The third contributor to the “Room for Debate” discussion at the New York Times over father’s role in the discussion of parenting is a woman, and she paints a positive picture of the role of fathers and of their increasingly active role in the parenting process and—most importantly—that this role is different than a mom’s role.
Andrea Doucet is a professor at Brock University in Canada, a researcher, and author. And she gives a summary of advances in men’s being a part of the discussion in parenting. From men’s roles in the Family Research Network Conference to on-line parents’ forums including more space for men to the formation of men’s parenting groups, Doucet offers a different take on the men-absent-from-discussion (or too inept to participate) mantra.
I am curious, though, about men’s reactions to different forms of media. She gives the example of the backlash against a Huggies ad that showed apparently some inattentive fathers. The outcry was strong enough for Huggies to pull the ad. Why is it then that sitcoms continue to get away with portraying men as inept or uncaring or foolish? Why do advertisers get a different standard than the shows they sponsor?
Doucet closes with the observation that “we need to stop looking at men through a maternal lens.” She says that men are not following in the steps of women and that this is a good thing. I would agree. She also says that men are being “active agents in creating their own fathering culture.” This, also, can be a good thing. But only if it is based on the truth of what a father should be instead of a reaction to something else.
Again, I will lay out my thoughts on this after looking at each of the seven contributors. I hope to get one more in today, and then we’ll see if we have any time tomorrow. It is, after all, father’s day!