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This Weeks Topic Parenting Roles
Have times really changed?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You may have heard or hypothesized that women grow up just slightly faster than men do. You may have hazarded such a conjecture because women tend to discuss intimate body parts, and the maintenance thereof, more bluntly than men do. This is because women learn to take a clinical view of their reproductive systems in their early teens, while some men reach their early 30s unable to say "vagina" without tittering. Some can't even say "tittering" without tittering.

For me, becoming a father thrust me into a whole new lexicon of "perineums" and "placentas," and the sex talk became less juvenile when I saw what my wife's body can do. I guess that's why unmarried guys have no trouble bragging about sexual conquests while married fathers, once they discover the intimacy of childbirth, learn to shut the hell up.

Sadly, OhBaby's Opinionated Parenting is also about to shut the hell up, as this is the blog's final post. (I know what you're thinking ... another painful death on the Ides of March.) MIC and I had a great time volleying the parental shuttlecock over the past six months, and I know I learned a lot about how passionate and disparate people can be when it comes to caring for little baby humans.

You'll still be able to read us here and here, as well as at Blogfathers and wherever else someone will have us. You can also follow the Family-in-Chief's diary while TIC undergoes heart surgery; I'm sure they'd be grateful for your support.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck. We'll all need it.

Permalink | Sex Talk , | Valedictory | Comments (28)

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm always up for a little public chat about vaginas and sex. It's an entertaining past-time for me, my girlfriends, and acquaintances I bump into at the cafe. Women are open to this kind of talk because every time we go to a doctor's appointment, we are naked and get probed with metal objects. Plus, delivering a baby exposes very private parts and bodily functions to strangers. Our bodies, their functions and mysteries are no biggie--we share, commiserate, giggle, learn. But men on the other hand...When I told Father in Chief that I talked about post-baby sex with his colleague's wife, he cringed. He imagines I've divulged the secrets of our sex life, describing routines, positions, and techniques in vivid detail. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

When it comes to Toddler in Chief, I'd like him to have a healthy understanding of sex and his body. I hope my ease of talking with friends flows into a healthy and open conversation with TIC. For now, we use real words, like penis and testicles. And when I get out of the shower and he says, "What are those?" I explain that they are breasts, they make milk, and that his baby brother will get milk from them when he is born, just like he did when he was a baby. When questions come up, I'll do my best to answer him honestly. I want to respect any and all questions he has. Being open and honest now will hopefully translate into open and honest dialog later that goes both ways.

Permalink | Sex Talk | Comments (1)

After sex one night, my wife asked me, "Do you ever think about what we'd say if OneBert ever walked in on us?" A bunch of smart-alecky things bounced to mind (such as: "I was checking your mom's oil, and she's down a quart"), but the truth is I'm not sure.

We're not pursuing anything proactively, but when OneBert asks about stuff we answer truthfully. He knows he has a penis and testicles, and he knows girls have "vulvas." He also knows he came to be  when my "seed" mixed with Mama's "egg." And that's about all we've had to navigate so far. I'm not sure what we'll say when he asks anything more probing (snort), because a lot depends on how old he  is when he asks. Whatever we say, though, it will be as forthright as possible.

If you stonewall your kids, they learn not to be curious. If you misinform them, they'll eventually find  you out and learn not to trust you. If you're matter-of-fact about the whole business, and can explain it as emotionlessly as you would how to change a washer, then the kid might not think much else of it for a while.

Besides, who wouldn't want to be around the holiday table, surrounded by extended family, right when your 3-year-old decides to discuss vulvas? It's a lovely memory the grandparents can bring up every Christmas for the rest of their lives.

Permalink | Sex Talk | Comments (3)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ah, LOD, you've assumed that all the evening duties are child-related, and that is an error. Who do you think is doing the cooking, the table-setting, and the after-dinner clean-up while Daddy plays trains, changes a diaper or two, and reads his cycling magazine while Toddler in Chief splashes around in the bath? My down-time is a break from child-rearing, not a break from domestic duties, or a sit-on-the-couch-eating-bon-bons break. Big difference. We are both still working until TIC is in bed.

And yes, this kind of teamwork is expected. We've both been working all day. And even though a drive to and from work isn't always a joy, it's alone time. And sure, running out of the office to grab lunch isn't always a leisurely jaunt or a relaxing respite from office politics, but it is a solo jaunt down the street, none the less. And it comes complete with a few whiffs of fresh air, without a stroller, a crying child, or a running nose in sight--or at least one that he's responsible for wiping (unless it's his own).

And yes, Father in Chief deserves some downtime to sit back and watch The Daily Show as much as the next hard-working-stiff. But his much-deserved downtime comes when we are both able to sit back with our feet up on the coffee table and enjoy the one-liners together. 

Permalink | Have Times Changed? | Comments (0)

MIC is right; I do feel lucky to have been so involved in my children's births, being a bigger part of their arrival has made me a bigger part of their lives. I'm lucky to have been home after I was laid off, because the shared experience of parenting helped me reassess my motivations and strengthen my marriage. I'm lucky I have a job that offers me a lot of time at home so that one boy can treat me like a trampoline while the other ties my shoes to the furniture. Good times.

The truth is now is a great time to be a father. Not only is the idea of a dad staying home with the kids much more accepted, but those who do have far more resources and networking at their disposal. Parenting can be a lonely business for anyone (especially when the kids are too small to go off on their own but too big to be moved without spectacular effort), but blogs have changed that.

Rebel Dad keeps a gimlet eye trained on perceptions of dads in the media, and his blogroll is full of SAHDs and GTWDs who defy the obnoxious TV stereotype that we're all a much of clueless lunkheads. The world is full of men who are just as committed and curious about parenting, and you ladies should do your part and marry only us. That way, the lunkheads who are unable to procreate will die off, taking the stereotype with them.

Permalink | Have Times Changed? | Comments (5)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The evolution of fatherhood is a topic that I've discussed frequently with the women in my mothers' group. Is it the men who have evolved, the women who have evolved, or is it is a combination of the two? I tend to think that it's a combination. As much as fathers now want to be active participants in their kids' lives, I don't know many women who would be married to men who wouldn't be pulling their parental weight. Our expectations are higher than our mothers' generation and the women couple decades ago. We expect our partners to be involved and not hand-in-the-pants, couch-denting, channel-surfing Al Bundys.

I can't help but wonder if the scenario that LOD described--dads waiting and pacing away from their wives, while those laboring women performed their secret birth rituals--put up a barrier between some men and their children. Because that process was separate from men, did the result separate the roles of the parents? But times have changed, and hospitals allow and encourage dads to be a part of the birth process. Women physically become parents as they push babies from their bodies. For men, the process takes time, patience, and effort. I can only imagine that being a physical presence during that intimate birth experience creates a bond between father and child, while strengthening the one between husband and wife.

Permalink | Have Times Changed? | Comments (1)