Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
In honor of Father’s Day on Sunday, book publishers released a slew of great books written by dads. This week, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorites. Like Glad to be Dad: A Call to Fatherhood by Tim J. Meyers. He’s spent years in the trenches raising two sons and a daughter. A longtime, successful writer, he is the primary caretaker while his wife works outside of the home. He’s full of hard-won wisdom–on everything from cleaning products to kids’ snacks–and conveys practical advice in his characteristically warm and witty style. At the heart of Myers’ book, he advocates for father involvement. When dads play central roles in child-rearing, the wives and children are happier and less stressed. When I read Glad to be Dad, I thought of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. She writes about the importance of choosing a helpful partner–someone just like Myers.
Find out more about fatherhood from Myers himself. Below, he answers questions that range from household chores to Father’s Day presents. (Hint: Get this man some peanut butter cups ASAP.)
KK: Why is it so important for dads to be involved in childcare and house chores?
TM: I think family is one of the most beautiful realities in the world, but to reach its full potential, family members have to work together. Right now, though many men are superb husbands and fathers, a lot of women are doing more than their share. Which is not only unfair, but works against that life-giving unity of the family. Children also benefit profoundly from the loving attention of their fathers–of course. And the kicker is that men grow happier and wiser too!
KK: If a dad works a lot, and he doesn’t watch the kids often, what are three ways to entice him to help more?
TM: To me it’s not a matter of “enticing,” but of growing in our understanding. One way to do that is to recognize that most men face their own pressures, especially at work. Men shouldn’t get a pass on domestic commitment because of this, but we all should respect the hard work they do (and the worry that sometimes goes with it). A second way is for husband and wife to keep talking about these issues. This is especially crucial because a lot of men don’t have good models of committed fatherhood, so it’s all new to them. Third, I think families in general should value themselves more, celebrate themselves more, which will lead everyone to appreciate being with each other. The beautiful thing is to gradually make that potential a reality!
KK: What are some household chores that males might be more likely to do?
TM: I can’t speak for all men, of course, but I don’t think it’s wise to even think this way. My wife and I agreed years ago that we would value all work that goes into the family, whether it brings in money or not, whether it’s lowly or repetitive, whatever. All the work counts–picking up far-flung socks or cleaning a toilet are as worthy as bringing home a paycheck or helping kids with homework. So everyone does everything. (Though I must admit that, out of my own ignorance, I was banned from helping our kids with math).
KK: Some husbands are very involved in the daily domestic routine. What are some nice things their wives can do to tell them thank you?
TM: Let’s see…”You are one studly love-muffin, baby!” I’m always happy to hear things along those lines. And though I’m joking, I’m partly serious too, since a guy can sometimes feel less masculine under domestic circumstances. I don’t think a man should feel that way; I can’t think of anything more masculine, for example, than a full-grown man bending to a child. But there’s a tendency to associate homelife with femininity, and I know some guys won’t mind being reminded–in whatever ways–that they’re still 100 percent male.
KK: What is/was your favorite stay-at-home dad responsibility?
TM: Being able to share the astonishing miracle of life with my children hour by hour, day by day–and giving my heart to complete partnership with the woman I love.
KK: What do you want for Father’s Day?
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TM: Buy me a power tool, and I’ll send it on to Tim Allen. But I wouldn’t mind a gift card to buy music–I’ve been eyeballing some Ben Folds CDs lately. And my family knows my desperate weakness for that quintessence of edibles, glory of all deliciousness, the peanut-butter cup. A bunch of those. A whole bunch. So yep, I’m pretty easy to please.
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Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Q&A With Authors
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
The pads of my fingertips are wearing off this week. I reply to every single Sheryl Sandberg hater on my Facebook feed and ask them one simple question: Have you read her book? Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is fantastic, and I’ll tell you why.
The criticism baffles me. Apparently, she’s too rich to offer advice on being successful. She has household help, so she couldn’t possibly inspire our gender. She went to Harvard, so she can’t know how to help a state school grad (forget about a high school drop out). See where I’m going? This is nonsense. Do we read advice from Warren Buffet on money and finance? Do we devour books by Dr. Phil McGraw? Does it matter if these men have personal assistants and fancy houses? What about the bestselling diet book Shred by Dr. Ian Smith? He went to Harvard; he’s famous and well-off. I do not hear moaning and groaning about the above men’s qualifications to advise us.
