks have pointed me to this essay in the November Men's Vogue from former-war correspondent-turned-at-home-dad Charlie LeDuff. While I think it's great that Charlie has found dad-dom (and is enjoying it so), I'm really tiring of the first-person dad story (always by a professional write who -- and I speak from experience -- is never taking a huge career risk by staying home. Yes, I do live in a glass house, but there is a reason I don't pen a lot of first-person stuff about my life.).

But what really scared the bejeezus out of me was Judith Warner's response on her NYT blog (thanks, Andy!). Warner notes -- correctly -- that the last half of LeDuff's story was full of the at-home-parenthood-is-morally-superior crap that drives people so nuts about Caitlin Flanagan*, etc. The title of the post? "Daddy Wars."

Let's get something straight. I want to own "Daddy Wars." I think the next great battle over parenthood will be between fathers who want to be able to take advantage of the great flexible workplace of the 21st century and the old-line bosses who fail to see the light. It will not be between at-home dad and go-to-work dads. I'm not pleased that LeDuff has decided to spend so much time rhapsodizing about having to "decide if the child is more important than the stature, the action, the money" and setting up a ridiculous, non-existent conflict.

We have miles to go in this country to get a workplace and a social setting where people have real options about how to balance work and family instead of stark all-or-nothing choices. LeDuff may be proud of his decision, but he hasn't done the rest of us any favors.

* Speaking of Flanagan, what the hell happened to her? I can't think of anyone who appeared and then disappeared off of the cultural-critic radar as fast.

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