Changing the Rules

Anne-Marie Slaughter gave a speech at the Womens Entrepreneur Festival that I continue to think about.  She talked about how changing gender roles in our society (as in the United States) needs to start with men taking on certain roles.  She talked about the importance of a mens movement when it comes to raising kids.

There is an article in the Atlantic that spurred my thoughts back to Anne-Marie's speech.  It is called The Daddy Track, The Case for Paternity Leave.  There needs to be support for friendlier workplaces for both fathers and mothers.  More men need to take paternity leave just as often as women take maternity leave.  It happens in several countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland.  Thanks for these countries forward thinking there is a lot of data surrounding what happens when men take paternity leave.

Kind of not shocking but men become more involved with their children in the long run and that means changing diapers, reading them stories and rolling up their sleeves.  Working parents end up sharing many of the "chores".  LIfe becomes more equal and it narrows the gap between men and women.  The key to making this succeed is having men feel that there is no stimga around taking time off when a baby is born.  

Anne-Marie said that without her husband she could never do what she does.  He has taken on most of the responsibilites of the "home" parent.  She has learned not to micro-manage him and let him do it his way.  It is brilliant.  There is no doubt that after years of marriage and kids, I am talking about myself here, that we tend to fall into roles but those roles can evolve and change.  

Men have to feel that by staying at home they are not being a non-comformist but just like everyone else.  After the speech Anne-Marie gave I went home and spoke to Josh about it.  Josh is about to turn 18 and his generation will live longer.  When the majority of people are around for 100 years things change.  Everyone will be on a very long track vs a sprint.  Think of life as a marathon.  There will be highs, lows, peeks and perhaps several careers.  I asked Josh if he would take time off and perhaps get off the train for awhile to raise his kids.  He said he'd love to do that and why not.  If his generation did that it would be great.  I loved that.

Each person is different in regards to their desire to work and at what pace based on who they are, their competitive nature, their brain, their everything.  Men should begin to stay home when they have kids for a short period of time before going back to work like women have been granted aka paternity leave.  Who stays home or doesn't stay home after that is a personal decision.  It would be great if the childcare in this country was better but that is a whole other discussion.  Regardless, men who choose to be the caregivers and perhaps let their wives go back to work should get a standing ovation.  Those are the early adapters who are changing the rules and I for one applaud those men.

Comments (Archived):

  1. AG

    At my last job, my office neighbor took paternity leave, but instructed his secretary not to tell people that. She was just to say he was out…when I overheard her recounting this to another secretary, I was surprised and saddened. But maybe I shouldn’t be, especially because even I (the accepting, feminist) have had a hard time embracing the stay-at-home dad movement. some thing inside of me still craves the traditional protection of a man, even though I am staunchly against relying on it. Will this psychology ever change or is their something inherent in a woman’s desire to be cared for on some level?

    1. Gotham Gal

      you bring up good points but a desire to be cared for and protected does not have to be traditional. being cared for is always being respectful of splitting the demands of raising a family. if one of you takes the financial lead and that happens to be the women so be it. that is showing that your partner cares enough about your well being to let you do what makes you happy. not so sure having some man protecting me means that i am being cared for. if anything it means that i am not being looked at as an equal.

      1. AG

        Valid and important. Perhaps it is making this distinction that some women of my generation are still struggling with. We’re definitely getting closer, though.

        1. Gotham Gal

          I hope so. Based on the Tide commercials it appears so.If you haven’t seen it. Husband and wife sitting on the couch folding laundry with their kids running around discussing the mistake they made switching brands. Tide gives them better results. Its awesome

          1. AG

            Have not. Will check it out!

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    In light of this, did you all read the article in the NYT Magazine this weekend about egalitarian marriages and the resulting lack of sex?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I skimmed it. Seemed utterly depressing

  3. Scarlett Sieber

    My mother is from Sweden so I have seen firsthand how paternity leave affects the family. All of my cousins were raised with both parents taking an equal amount of responsibility for the daily baby duties like changing diapers etc. I truly believe that the added time and connection at early stages of development is invaluable and I wish the US would be more lenient with time off after child birth.