Time to retire the “Mr. Mom” references

Today's New York Times had an article on unemployed financial-industry men who are spending more time with their kids.  It's all too typical of the Times' coverage of parenting, in that the reporter seems to have noticed a pattern among her neighbors and decided that it was a trend.  Far more interesting than the article is that pretty much every comment posted on the article said:

  • It's called being a father.
  • Why is this worth invisible when done by women but newsworthy when done by men?

And seriously, it's time to retire the "Mr. Mom" references.  It's just lazy copyediting.

9 Responses to “Time to retire the “Mr. Mom” references”

  1. Madeleine Says:

    Definitely not typical families. I love the bit about the guy who has so much money in the bank that despite that fact that he’s out of work and his wife is a SAHM, they are still keeping the nanny. Just part-time, though. I guess the charitable way to look at that is that they didn’t want the nanny to be unemployed and suffering. (Or they don’t want to have lost her to another family when the dad gets a new job and disappears again.)

  2. RSB Says:

    Exactly !!! You really should send this to the TIMES ombundsman or whatever he is called.

  3. amy Says:

    Unfortunately, once you leave the land of chattering classes, it’s still real. I’ve learned not to get depressed anymore on hearing from yet another mother who’d like to go back to school or work but her husband won’t let her, because then who’ll take care of the kids? Total shockeroo for the first 3-4 years, though.

  4. Amy Says:

    This part made me feel like I was reading an article in The Onion:
    In Pelham Manor, unemployed fathers can now be seen at the elementary school and the grocery stores, or walking with children along the quiet streets, taking their places, by necessity, in the largely women’s world of childcare, housework and school life.

  5. Al Says:

    Women routinely take on most of the responsibility for childcare, housework and school life. This is true in my world and, judging by almost every report I’ve read on this topic, is the case in most communities across the nation. When the economic downturn causes men to start doing more of this “women’s work”, it becomes newsworthy.
    You can’t change reality by simply changing the narrative, although I’ve found the NYT attempts to do this in other stories.

  6. amy Says:

    I’m afraid I agree with Al. I find that one strange consequence of single motherhood and disappearance from the dinner-party scene is that I have very few male friends, because on the whole the men are not the ones involved in childcare, homecare, etc. Yes, I’m sure they do some, and I”m sure their wives would rush to their defense. But they’re not the ones picking up at 3, or making playdates, or comparing summer camps, asking about daycares, bringing their kids to synagogue, etc. On the whole it’s Moms Galore. The major exception is the single dads who’re involved in long-term contentious custody matters. (The others seem to send girlfriends.) The male friends I do have are from work and from pre-kid days. And I’m talking about a highly-educated demographic, where the mothers in general had careers and some (or lots of) graduate education. There are families here I’ve known for years where I know the mom and the kids well, and have never even met the dads. Wouldn’t know them if I saw them.

  7. liz Says:

    Thank you for calling them out on this. It drives me up the wall!

  8. jen Says:

    The New York Times itself, last year, noted that the US no longer puts up with unattentive fathers, in this piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29Birth-t.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all
    “Some commentators explain [the US’s] healthy birthrate in terms of the relatively conservative and religiously oriented nature of American society, which both encourages larger families. It’s also true that mores have evolved in the U.S. to the point where not only is it socially acceptable for fathers to be active participants in raising children, but it’s also often socially unacceptable for them to do otherwise.”
    I love that their commenters are calling them out on being lazy.

  9. dave.s. Says:

    The WSJ celebrates Mother’s day with this piece: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124174188644798953.html
    “…There’s only one problem with all these efforts to support mom in her new financial-provider role, and Ms. Hemmert presents a stark picture of it. However empowered the media, the think tanks and the White House tell her she should be, she is profoundly unhappy to have changed places with her spouse. “I don’t like coming home and seeing him in my apron,” Ms. Hemmert says while watching her husband make dinner. She reacts with outright revulsion to the phrase “Mr. Mom,” and her mouth hardens into a thin line when her husband explains that it isn’t necessarily a man’s job to earn a living for his family, that a man can also be “the person who handles children and sets up play dates…”
    Yikes! Every so often I get reminded of what a hot-house world I live in.

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