Sunday, December 16, 2007

To War or Not To War

There’s been some activity recently in the media revolving around the ‘Daddy Wars’ term and I’ve been hesitant to support it, but the tide for me seems to be turning in my mind.

My hesitancy stems from the whole bloated ‘Mommy Wars’ thing which from my vantage point is a trumped-up concept by the media to rile women up and further cloud what the real picture is in terms of family/work balance. Every time I hear that phrase, I just shake my head in disgust. Frankly, it’s comparable to the ‘Stay-At-Home Dad as a growing movement’ articles and segments that keep cropping up. These are media pieces that focus on the wrong things with the (intended or not) effect of maintaining the status quo of people finding themselves torn between jobs that demand complete commitments and spending time with their families.

So, now the ‘Daddy Wars’ concept is starting to appear more and more in print and my initial reaction was to discourage the phrase as it seemed a thankless sequel to ‘Mommy Wars.’

However, something altogether more interesting seems to be occurring with the ‘Daddy Wars’ concept. The conflict isn’t being perceived between Traditional Dads and the Stay-At-Home Dads (which would be obvious manufactured companion to the ‘Mommy Wars’) but between dads who desire to have more of a work/family balance and their bosses, who are more typically dads themselves at a slightly older age and bred more on being more of a dedicated breadwinner. This idea was most recently written about in USA Today; and for a deeper analysis, please check out a commentary blog about it by Brian Reid, aka Rebel Dad. I’ve argued with Brian in the past against the ‘Daddy Wars’ idea but he seems to be winning me over on it. Thank you, Brian.

What this speaks of are two things: first, that the generation after mine (Gen Y) is gearing up for settling down and they seem to be wanting more family/work balance than any generation previously. This is caused mainly by changes in technology and more women in the workforce and with higher paying jobs; and I think these trends are only going to be intensifying as the years unfold. Second, as sociologist Michael Kimmel said to me quite succinctly in a filmed interview, “The ones who are holding back men from being more involved with their families are primarily other men and that the only way dads are going to be making more headway is by men being more supportive of each other at work when it comes to demanding flex time, a shortened work week and other creative work proposals to cause more family/work balance.

Let the first cannons be heard. The war has begun.

3 comments:

greg said...

what happens when dad is at home with the kids and dad plays in a band?

www.thechestpains.blogspot.com

another greg said...

I recently demoted (no, scratch that. promoted) myself from manager and projectionist to *just* projectionist at the theater where I work so that I could better balance my family/home/work life. I had also only agreed to be the manager temporarily for three months while they found someone else. Two years later I took a monthly pay cut to do make the change. My wife works fulltime as a school counselor and childcare is not terribly easy to come by in our little town.

Also, my wife and I agreed before having children that we should raise our kids (with the help of others) instead of something close to the opposite.

By being with them during the day I figure I get paid at least $800 a month just to stay home! Or at least that's money I don't have to make at a job.

My bosses (yes, there are many) didn't really like my decision, and we are still dealing with fallout from it. But a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do!

Dana said...

Hi Another Greg-

Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on your promotion! Drop me a line about where you live if you're so inclined. Would love to hear from you again.

Dana