Sunday, June 20, 2004

For Father's Day

Dads Need Our Support, Too (

there's a group of men out there who live in small apartments, separated from the families they started. they pay child support. some don't. they float on a cluttered puddle of disuse. some get bitter and think their situation is endemic of how feminism has ruined men (shout out to that sad sad sad some just disappear, becoming even less relevant.

but what if we thought differently about a man's role? the traditional roles we're often locked into can cause more stress than not. a father is more than provider. he's more than a cash machine. there's a crisis in masculine identity today and rather than blame feminism (which actually helps everyone - hello, paid maternity and paternity leave) i think we need to acknowledge the fact that a changing society requires that we need to change how we think of fathers.

my sister is married with two adorable kids. she and her husband went to high school and college together. they've been together longer than jennifer lopez and all her marriages combined. they share in everything. she works, so does he; she takes care of the house, so does he; when she has to leave earlier in the morning, he gets the kids ready; when he works late, she's making dinner and after picking up the kids from day care. they're partners. one day dad looked at them and said that times are different; he didn't do any of this when we were kids.

well, for good or bad, times are different. our lives are more quickly paced; our obligations are more varied; our lives are more cluttered. yes, one could regress to the simpler equation of mothers staying at home while the father is simply the provider. but now, families need more than a provider, don't you think?

i look at my relationship with my own father, my last remaining parent. last night we talked on the phone for 90 minutes, talking deeply about relationships, communication, and catching up on family news. we usually email each other every week. he's a conservative and i'm liberal and i once freaked out in a museum cafeteria and yelled that he was a fascist forcing a bunch of chinese tourists to move away from our table, but we staunchly defend each other. my sister and i are closer to our father than we thought we could be.

the other day a friend of mine said that i was lucky that my father knew me and my sister so well. it's true. my dad knows us. we know him. i feel sorry for those families who only look at their fathers or children across a huge gulf, through these narrow channels: provider, worker, dead-beat. what about friend, mentor, teacher, and guide?

if we want our parents, our fathers, to see us as whole, complex human beings, shouldn't we want to see fathers the same way?

No comments: