This morning I had a very interesting conversation with one of my sons and he granted me the above mentioned ‘permission to speak’ about our discussion.
We spoke about a perception we share that men – fathers – do not feel they have permission to speak about their own emotional life . . . wheels within wheels!
He said that one challenge faced by young and not-so-young couples today (setting aside the economic situation which is bad for some and terrible for many) is how to reconcile family roles with work roles.
He said that the women’s movement has given young women of today the expectation that they can and should have a professional life outside the family. Of course I lived through that period and both benefited and suffered from it, in different ways. What’s done is done.
Now, perhaps, we need a men’s movement that will support the shift in men’s roles in the family, similar to the shifts that occurred in women’s roles in the workplace. The key piece in this puzzle, and so far it is missing, seems to be support and acceptance in male culture for this change. Basically, he said, the dynamic in women’s family and work lives has changed but the dynamic in men’s lives has not kept pace.
Some of this work men themselves have to do, of course, but women, their mothers and wives, need to get out of the way and give their sons and husbands time and space to create new roles for themselves within the family. When both men and women do this, men will be able to be more present, both physically and emotionally, in their children’s lives, day to day.
I am very excited to be on my way, next week to London for a conference ‘Fathers Matter!’ co-sponsored by two organizations: the International Federation for Parenting Education and Working with Men. I will certainly report back to you here!