Father’s Day weekend is nigh and it’s time to think about what being a father is all about. On Sunday, I will be downing Busch Bavarians, chomping on brats and dogs from the gas grill, and recapping the Stanley Cup series with my son, who is now on his own as a sports writer.
Is my dad’s day ritual for this coming Sunday what being a father is all about? Not necessarily. I’m a bit old school, but I have profound respect for the “new males” and the “new dads” who are redefining what masculinity and fatherhood is all about in a new century.
With that in mind, I have gone out of my way in recent years to write about local men who are taking a different tack when it comes to fatherhood – and what it means to be a man. A big part of that newness is sharing, or taking on tasks, that used to be considered the province of the female in the household.
Among my ventures into doing interviews and writing about fatherhood in the 21st Century:
•A story about the St. Louis Dads group – on location with all their kids at area parks. “I don’t take well to being called, ‘Mr. Mom,’ or being asked if I am doing the baby-sitting today,” one father told me. “I have to explain that this is my job – I am a stay-at-home dad.”
•A story about Daddy Diaper Parties. “I like having a bunch of dads that can meet and talk about best ways for caring for kids,” said one father. “It’s helped me with my three-year-old, Jane, and one-year-old, Tommy. I like the idea of being a green dad, too, using cloth diapers – being environmentally friendly,”
•A story about a fathers’ group that has successfully advocated for having diaper-changing stations in men’s rooms and not just in the lady’s rooms. Local members of the National Coalition For Men deserve more recognition for a battle that now continues for expansion of men’s roles in the job of parenting.
Of course, not everybody is happy about these changes. It’s not macho, it’s not manly, it’s not traditional and it’s no way to make America great again.
The National Vanguard magazine has noted: “Northern males have continued to become more wimpish, the result of the media-created image of the “new male” – more pacifist, less authoritarian, more ‘sensitive,’ less competitive, more androgynous, less possessive ...
“The number of effeminate males has increased greatly ... legions of sissies and weaklings ... fearful males who while still heterosexual in theory and practice, have not even a vestige of the old macho spirit, so deprecated today.”
To National Vanguard readers, I say lighten up. America has room for all kinds of males — and people – that’s part of our beauty and our strength.
Of course, National Vanguard champions that special kind of male with five children from three wives and a macho mouth that can win a presidency. Okay, great, but realistically, how many of us men can be expected to live up to that?