Mobile Toggle
btn-shop-fathersourcehomepage-btnbrn-free-resources
rsstwfbenews

The Father Factor

subpage-image

Are Dads Still Second-Class Parents?

I just read on the New York Times' parenting blog, Motherlode (we will discuss this title later...), that the U.S. Census Bureau considers the time that fathers spend at home caring for children while mom works "child care," but does not do the same for the time when mom is home with the kids and dad works. This is because the Census Bureau considers moms the "designated parent." So mom's time caring for kids while dad is away is "parenting" and dad's time is... something else.

The Times does not agree with this assessment. Nor do we. But should we really be surprised?

I mentioned we would discuss the title of the New York Times' own parenting blog. It is called Motherlode. Isn't that an assumption, in and of itself, that mothers are to be considered the primary parent? The tagline of Parenting magazine was, until very recently, "What Matters to Moms." Parenting books are written for moms. The tagline of the book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is, "This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs." This was a married mother with the father living in the same home, but he is apparently a lower life form than the two dogs. Most brands in their advertising pretend that dad does not make any family purchasing decisions (although a few notable exceptions, like Tide and Nissan are cropping up). The list goes on.

In other words, our culture surrounds us with messages - some intentional, some not - that moms are still the more important parent. So, we should not be terribly surprised by how the Census Bureau views this issue. After all, the government typically reflects cultural values and is not usually on the cutting edge of changing them.

But back to what the Census reporting is doing... Motherlode aptly points out that mothers are just as much a victim of this mentality. As their post says, mothers are "on the hook every time" when it comes to taking care of kids. In that sense, moms are the victims of their own success - they fought to achieve the status of being able to raise families in any situation, but now there is an expectation that they always will, and dad is off the hook.

This is not empowering to dads, moms, and, most importantly, to children who deserve to have both moms and dads responsibly and equally involved in their lives.

"Tiger Mom" and "Panda Dad"

A few months ago, I blogged about the "Tiger Mother" phenomenon and the lack of discussion about dads in all of the hullabaloo.

Where are the "Tiger Fathers"?

Many of you have probably heard about (or participated in!) the firestorm around the new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It is a memoir by author Amy Chua of what she calls the "Chinese way" she is raising her two, now teenage, daughters. Chua came to national attention when The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from the book earlier this month called "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior." I can't imagine why that title would spark controversy...

Either way, I just read the Time magazine cover story about her book here, and something interesting emerged. You would think that Chua's own mother inspired her Chinese mothering. But all of the examples she cites of how she learned to parent the "Chinese way" come from her father. She remembers her father as her inspiration. Yet, it does not seem that she is suggesting that today's fathers (or her own husband) have anything to do with the parenting approach she has adopted. It seems she has assumed that it is the mother's role to engage in "Chinese parenting."

I wonder why.

Maybe it is because real life Chinese fathers are not expected to be involved in the day-to-day care of their children? Maybe she also assumes that American fathers are even less likely than American mothers to adopt her approach? I would like to do more research to see what she thinks the father's role should be -- her own husband, a non-Chinese American, was the softer parent in their household.

Would she say that there is a fatherhood equivalent to the Chinese mother? She did not expect her husband to be that way even though her father was that way.

As I read the Time article, it did not answer my questions about Chinese mothering. It raised new questions about what Chua would have today's American fathers do.

Are you a "Chinese father"? What do you think of Chua's parenting techniques?

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

Search Our Blog

Topics