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Theodore A. Hoppe

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So, what is the purpose of men in modern families?

There are several Op-Ed debate in the New York Times asking, or attempting to answer, this question.
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/06/03/what-are-fathers-for?hp

"In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women shows evolving family economics — or maybe, two very different types of families.

So what is the purpose of men in modern families? We’re approaching the holiday that celebrates dads, but do fathers bring anything unique to the table?"

Reference a TEDTalk that you have listen to on this topic if you can.

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    Jun 8 2013: If we have to ask such questions, does it suggest that evolution and biological absolutes are no longer fit to serve modern purpose? - and isn't that therefore devolution in paraphrase?

    If gender difference no longer suits modern purposes and aspiration, then I suggest it is modern expectations that are flawed - not whether men themselves have purpose.

    The health of the human race depends on the vitality and life-affirming quality of 'difference', not the muddy greyness of sameness and equality. To see someone comfortable in their own gender whilst having the greatest respect for their opposite, is a beautiful thing to behold - and I would go so far as to say it's what makes life worth living.
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      Jun 8 2013: What are "evolution and biological absolutes?"
      I'm sure you have made a point here but I cannot decipher what it is so allow me to ask if you read any on the Op-Ed pieces.
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        Jun 9 2013: Hi Theodore, Perhaps "Imperatives" would have been a better word in the context of biology and evolution - I mean the imperative of male and female in the continuation and adaptation of species. I used "Absolute" in the philosophical sense: "...a value or principle which is regarded as universally valid..." (Dictionary definition).

        I have read the OP-Ed pieces, and I must admit I went in as a sceptical male prepared to be savaged by modernist gender value systems - but came out, on balance, affirmed that my own gender may actually have purpose after all. And the only reason it may not, would only be as a result of the coveting of equality in materialistic/monetary terms (a superficial and contrived value system of our own making).

        A thread running through the Op-Ed contributors seemed to me to be about what men 'should' be doing - a kind of prescriptive expectation of performance on an economic template, in which, if he did not match up, would be cast aside as being useless - and not a 'real man'.

        It seems to me that a more enlightened form of equality would ensue anyway as a result of the removal of performance expectations under current economic criteria.
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          Jun 9 2013: Regarding "matching up" verse not being a "real man," is something Tony Porter TEDTalk adresses to some extent:
          "Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating -- no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger -- and definitely no fear; that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior; women are inferior; that men are strong; women are weak; that women are of less value, property of men, and objects, particularly sexual objects. I've later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men"

          This might be viewed by some as the "traditional role" men held. Redefining the role might not be a bad idea.
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      Jun 8 2013: Allan,
      Your comment brings tears to my eyes....

      ."To see someone comfortable in their own gender whilst having the greatest respect for their opposite, is a beautiful thing to behold - and I would go so far as to say it's what makes life worth living."

      What a wonderful world it would be:>)
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        Jun 9 2013: Colleen - do you think such a world is possible?
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          Jun 9 2013: Yes, I know it is possible, at least for some of us. Now....the question is....how many folks want to believe in it?
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      Jun 8 2013: I guess some things have changed and some haven't

      Only women can have babies, but we have contraception. There are trends towards equality of the sexes, legally and socially. More freedom for those in a family to work out their own dynamics or choose from a wider array of common options. Also perhaps a greater array of what constitutes a family.

      A big change in the West and what I suggest is a major source of increased wealth is having dual incomes. In fact for many it is hard to get ahead now without dual incomes. Its almost a necessity.

      Another has been increased education of women, more going to university, getting a career going, putting off having children.

      I kind of like it being equals and having more options with less blowback rather than me Tarzan breadwinner and you Jane stay at home and have babies.
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      Jun 9 2013: I love what you said. It's self-refuting, and I love self-refuting statements. Wisdom is self-refuting. Evolution IS biological absolute - "the only certain thing is change". Yes, sexes evolved to be different to create variety. But evolution also means continuous change, including change in relations between sexes.

      Men are different from women biologically, so it seems, they should have different roles. But also, one woman is not like another woman, and one man is not like another man. So, how can we assign some fixed "role" for all men and another fixed "role" for all women? Isn't it "muddy greyness" to expect all women to be the same and all men to be the same?

      It is, indeed, beautiful to see someone comfortable with their own identity, whatever it may be, even if this identity does not fit into a model set by society.
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    Jun 5 2013: The be mentally, phsically, spiritually and emotionally available to his partner, children and community.
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    Jun 8 2013: I believe if we are ever going to have equal rights for men and women in the modern world, then traditional gender roles in the household must be completely abolished. What a man can do as a father and what a woman can do as a mother should be interchangeable between the two and they should be seen more as a team that is sharing the equal load of maintaining the household.

    What I meant by biology was things like breastfeeding which is clearly something that a man cannot do.
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      Jun 8 2013: Where do we not have equal rights?
      One of the ways that is often pointed to is in the area of equal pay for equal work.

