Lisa Belkin turned over Motherlode today (and will again, periodically) to one of her most frequent — and critical commenters. He’s William McCloskey and his beef with Belkin and the parenting world at large is that single fathers get no respect. Or at least not much. And, in any case, writing about parenting is always for moms.
McCloskey has a point that most parenting writing is addresses mothers, sometimes specifically. Mom-Friendly Cooking! The 10 Kid Things Your Purse Needs! Stuff like that. But what’s also interesting is at the end of his column, he says he’d never buy a parenting book and most fathers wouldn’t either. Well, there’s the target audience problem in a nutshell right there!
But his bigger point is that he was a single dad and he doesn’t like how single fathers are portrayed and while I, a married mother, can’t say what it’s like to be a single parent or a single dad, his complaints feel dated. (Please, tell me if I’m wrong.) He says the stereo-types are all scorched macaroni, “Mr. Mom” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.” In fact, McCloskey’s son is 36, putting McCloskey in the Kramer vs. Kramer era and so for that I’d say he probably has it right.
But now, I have to wonder if single dads still get that. I’m sure they’re still a wee bit of a curiosity. But I don’t know anyone my age who thinks single fathers need more help than single mothers. Or that single fathers need my input on raising girls/wiping noses/knowing when to change the sheets.
In fact, Belkin titles today’s post “Single Dads are Different” but I don’t know that they’re THAT different. There are fewer of them, sure. But they’re still paying bills and getting creamed on childcare and accumulating too many calendars on their refrigerator doors and holding out for a little me-time at the end of the day having shouldered it all by themselves again and again.
But maybe I’m seeing this all wrong. Single dads? What do you think of what McCloskey is saying? Does he make a good case?