Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Mr. Mom Duty" is So 1980s

I would never buck against the sheer force of the mommy-blogging phenomenon, but the Tennessean's Official Mommy Blogger is not giving 21st Century Daddy's their due in referring to the "Mr. Mom" stereotype to describe her husband. While it may be exceptional for Mr. Emily Hartley to do some chores that bring up baby, some men-folk have been doing those things consistently for a number of years. Some of us are even stay-at-home-dads who do the primary child-raising, as unsexy as that may seem.

"Mr. Mom" is a quaint, period-piece movie, but it is about as relevant today as Betamax or Gary Collins' unease.

UPDATE: A couple of days ago a Wall Street Journal reporter showed herself to be less regressive in writing about nurturing dads than the Tennessean Mommy Blogger above:
For years, the stay-at-home dad has been treated as a cultural oddity, an ill-at-ease comic hero who can't wait to don pinstripes again and get back to the office.

Interviews with men who stayed home with their children for several years, and are now looking back on it, paint a different picture. While much attention has been paid to at-home mothers who opt out of the corporate rat race for good, many at-home dads are quietly doing the same thing -- finding flexible alternative work. And while the adjustment can be rough, some of these men discover at-home parenting marks a permanent turning point toward better life balance.
And it's not all sexiness:
At-home dads often pay an even higher career price than moms. After dropping out in 2001 for what he thought would be 18 months caring for his son, Eric Sonntag, a former magazine-circulation director, found returning to work so difficult that he had to job-hunt for two years, then take a 20% pay cut. Staying home "set my career back half a decade," says the Forest Hills, N.Y., father. He was "looked at askance" by many hiring managers, he says. When he explained what he had been doing, some asked disdainfully, "What else did you do?"

One reason men get Daddy-tracked, of course, is prejudice. In a 2003 study at Wake Forest University, 242 college students were shown mock personnel files of mothers and fathers who had taken leave for family reasons, plus others who hadn't. Asked how likely each employee was to be a good team player, such as helping co-workers with tasks, the students rated men who had taken leave lower than other employees. Male raters were especially biased, scoring leave-taking dads lower on the likelihood of being punctual and available to work overtime. Taking leave made no difference in how female employees were rated.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. Long ago, we made the decision to get by on one income, and it turned out that my partner could earn more than me, and collect better benefits. This came right after selling my business, so I thought it would be an easy transistion to primary caretaker. Not so much. It's been 6 years, and I'm still adjusting. I still work from time to time, but only on my terms, (hours, not pay) but even that is difficult when you are trying to be a conscientious parent. Meal preperation alone is time consuming, shopping, planning, cooking, cleaning. I can't even imagine how single parents do it. Anyway, nice post, Mike.