Redesigning Men to be 21st Century Dads

Gender roles are changing. Are guys ready?

Since the paradigm of men earning the living and women being homemakers and full-time moms is being turned on its ear, how do men adjust to the new normal?

Men may have to start considering paternity leave, which mate is better positioned to be the earner in the family, and how to mix up baby formula.

Yep, the days of thinking that a man’s job, parentally speaking, ends with conception are way over. We are firmly in the age of Daddy & Me classes. The 21st century dad must adapt and quickly. In order to survive, he must learn to develop the needed superhuman patience for never-ending loops of Yo Gabba Gabba DVDs and the inner strength to deal with the puddles of upchuck (or worse) that will be thrust his way.

The question must be answered, on a case-by-case basis for each couple, as to who it is that possesses the right disposition for this sort of ongoing mundane-yet-important routine of caring for the kids. Is it mommy or daddy? Certainly, the decision of which mate has the clearest career path trajectory will factor in, but knowing who can handle the daily task of child rearing must come into play as well.

If it is determined that the man will be a stay-at-home parent, they’ll need to assess if they’re prepared for:

  • People asking them what they do “all day long.”
  • Having absolutely no time to themselves and wondering where the day went.
  • Having to account for where the money was spent even though all they did was go food shopping, stop at Rite Aid and squeeze in lunch.
  • The realization that they are working nonstop, and with little or no thank yous on the other side.
  • Hoping that the little ones that they are sacrificing their careers for will appreciate it down the pike.
  • Feeling a sense of envy — and a bit of jealousy — toward the men who can actually afford to pay people to do this job.
  • Loving their children, but wishing they could get away and work full-time, just like their wives.

Couples need to be in tune with each other’s needs, both financially and psychologically, in order to ensure a smooth family dynamic. In households with a stay-at-home parent, both parties need to be on the same page as to how the mechanics of the family will run, and dialed into how the other’s ego is handling their assigned role. Not all men have evolved to the point where they can handle being a full-time caretaker. Although women have come a long way, it is certainly not a given that husbands, or their wives, are comfortable with role reversal, regardless of who the bigger earner is.