Daddy Wars or Growing Pains?
Some of our favorite bloggers are duking it out about the term 'Daddy Wars'. And I kinda have to agree with all of them. I'll go one further and add my own ESP twist to their arguments.
The problem, I think, starts with the definition of the term. If Daddy Wars are to be likened to Mommy Wars, then they refer to fathers verbally attacking each other's work/life balance choices. Think SAHD lashing out at absent breadwinner dad, and working dad belittling SAHD. Or less involved dad being threatened by involved dad, as this article from the UK suggests. This dad-against-dad definition, most of us agree, is a sad one. We've all had enough of the trumped-up Mommy Wars to hope we can sidestep the same media hype for fathers (or worse yet, actual barb-throwing by real fathers).
But another Daddy Wars definition, as presented by Rebeldad and mentioned in the recent USA Today article on fathering, is a war between fathers who want more time to be with their kids and old-fashioned workplaces that scorn such desires. This definition is far more palatable and plausible, although it really doesn't belong to fathers only. It is parents (or any worker who wants a balanced life) against employers.
And don't forget about the internal 'wars' that are inevitable between fathers and mothers (or between clashing feelings within one individual), who have to reconcile their beliefs that men are primary breadwinners and women are primary parents with their desires for equality. This whole paradigm shift toward equal sharing on the work and family fronts is not going to be easy!
To me, the real issue is the growing pains that come from this paradigm shift - not as sexy as 'wars', but more descriptive. Men are growing, as a group, into the idea that there is more to life than their role of breadwinner. Women are growing, as a group, toward equal pay, equal jobs, equal work status, equal education (and in big cities, they are surpassing men on many of these markers). Employers are growing, as a group, toward embracing flexibility as a way to retain excellent employees. Men and women are growing, as a group, into people who are claiming their rights to balanced lives. And it's about having a good life, whether or not you have children.
I, for one, would like to skip the use of 'Daddy Wars' to signify either male infighting or men/workplace battles. But we do need a nice, catchy name to signify our collective growth toward balanced lives for all. Any ideas?