Thursday, May 28, 2009

Buy This Book: The Daddy Shift

Getting scooped by the New York Times is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I like staying on top of the whole at-home dad thing and being the first and most curmudgeonly commentator around. On the flip side, if the NY Times is beating me to an at-home dad meme, that means good things for at-home dads. After all, the Grey Lady's reach is a bit further than mine.

So let me graciously concede that the Times did a great job of scooping me by drawing attention to Jeremy Adam Smith's excellent book, The Daddy Shift*. She published a two-part interview with Jeremy yesterday, and it is well worth spending the next 30 minutues reading over it. A snippet:
... And yet men and women are living their lives according to scripts that are hundreds, maybe thousands, of years old, scripts that are not terribly relevant to our twenty-first-century reality. Women worry that they are being bad mothers when they go off to work; dads worry that they are bad fathers when they don’t. Some moms feel responsible — sometimes in overcompensating, overbearing ways — for kids and housework, and blame caregiving dads when something seems to go wrong at home.

But I discovered, in examining my own experience and in interviewing parents around the country, that these drawbacks can be overcome. The happiest couples I interviewed were the ones who prize time with kids and are able to articulate what they are gaining through a reverse-traditional arrangement. They value work and care equally, and are grateful to each other for the contributions each makes to the household, and so they value each other.
Needless to say, The Daddy Shift is a book well worth reading (and I may post a more thoughtful review once I have the time to sit down and really write). Jeremy does more than just gush about his choices regarding fatherhood, he makes a compelling argument that the whole institution of parenting is changing for the better because the definition of the "good" father is getting an overhaul.

* I'd say nice things about the book even if Jeremy did not include an absolutely unnecessary thank-you in it.

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