I hereby declare the Sheryl Sandberg debate bull hockey.
Here are three reasons why people–mostly women, BTW–are ripping Sheryl Sandberg apart. First, hating on a working woman is, sadly, a popular thing to do. Second, attacking a book and creating a controversy generates web traffic for bloggers. Third, women love to hate on women and it has to stop. Just one example: I recently wrote a blog post about my extreme morning sickness in regards to Kate Middleton. I suffered through my ordeal–really suffered–and I got hate comments. A few days later, my husband wrote the exact same story about my morning sickness, and he received warm, encouraging words. WOMEN: WHAT ARE WE DOING TO EACH OTHER?
All I ask, in the case of Sheryl Sandberg, is that people read the damn book before they post diatribes like this one: “I may need to take a moment to reflect on all of the hoopla surrounding Sheryl Sandberg’s not so innovative ideas. What is so impressive about an Ivy grad getting an Ivy grad position at a top company? NOTHING.” I respectfully disagree. A woman from any background in a powerful top position glows impressively.
Sheryl should proudly step up and take her rightful place as role model. I haven’t been this excited about a feminist book since I read Susan Faludi’s Backlash in college. Why Sheryl? She’s awesome, flawed, inspiring and brilliant. Here are the top 10 things I love in the book Lean In:
1. I relate to her. I haven’t worked at a full-time job since 1999, and I’m currently in yoga teacher training. But I still like her and would love if she’d be my friend. She embodies hard work and drive–but with flaws and vulnerabilities that are just like mine. For example, we both entered doomed marriages when we were 23. Learning from our mistakes, we chose more compatible partners the second time.
2. She offers plenty of a-ha moments. “Ask a man to explain his success and he will typically credit his own innate qualities and skills. …A woman… will attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did well because she ‘worked really hard or ‘got lucky’ or ‘had help from others.’”
3. Mentors don’t matter that much. Women have a hard time finding mentors in managerial positions because of the lack of women. That shouldn’t stop us from forging relationships with people–at or above our positions–for help. Mentorship is reciprocal questioning and answering, and everyone will be invested in and learn from that. (What a huge relief.)
4. Despite what you might have read, she encourages all of the choices women make. “There are many powerful reasons to exit the workforce. Being a stay-at-home parent is a wonderful, and often necessary, choice for many people. Not every parent needs, wants or should be expected to work outside the home. In addition, we do not control all of the factors that influence us, including the health of our children. Plus, many people welcome the opportunity to get out of the rat race. No one should pass judgment on these highly personal decisions. I fully support any man or woman who dedicates his or her life to raising the next generation. It is important and demanding and joyful work.”
5. The advice is unparalleled. I entered the workforce at age 21 without even wanting kids but planning for them anyway. I aimed to be a freelancer before I even started–limiting my salary options dramatically. Here’s what Sheryl has to say about that: “Anyone lucky enough to have options should keep them open. Don’t enter the workforce already looking for the exit. Don’t put on the brakes. Accelerate. Keep a foot on the gas pedal until a decision must be made. That’s the only way to ensure that when the day comes, there will be a real decision to make.” Where could I be–where could I go now–if I didn’t see childrearing as a career-halt?
6. Let your partner help you. “Whenever a married woman asks me for advice on coparenting with a husband, I tell her to let him put the diaper on the baby any way he wants to as long as he’s doing it himself. And if he gets up to deal with the diaper before being asked, she should smile even if he puts that diaper on the baby’s head. Over time, if he does things his way, he’ll find the correct end. But if he’s forced to do things her way, pretty soon she’ll be doing them herself.”
7. Equality around the household equals a better sex life. “Couples who share domestic responsibilities have more sex.” She cites a study. I have anecdotal evidence to support this assertion.
8. Women can’t do it all. She dropped her daughter off at preschool and then had to take a flight to the East Coast to give a TEDTalk. Her little girl was upset that Sheryl wouldn’t be home for bedtime, and it tore them both apart. Sheryl added it to her speech because other women were going through the same thing. “Women and men [need to] drop the guilt trip, even as the minutes tick away, The secret is there is no secret–just do… the best you can with what you’ve got.”
9. Little girls aren’t bossy. We should call them “future leaders” instead.
10. Women, start leaning in to other women. “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves.”
What have you read about this book? If you had a negative reaction, was I able to get you to reconsider your position?
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