And why not? Why can't a nurturing father share parenting or be equally allowed to parent his child? Before you come down on one side of the issue, give the following letter room to make a dent in your preconception of male parenting. Ready? Deep breath, generous exhale.
DEAR SUSAN: I'm not quite sure when I got this vision that I wanted to be the main nurturing parent of my children. Certainly it has seeds in my attraction to intelligent, progressive women who turned me on to feminism (rather reluctantly at times, I admit). The first actual step in that direction was when I found myself gravitating toward a career that included being sole breadwinner for a wife and child when the one I really wanted wouldn't allow me to be as good a provider. Being a good provider was one of my father's main responsibilities, and I was following in his footsteps, but I decided to follow the less profitable path. My reasoning? If women could choose anti-traditional roles, so could I! And I went for a less profitable path, choosing as compensation sharing the responsibility and joys of child rearing with a working wife.
As that fork in the road grew more distant, I became more nurturing. As I drifted away from traditional male personality traits, my interest in raising a child deepened. While I admire divorced and widowed men who've taken sole responsibility of child raising, I don't think I could manage that. But I definitely don't want to miss the wonderful experience of that special relationship between a child and the primary nurturing parent. Any future wife of mine is going to have to fight to get at most an even responsibility for raising our child! Perhaps I'll even threaten my children with "Just wait until your mother gets home!" (Not really. I think it's rather cruel to let a child sit on dread that long and force him to have that kind of relationship with the other parent.)
The only possible excuse I'll accept for ceding my right to be a main nurturer is breastfeeding, where, of course, my physiology gets in the way ... a statement that brings up another interesting facet of the issue: I think that completely shared child raising is my right. Yet I'm finding that even some women have difficulty with that one, many assuming that child raising is their right alone. And, of course, I couldn't agree less.
DEAR READERS: For the moment, I'm stepping aside to make room for you. This letter is sure to provoke plenty of conversation — some of it quite impassioned — and it should be yours alone, Readers (capital R out of respect), uncontaminated by yours truly. After the heat subsides, I'll weigh in. Promise.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected] Write for your free signed copy of Susan's "Declaration of Undependence" on parchment. Send your request to: Susan Deitz, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.