Last week just about did me in. Maybe it was the mad scramble to find a size 6 jumper at the “uniform exchange event” my daughter’s school was holding, or maybe it was the party we hosted, with 40 guests, for a special someone’s 80th birthday. All while fielding e-mails from an editor whose demands were very particular. I was feeling the heat, from work and home. And the working-mom martyr complex was kicking in, big time.
I called up Kathleen Gerson, Ph.D., an NYU sociologist, seeking fuel for a post-Father’s Day rant about how husbands still aren’t pulling their weight around the home. But after talking to Dr. Gerson, I realized it’s not really true. In fact, I should probably shine the light on myself.
“So, Dr. Gerson,” I asked her, “how are we doing on dads and work around the house?”
“Certainly there has been a sea change in how we think about men and fathering,” she says. “Men have really transformed their views of what it means to be a good father. Men today overwhelmingly say that they want to be deeply involved in their children’s lives, they want to find a more integrated, rational balance between work and home, and they want to be good partners — supportive, flexible and egalitarian partners.”
“Yeah, and how’s that last part working out?” I asked her sarcastically.
According to Dr. Gerson, this is not just rhetoric: “Men really do feel differently and are struggling to act differently. But just like women, they continue to face enormous obstacles to doing so. We still have this notion of the ideal worker, someone who puts in enormously long hours at work. Men are still judged by the size of their paychecks. They feel under the enormous pressure to live up to that ideal.”
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