I've mentioned Jessica DeGroot from The Third Path Institute in these annals before and here I am doing so once again. Jessica is someone who truly understands the larger issues of what is happening regarding balancing family and work and I am ever so grateful for her contributions to the project. The reason I'm waxing poetic about her is primarily due to an email she recently sent. We had been discussing some of the factors that help dads get more involved with their families. Here's #1 on her list:
"I think the number one reason men in professional jobs get more involved with family is because of the mother's attitude - for some reason she feels very strongly about having the dad involved."
Jessica's assessment seems to cut to the core of the issue. If moms really want dads to get more involved with the family then they have to be not only willing to give up some of the power in their 'separate sphere' of the home, but they must expect that involvement. If this expectation isn't there then the likelihood, especially given the current attitude of most companies, is that most dads will fall back into the traditional role of detached breadwinner.
Now, the good news is that we are in a current state of flux as to perceptions about what men and women can do in areas they were previously unwelcome. Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency is of course the most visible current example of this. Unfortunately, there's still a long way to go. Most moms and dads have a hard time with difference. Their identities are so wrapped around being the breadwinner, the supermom or what have you that they aren't willing to let go enough to let their partners in - even though doing so would make for a healthier and happier situation.
Author Julie Shields wrote in her book, How To Avoid The Mommy Trap, about how important it is for couples to sit down and really discuss these issues before having kids. This is a team effort and the more that men and women are willing to let go and be more inclusive, the more involved everyone will be and the better off we'll all be.