Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dad’s Role in the Home: Then and now ~Guest post by Agent Cheerio (spouse to priddymomma))

Hey all!  We're very excited to have guest bloggers this week!  Our men want their says (read:  we made them or ELSE!).  Enjoy!  See you next week!

Shh!  I'm secret.
First, I’m honored to be part of the wildly popular blog, The Case of the Missing Cheerios.  I hope I do these awesome moms justice with my guest post.  My name is Miles, but let’s say for this article you can call me Agent Cheerio.  I’m here with a briefing (so listen up dads), especially you dads who were press-ganged into reading this article by some other awesome mom out there.

Let’s take a short walk down the memory lane that for us never was.  I’m talking about the time when dad went out to work and the moms were in charge of the ‘homey stuff.’  Dad was home by five, dinner was up by five-thirty (or else, cause dads had the authority to be whiny and get away with it).  Mom took her hair out of rollers about a half hour before he showed.  He greeted his wife with a peck, a curt head nod, a ‘hi honey’ and went immediately to the more important task of finding his pipe and his scotch and to put up his feet.  After all he’s certain he worked harder than mom, didn’t he.

Ahhhhhh, it all seems so much like a show that was staged in the 50s, but shot in the 70s.  The good old days, right (polio, cold war).  Somewhere around here there’s an appalling home economics book from the 50s I saw once where this type of behavior was outlined in exhaustive detail.  Dad wasn’t entirely out of home-type tasks, there was always the furnace (Christmas story), and the lawn, and the handyman honey-do list.  Also, dad was always there when little Jimmy really screwed the pooch (You wait till your father gets home!).

As we roll the clock a forward a few decades to the 80s, we see things pan out a little differently.  Due to economic factors like a recession many families were doing the both parents work thing.  Mom could have it all, work and family.  Having it all can sometimes have its drawbacks though.  Dad may or may not be picking up an even share with at home duties, but probably isn’t quite on point with the kiddos.  Child rearing is after all, still regarded as a mom-sponsibily, right.  This time was right in my formative years, and I remember my folks working it out pretty hard, and leaving me in a whole grab-bag of places.  Everybody does what they have to to get by.  

This is pretty much where we are now, but with a few changes, some positive, some not so much.  Flexibility with roles and economic factors are yielding more stay-at-home dads than ever.  One of these factors is that women are graduating college at a slightly higher rate than men, as much as 25% higher.  Now, part of this number may have to do with affirmative action, but I say guys are on notice with this one.  More women graduate, I say bravo.  After all, if mom’s got more earning power than dad, it’s a no brainer to get her to work.

What if dad just isn’t there?  The single parent scenario is picking up momentum at an alarming rate.  Getting married or staying together when children come into the picture just doesn’t seem to be all the rage anymore.  Most of the time mom picks up the mantle, not dad.  I also sometimes feel a sentiment in the air where ‘dad’ as a concept is getting to be take-it-or-leave-it.  I’d like to think that fatherhood as an institution isn’t going out of fashion.

For those who are choosing to take up the charge of fatherhood whether family planning became your hobby, or it was thrust upon you by Captain Morgan, I applaud you.  In this age of equality and choices it opens up the door to a lot of the wrong ones.  Be there for your wives, baby-mammas and children.  Not much else matters.  I propose that fatherhood is polarizing in an alarming way.  For about every two absent dads, there’s a spot-on one.  These dads are sharing more child-rearing and in-the-home duties.  Only in a minority are they catching up with moms, but they are making the appeal for fatherhood.

(Any resemblance to Agent Cheerio is purely coincidental)
While I probably have an unfair bias, I happen to think that fatherhood and manhood are pretty strongly linked.  With expectations for home and family duties on the rise, the diaper-changers and teatime MC’s are the new macho men.  For those who can’t hack it when it’s time to clean vomit or go to the baby shower, they are realizing my biggest fear:  marginalization.  If mom proves herself as primary child caregiver, and as primary family provider, dad is proving himself to be decoration.  Be essential so you aren’t viewed as another unnecessary expense.  This is the awkward moment when I realize that the last paragraph pretty much summed up the plot of “Mars Needs Moms’ (great cinema that).

For one last personal note, the way priddymomma and I handle biz is a little bit different.  I do the sole breadwinner thing, and it has its ups and downs.  Ups: kids get more mom time.  Homeschooling is an easier option.  I get to feel valued and needed.  Downs:  No cell phone, no cable, no anything nice or new.  Mom gets cabin fever.  Mom feels guilty sometimes when we need things and the money isn’t there because society pressures are telling her she should be working outside the home too.

So what do you think reader? *bites nails as I review the text to make sure I didn’t mess with anyone’s sensibilities on this handful of touchy topics*  Do you share my anxieties about the decline of fatherhood?  Are you a success story?  Moms, does dad deserve an extra hug today?  Dads, does mom deserve a surprise act of service? Family matters, so don’t be an Urkel.

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