Between the recession and feminism, we have reached the inevitable moment when the stay-at-home dad becomes a real, quantifiable phenomenon. Journalist Jeremy Adam Smith just published the Daddy Shift tracing this “startling evolutionary advance in the American family,” and Lisa Belkin interviews him . Smith argues that our maternal lens causes us to miss the things dads do differently and well-encourage risk taking and independence, for example. I buy that argument. In general, moms could use a lesson from dads on how you can leave the house without individually wrapped snacks and still have a fine time. But there’s one problem with the daddy shift argument. The more dads find their own voices the more they sound just like … moms.
Neal Pollack started this lamentable trend with Alternadad and now there are dozens (and three new dad memoirs coming out this summer alone). Rice Daddies, DadLabs.com , and Mike Adamick’s blog Cry It Out are three Smith praises. In his view, dads just need to keep “telling their stories” to inspire other dads. I’m not so sure. I read these blogs and I’m not finding so much risk taking. Instead, once again, I’m lost in the minutae of epidurals and homework and yes, snacks.
Though I don’t share her worldview, I find myself recalling a snippet from Caitlin Flanagan’s story on wives who won’t have sex with their husbands .
The men who cave to the pressure to become more feminine-putting little notes in the lunch boxes, sweeping up after snack time, the whole bit-may delight their wives but they probably don’t improve their sex lives much, owing to the thorny old problem of la difference . I might be quietly thrilled if my husband decided to forgo his weekly tennis game so that he could alphabetize the spices and scrub the lazy Susan, but I would hardly consider it an erotic gesture.