Monday, December 17, 2007

Why the 'Daddy Wars' Are a Good Thing

Devra Renner over at DC Metro Moms read the same USA Today story as I did last week. And while I was pretty happy with the way that the story went down (the 12-word summary: "Dads are using workplace policies more aggressively to be with their kids"), Devra says the piece made her want to vomit.

The weird thing is, we both liked the underlying message about dads becoming more family focused. But Devra got all hung up on the phrase "Daddy Wars." As the inventor and chief defender of the phrase*, I beg to differ. Devra immediately assumes that "daddy wars" will have a meaning analogous to the wicked-dumb, parent-vs-parent "mommy wars" trope, but the USA Today piece uses the preferred definition:
"The Daddy Wars are definitely there, especially between management and employee," says J.T. O'Donnell, a workplace consultant in North Hampton, N.H. (emphasis mine)
Devra doesn't like the "battle" metaphor (she'd prefer we call it "sociological, economical and psychological argument for accommodation for family needs and workplace flexibility" -- or SEAPAFAFFNAWF, for short -- which doesn't have the same ring to me), but this is a fight/battle/war against a system that hasn't changed nearly as much as the workforce has. Just as we all fought for our right to party two decades ago, it's time to fight for our right to telecommute.

(In all fairness, Devra also calls from some cross-gender unity, wondering why this is only an issue now because dads are involved. And she has a point. But let's face it -- men are the laggards here and generally the obstacles to progress. If a critical mass of guys get hip to actually taking work-life balance seriously, there will be a seismic shift in the way everyone looks at "work".)

* Not entirely true, but humor me.


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