Tag Archives: fatherhood

What Interests Moms vs Dads

So I was invited by a friend to sign up for the Flipboard magazine “Interesting Stuff” which I appreciate because it does look interesting. As part of the sign up process you’re asked to pick areas of interest so I was scrolling through the page, clicking away on topics that interested me, when I got to the category of “Kids.” Under that category four topics were listed – Pregnancy, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Parenting Teens – and when I clicked on Fatherhood this is what appeared:

Flipboard_Fatherhood

So clicking on Fatherhood added four suggested categories that included Child Support, Child Custody, Family Law and Child Psychology. As a bonus the Child Support category is accompanied by what looks like a mugshot of a man and the Child Custody category is augmented by the picture of a dead cat with blood running from what looks like its head, although the head is thankfully covered by a black box. So apparently people interested in fatherhood as a topic are assumed to be seriously effed up.

Here’s what was served up when I clicked on Motherhood:

Flipboard_Motherhood

The suggested topics are Birth Control Pill, Surrogate Mother, Stillbirth and Pregnancy Test. Doesn’t appear as bad as the Fatherhood topics, but taken in total the whole parenting thing seems kind of depressing doesn’t it?

Ain’t They Cute?

Let's be blunt: those of us who have survived certain stages in life find it hard not to be condescending to those who have yet to do so. Part of it is simply a function of age, but a much larger part of it is experience. A perfect case in point is children, or more specifically, having children and getting them to the point of launching them into the world.

When our kids were very young I used to HATE the condescending "You just wait" comments from parents of older children. Now that I'm on the other side I totally get where they were coming from although I try not to be condescending in the same way to my friends/coworkers/family members with younger children. I'm not always successful, but I do try.

What prompted this is a piece in Vogue written by a man who was considering the implications of the development of a male version of The Pill. Here's an excerpt:

Later at dinner, she brought it up again. The initial flush of panic had cleared. The idea wasn’t threatening, just amusing. She suggested that putting the male in charge of contraception would just embolden him to have sex with random women, and riskier sex at that; unlike a condom, the pill would do nothing to prevent disease. Could be, I said, but I was lost in thought. Not about that. I was thinking about the strange spot we’re in. We’ve been married a little over a year. She’s 28, and I’m 31. I run a small soccer magazine and she’s a grade-school teacher. We’re paying off her loans from grad school. In other words, this phase of our life together will end when we have a baby—it’s what we’re working up to, the fact that underlies every move we make, what jobs we take, what city we live in, what house we rent. I mean, she recently ordered prenatal vitamins because her sister-in-law said it’s healthy to start a regimen at least a year in advance. That was a surprising trip to the mailbox!

The goal, eventually, is to have a baby, and yet having a baby before we’re ready seems like it would totally derail the plans we’ve laid to achieve the goal. That’s pretty weird. Other thoughts crept in. Hey! Yo, dude! Have you packed for your trip on Thursday? What day is today, anyway?

“Excuse me, darling,” I said. “What day is it?”

She gave me a look. You’ve seen one just like it. Her eyebrows posed the question before she did: “And you want to be in charge of the birth control?”

When I finished the article my reaction was bemusement. Why? Because I wanted to find this guy's number call him up and tell him, "You'll never be 'ready' for kids. It's an impossibility in the same way that you'll never be 'ready' for a tornado. You can prepare – drawing your little life maps and to-do lists – but when the reality of Hurricane Kid reaches your shores you'll be laid bare like every other parent before you."

Yes he and his wife should do everything they can to try and put off the inevitable until they think they're ready, but my advice is for them to not sweat too much about it because no matter how hard they try they'll never be truly ready. 

Oh, and that part about who's best to take control of contraception? Sometimes it doesn't matter because you could defy the odds like yours truly and his significant other and conceive children on two different occassions while she's on the pill. 99% efficacy is great unless you're not in it; believe me that's not the 1% you want to be in.

As a middle-aged dad entering the territory of overtime (kids in college, destined to move back for a while) I merely want to say, "You're so cute with your little worries? You ain't seen nothing yet."

Damnit, it's just impossible not to be a condescening ass in these situations.

Does the World Need a Dadzine?

Ever noticed the seemingly endless – and often mind-numbing – number of magazines dedicated to mothers? Well, there's a new entry into the relatively unexplored "dad-zine" field:

Kindling Quarterly is an exploration of fatherhood. Through essays, interviews, editorials, art, and photography we highlight creatie individuals whose work and lives are inseparable from their role as a parent. There is no shortage of familiar portrayals of dads in media yet we aim to present a thoughtful dialogue about fatherhood that is missing from our cultural landscape. Men who are active caregivers are not a novelty and we do not depict them as such. While the subjects of our stories are fathers, each issue appeals to anyone interested in art, creativity, and community. Kindling Quarterly playfully assesses and celebrates a multitude of experiences that form contemporary fatherhood.

It's a mistake to judge a magazine by its cover before you even see the cover, but this sounds like it will appeal to roughly .5% of the fathers in America. Another mistake is to engage in gross generalizations, but what's life if nothing but a series of mistakes interrupted by occassional success? So here are some general descriptions of dads that would argue against the vast majority having any interest in a magazine focused on "art, creativity and community":

  • Approximately 99% of dads don't read anything they aren't paid to read. In other words most of them feel that reading is something only a fool would do outside of work requirements.
  • There's a reason those portrayals of dads in the media are so familiar – they're largely accurate and approximately 99% of dads will gladly own up to that fact.
  • If "art" does not include scantily clad women of some variety then 99% of dads would agree it's not really art. (Anyone familiar with what happens to men when their personal lives are assaulted by fatherhood would surely understand this phenomenon).
  • Most dads love their kids, but the last thing they want to do is think about what it means to be a dad. Their wives (or baby-mamas) force them to engage in those "meaning of fatherhood and marriage" discussions ad nauseum so why would they spend their precious free time reading about it?

Hopefully the folks at Kindling will find enough dads who don't fit the mold described above to make their venture a success, but based on the description above there's reason to be concerned for its viability. It appears they're aiming for an elite crowd, which of course precludes this dad from being a suitable target, so perhaps these points are moot. Hopefully so and here's hoping that the folks at Kindling enjoy great success.