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men who change diapers change the world

Tuesday, 20 March 2007
From oil wells to the frontlines of fatherhood - a guest post by Robert Johnson
Topic: Guest post
Gawker take note

(Note: With a seven month old and a four year old on his lap Robert Johnson of Wyoming sat down at his computer and wrote the first guest post on athomedad.  Originally submitted as a "rant" on the message board, he agreed to share his perspective on dads and masculinity.)

There are difficult days, and because it is always fun to create or add to stereotypes, most men can not handle being at home with the kids all day let alone weather the difficult days. I know because I worked in a number of male dominated environments and saw how lazy, mostly emotionally lazy, my compadres are. This distance runs the same gamut through the oil field labor hands to the career motivated professionals. Yeah, there are exceptions, but like I said, I am adding to and creating stereotypes here. 

 The brother-in-law the other day was lamenting how busy he is at the bank every day. I reminded him I worked in banks, was a specialist in department consolidation during the big bank mergers of the 90's, and knew how hard bankers worked most of the time. He forgot. He was using the "work" exhaustion to cover why he wasn't very patient with my nieces. We live in a small city where, like most places, the male is driven by their status in the community. Here it manifests itself in the young professionals in the board hunt. There are numerous boards and civic organizations all layered in a pseudo hierarchy that represents your importance to the community. The bonus is the members to got to make a difference, add to the community, make things better, contribute to society, do good work. 

 The down side is the younger "boys" have to build their chops. To do this they must multi-board so they can make the jumps to the higher status organizations. The multi-board makes them a stranger to their families because of the number of outside obligations connected to each board. They are living up to their maleness to compete and be a big dog while almost shunning their families. Then they parrot in interviews, "Yes, the most important thing to me is family and especially my kids." (the ones who run to the door to the see the familiar stranger before he runs off to another board meeting). I've witnessed male teachers, feeling the strain of proving their masculinity, coach all three school seasons, join less status boards, and join or start clubs focused on their personal interest. All proving that despite their dedication to the next generation, they can still be manly by avoiding their families. 

When I worked in the oil field, the focus was on embracing as many hours as possible because of the overtime pay-- the same pay most of them used up at the local strip club they used to avoid their families. The thing I noticed in all of these environments is how little the male wanted to work at connecting with either his wife or his kids. They all said the same thing, their wife and kids were the most important thing in the world--. The same guys who wouldn't think of cracking a parenting book, believe that authoritarian parenting is the best, actually brag about spanking, complain their wives are too indulgent, and want the home and nurturing work done so they can build their status and bank. An emotionally easier path because there is no investment of self, only an investment for self. If the societal push of real but minor sex differences is to cater to an illusion of self sacrifice and the myth of providing for the family then we can assume there will always be a high divorce rate, a trend in kids leaving their communities when they enter the workforce, and the continued breakdown of families. 

I am glad there are a lot of books to justify this "difference" because it must make some people feel better-- mostly men-- who are usually too emotionally lazy to build the real future (had to toss in some corn). Now I need to clean up a blow-out, fill a sippy-cup ,and reload the diaper bag so I can fill up the truck, get the oil changed, go to the library, and have the ski stuff ready so my wife and the oldest can go to their skiing lesson after school today. I love this job but... boy am I tired. 

(If you would like to guest post on athomedad drop me  a line)

  The Inside Poop

  • The KCDADS have been invited to voice their opinion on the a new Children's Museum during the planning stages. The 36,500 square-foot museum which will focus on literature is slated to open by the summer of 2009. Source: Al's KCDADS blog

  •  I've seen thousands of clients, and almost every time I've seen a stay-at-home dad seek alimony, the wife--she's usually a software executive--goes ballistic. - Carol Ann Wilson, a certified financial divorce practitioner speaking out on women and alimony. Source: Forbes Women Increasingly Paying Alimony


Posted by athomedad at 11:07 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007 8:29 PM EDT
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