the state


-of dads by jgrimsrud
Thursday, 11 June 2009, 12:58
Filed under: -of jgrimsrud, -of kiddos, -of reads

so, this michael lewis has a new book about being a dad (to tabitha soren‘s kids–what a blast from the past!  hard to imagine the news media has actually gone downhill since the days of mtv “news”!) 

michael was on npr’s on point talk show.  now, i don’t plan on reading the book (“a self-indulgent waste of time” aptly commented one listener), but the radio piece riled me up a little.  michael laments a loss of clarity in our “new age” of coparenting, when dad’s just don’t quite know what they’re supposed to do, but he still (on the radio at least) trumpets his own parental activism & (learned) bond w/ his own kids.

i wanted badly to call in and go on & on about natural childbirth w/ a role for the mother’s partner, to preach attachment (cosleeping, involving kids in your own grown-up routines, generally being an affectionate guy…), to ask this guy about his own dad, about whether they needed to give birth in a hospital where he was “in the way,” etc., etc.

all of which is well & good by me, and i would love the chance to unload on a progenitor of modern dads’ lit (i think every by-dad-for-dad book i’ve seen is some version of a shoulder-thumping, guffawing romp, celebrating ignorance, incompetance, & weak stomachs–as in “i had no idea about__,” “i can’t operate baby clothes,” or “poop is gross”–if grown men wrote poop-joke chapters in books about caring for their invalid parents, & mused about why their wives “can’t just take care of it?”, would they win a publishing monopoly on a corner of the bookstore?).  but really, the response i’d actually like to make to other dudes in such discussions would be, “read more dan savage.” 

the kid is dan’s story of his husband terry & his adoption of their son.  in a “new” age of coparenting, etc., the kid is a family values classic.  may the old must-dos of traditional parenting shrivel & pass on!

there is no such thing as a single, correct standard model for a functional, loving family.  maybe the flexibility & subjectivity of “new” parenting is a little harder, as michael lewis says, on the face of it.  but, as he also says, the work of caring for someone has a funny way of making you love them, making you feel accomplished & fulfilled.  maybe having a family is hard, and hard is good (dan has done a bit of writing on that too).

anyway, to the dudes, read more dan, and to the publishers, for god’s sake, print something by a guy that doesn’t use the same tired jokes.  yes, poop is gross.  so is puking after a kegger.  dudes can handle it.

(a few models from parentally-minded authors of another gender persuasion:

the east village inky

the east village inky

bee lavender @ hip mama zine

ariel gore & bee lavender @ hip mama zine

the sisters @ brain, child magazine

and, thankfully, the homeboy of stay-at-home-dad’s everywhere,

greg allen

greg allen

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Not even Dan Savage could do a better job on Michael Lewis than you just did with this post, Johan.

Comment by Kathleen Temple

thank you!
for all the talk of “new” american parenting, this lit genre (especially the dude-authored percentage) is surprisingly conservative.
i remember wishing and trying to come up w/ something at the bookstore to compete w/ the sack-fulls of page-turners my wife would lug home regularly during her pregnancy.

so, anyone else have good parentally-related lit suggestions?

Comment by vastate




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