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.