Modern Father Says He Got a Tougher Deal Than His Father

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modern father, rough deal

Photo from NPR

Have modern dads gotten a tougher parenting deal than their fathers had?

Great interview with father and author Michael Lewis (husband to former MTV host Tabitha Soren) who answers this question with a resounding "Yes!" and talks about his new book Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood.

Michael Lewis believes, indeed, he got a tougher deal than his father in the parenting department. He recalls his own father watching him change diapers and get his babies dressed and saying, "What are you doing? I didn't talk to you until you were 21."

In this NPR interview, Lewis is blunt about fatherhood. He says his wife "got a deal that his mother would kill for." Don't get mad at him though. He's being honest. Today's dads are taking on more of the parental drudgery (more, but still not most). He says "Most men, when the 'thing' arrives (and it feels like a thing to a lot of men), the big problem is a lack of natural emotional attachment. This emotion you're supposed to be feeling out of the gate is something you have to acquire. You have to learn it."

The part of Lewis's interview that I have a problem with is that I completely related to a lot of what Lewis explained as a "father experience." I think some of these feelings he describes are those of most first-time parents. While I did feel emotionally bonded "out of the gate," I know many many new mothers do not.

When Lewis explains, "No one prepares us for how it sucks," I nodded furiously. When he says, "You start with sleep deprivation, which, of course, is a common torture technique," I laughed, but only because those consistent nights of sleeplessness are behind me. Those nights when you feel crazed in the tired, so crazed that you cry and want to kill your husband who is only losing sleep. He is not also dealing with the physical repercussions of squeezing a baby out. He is not surging with irrational-thinking hormones. He is not trying to make a screaming baby latch onto his red and painful breast. 

Of course, I don't think Lewis intends to argue that new fatherhood is harder than new motherhood (based only on the interview), and I can definitely appreciate that new parenthood is different for fathers. I did enjoy his honesty about the feelings of parental ineptitude, and I think they're quite interesting juxtaposed with my own feeling of ineptitude as a mom, feelings I believe I still have to push past most days in order to sustain my sanity and the bond with my children.

I find it most interesting to consider the difference between the fathering that Lewis is doing to the parenting that the fathers just 10 and 20 or more years ago were (or weren't) doing. In my opinion, this evolution is a great thing for our children and, maybe even more so, for their mothers. However, I look forward to hearing more from modern dads on this one.

Would your husband/partner say he got a tougher parenting deal than his father? Do you think the "tougher deal" is a better deal in terms of parent-to-child and parent-to-parent relationships?

Read an excerpt from Home Game on NPR. Read Michael Lewis's Dad Again essay series on Slate.

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Azure Azure

Poor little BABY!  Heaven forbid he should actually have to help care for the children he helped bring into the world. What does he want? Props for taking care of the children he created? He'll get none from me!


My husband helped out with our children from day one, and he's never once complained or whined that his daddy had it easier.

Charl... Charlies_mommy

Nope my Dh's dad did more cause he had to. He was the one who did most of the raising of the kids. I do everything with our two. Our daughter is 6 months old and I think he has only changed one diaper. With our son he changes him sometimes, but when he was a baby I had to force him to change a diaper or make a bottle. Grrr.

RanaA... RanaAurora

It didn't sound to me like he was whining or complaining, but actually talking about changes in expected roles.
And yes, my husband is expected to do a lot more than my dad did.  My dad was practically never home because of his work schedule, and never really understood kids.  He was only interested in interacting with us when he decided it was "kid time."  He didn't deal with the inconveniences.

lalasha lalasha

I think it is great that my husband is hands on I know he is never going to have it as hard as I do but I am a sahm I picked hard I love hard and we need him to work so it doesn't get harder

risas... risas11722

I think my husband wouldn't say tougher.  I think that back then it wasn't considered the husband's role to change diapers and get up in the middle of the night ect.  I think now a days because women see themselves differently than 20 or 30 years ago we now expect our husbands to help out more.  Especially when we are both working.  I am thankful that my husband helps as much as he does and he does so with enthusiasm.

divin... divinenight

My father helped out my mom a lot, as often as he could. He was military and deployed often. I know I was a very colicy, high-needs baby and I don't know how my mother did it without him around. She's one tough cookie.


As for my boyfriend, he really doesn't have much to do with our son. I mean, he loves him to death but I do most everything. The only time he really "cares" for Stetson is when I'm working and he's not, so we don't waste money on a babysitter. But even then, he'll change the baby's diaper, and plop him in the swing instead of "bonding" with his son....Honestly, I think my boyfriend has it easier then my dad does, because I just naturally take up the responsibility of caring for my son, and juggling a job. It's hard, but I manage.

kaufm... kaufmt0220

my husband definitely feels it is his equal duty to care for our children. however i am the one who is home more and therefore does more for them. my husband said he feels bad that he can't do more while i am nursing in the night. he will get out of bed and get me something to drink or a snack a lot of times. he is trying and he is doing a lot...and working full time.

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