On Father’s Day 2010 Tara Parker-Pope, the blogger who was running the New York Times Well blog at the time, published a short article entitled “Now, Dad feels as Stressed as Mom.” Drawing on some recent fatherhood research done at Boston College, Parker-Pope related how many new fathers were experiencing heightened levels of stress as they attempted to negotiate between the demands of the workplace and their own desires to be significantly involved in the lives of their children. These ‘nurturing’ dads, according to Parker-Pope, were taking on greater childcare responsibilities than did the ‘provider’ dads of the past. As a result, they were encountering many of the same issues commonly raised by working mothers – a desire for greater flexibility in their work hours, questions from co-workers and superiors about their commitment to their jobs, frustration with having to navigate the expectations of constant availability from both work and home. Parker-Pope called these experiences ‘strange and frightening territory’ for these dads. And she’s right, though the dads are not alone.
Our family sits squarely in the middle of this ‘strange and frightening territory.’ Ever since Ava and I decided that I would stay home with our newborn son while she continued to work, we keep encountering these instances of awkwardness and disorientation around who is supposed to being doing what in our domestic lives. It made us think that there is something interesting and unique about raising kids in this historical moment, something we’d like to capture and share while we can.
We chose to name the blog ‘Post-Industrial Parenthood’ because both Ava and I spent too many years doing graduate work in social science disciplines. Within our respective fields, the changes wrought by globalization on the landscape of American work and family life are often collected and analyzed under the label of ‘post-industrialism.’ This seemed a broad enough descriptor for what I wanted to include in the blog and when I put it in combination with the word ‘parenthood’ the rhythmic alliteration of this admittedly over-serious title was too good to pass up. My hope is that the stories that follow will simultaneously live up to and undermine that seriousness in ways that are interesting and entertaining regardless of whether you have kids or not.
So enjoy reading. Write comments. Share this with others. We’ll see where it all leads.