Sisterhood Blog

Breaking: Fathers Want to Father

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

On Monday, the New York Times ran a now heavily criticized story about working moms whose lean-in fantasies involve baking cookies and softball games instead of professional achievements. The article mostly focused on one woman, Sara Uttech, an agricultural association executive who is more interested in flexible scheduling and sick leave than promotions.

For mothers like Uttech, “the ultimate luxury for some of them, in fact (though not for Ms. Uttech), would be the option to be a stay-at-home mother. ‘I never miss a baseball game,’ said Ms. Uttech, uttering a statement that is a fantasy for millions of working mothers (and fathers) nationwide.” Unfortunately, fathers remained, literally and figuratively, parenthetical throughout the piece, leaving readers with the old-fashioned notion that, when it comes to the house and kids, mom is on her own. When fathers are left out of the work/life conversation it sends the message that it shouldn’t be their concern.

Thankfully, some dads have begun to speak up about this on their own, and what they are saying sounds a lot different than what the Times was saying with all those parentheses. Believe or not, fathers actually want to father.

As Bryce Covert over at The Nation pointed out, when men are offered paternity leave, they take it. California has a paid family leave program that 76% of fathers in the state take advantage of. Also, men appear to be feeling as conflicted about balancing work and life as women do.

Men have a thirst for this shift as much as women do. Rampell notes that less than half of workers of either gender are actually striving for a job with more responsibilities. The fathers interviewed by Boston College placed a high importance on flexible work arrangements, valuing it over good advancement opportunities and high income. One study reported that fathers in two-earner couples feel significantly greater work-life conflict than mothers, a trend that has been rising rapidly. Half of the working fathers Pew recently polled said that it is difficult for them to balance their jobs and their families. It found “no significant gap in attitudes between mothers and fathers.”

Tom Stocky, a Facebook employee, shared some of this thoughts on his four months of paid paternity leave on his, um, Facebook page. He talked about how it wasn’t until he felt good at parenting that he began to really enjoy doing it, and also how surprised he was by the double-standards for men and women when it comes to childcare.

An example of [these double-standards] is the ridiculous praise I often get for changing a diaper or buying groceries with my daughter. To channel a more politely-worded Chris Rock, of course I take care of my kids, I’m supposed to, you low-expectation-having (yet well-intentioned-and-undoubtedly-nice) person. It also still gets under my skin when people call it “babysitting” or “daddy daycare.”

He finished the post by saying how sad and even guilty he felt for having to go back to work.

If you have ever ventured into the mommy blogosphere, these sentiments will feel awfully familiar. What Stocky understands, like many other men and women but not the New York Times, is that solving the work/parenting puzzle is something we are all straining to do, mommies and daddies.

Follow Elissa Strauss on Twitter @elissaavery.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sisterhood, motherhood, paternity leave, jewish women

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.