      "Even feminist economists acknowledge that today’s pay disparities are almost entirely the result of women's different life choices—what they study in school, where they work, and how they balance home and career. This is not to deny that some employers will try to pay Jill 78 cents and Jack $1.00 for an identical job. But our strict laws give Jill the right to take that employer to court. The claim that American women as a group face systemic wage discrimination is groundless."

      http://www.american.com/archive/2010/april/the-equal-pay-day-reality-check
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      Jun 8 2013: Isn't equal rights more about people having and making real choices.
      If people choose a sort of traditional approach rather than be forced it is just fine by me.
      By that I mean they may choose for the women to be the primary care giver but the man would still change nappies and help out etc not a forced Victorian separation into man stuff and women stuff.
      I'm fine if they choose some other way too and all parties reasonably happy.

      I know some women who can't wait to get back to work after having a baby and others who are most happy being the primary caregiver.
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    Jun 8 2013: It's sort of rare, but when I meet a man who shines in his manhood, it's a beautiful thing--and it has so many of the same characteristics of what we might call true womanhood: nurturing, kind, protective, thoughtful, strong, sure, generous, and positive.

    Come to think of it, when people are truly connected to what it means to care for themselves and each other, we could say that these are the characteristics of:

    Motherhood, fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, childhood, neighbourhood... We are not so essentially different, when we are truly beautiful!
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      Jun 8 2013: I like your thinking.
      In my study of relationship I have noticed a tendency toward individuality that leans itself toward a model of relationship that is based in the principles similar to social exchange theory. i. e. looking to get one's needs met in return for as little as possible.
      A more positive model of relationship is where we "do other's," meaning gaining insight and thoughtfulness into the others real needs and not just our own.
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    • Jun 6 2013: Great points and so well written. I was trying to work out how I would comment, but you took the words right out of my mouth.
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    Jun 5 2013: Theodore --

    Though I've long been the breadwinner in my family, even before I became a single parent, I'm unsettled by this question.

    While it's true modern familial contexts have changed, and thus, paternal roles would likely, too. It worries me that some are so naive or superficial to really think that fathers might not 'bring anything unique to the table.'

    In any case, the lack of men as heads of many households shouldn't imply their lack of purpose -- which can be different for different families, but, in my view, is critical for serving as: leader, partner, lover and parent -- at the very least!

    And, perhaps even more. As these favorite 'citizen fathers' I know, exemplify:
    http://dynamicshift.org/archives/coaches-time-to-train-citizen-fathers

    Andrea
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    Jun 19 2013: CLOSING STATEMENTS:

    Allow me to express a heart felt "thank you" to all that took the time to explore this conversation, and especially to those of you that participated by sharing your thoughts and concerns.

    When I first googled, "The Role of Men" I found that many of the link lead to site that had religious affiliations. There are few sites that take an academic perceptive, but I did manage to find a few that expressed some important points.

    The first question we might ask is, "What has changed?"

    "In a patriarchal society males enjoy a socially dominant position. Thus, from an early age, boys are helped to acquire a masculinity that allows them to assume and maintain that position. By the same token, girls are taught to cultivate a submissive femininity. The resulting difference in the male and female character is then described as inborn and used to defend the existing power arrangement. Only those who accept it are normal, and only they can expect to succeed. The male social role is designed to reward masculine men, while the female social role offers its relative advantages only to feminine women. (The aggressive man will run the bigger business; the pretty, agreeable woman will find the richer husband.)
    In other words, masculinity and femininity are gender qualities which are developed in response to social discrimination. However, once they have been developed, they justify and cement it. The masculine and feminine gender roles mutually reinforce each other and thereby perpetuate the inequality on which they are based."

    Mutual reinforcement is a key take away here; if it is a part of the problem it can serve as a part of the solution.

    "Equality between women and men is recognized as a principle in international law, articulated in many United Nations documents from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights onwards. The idea that men and boys might have a specific role in realizing this principle has only been articulated recently"
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    Jun 8 2013: For me,family is the center of my life,namely my purpose of life is to prosper my family. I say family is not the family confined in the house,just wife and kids,but a bloodline in my father,grandfather's side.Since my family as far as I know,has been crippled since grand,grandfather,I strive to terminate my family's ill fate.I study hard,struggle,toil on my own,enhance my own capability,is ultimately to fulfill my promise.

    Also, I think educating my children,is a way of maintaining or pursuing prosperity.If I can not fulfill my promise,I will pass it down to my children,I will teach them to strive for the rise of our family.

    I try hard to protect my family's pride and dignity,so my purpose is pursuing the rise my family,it is above anything.
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      Jun 9 2013: Jaden, you state that your family has been crippled since grand, grandfather.

      What do you mean by this expression?

      And what is different for you today than from your own father, to make you think that you can terminate your family's ill fate?

      And one last question, what do you mean by ill fate?

      Thank you Jaden for your reply to these questions whenever you may have time to answer. Mary
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        Jun 10 2013: Hi Mary,I will frankly answer your question although it concerns some sort of privacy.

        ps:This is the link of English version My Country And My People. http://www.unz.org/Pub/LinYutang-1938 Hope you like it.I will certainly not miss The Good Earth.
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          Jun 10 2013: Hi Jaden, thank you for your candid reply.
          This cultural situation of village life is a difficult situation to even imagine in a city such as the one I live, because many times we do not even know our neighbor's name.

          Here people move easily from one city to another, or from one state to another, and they start a new life with new friends and a new job. Of course, our economy now is not so good, so it is not easily done. But it is possible.

          I think perhaps I did not realize how important this 'rise of family' drive is in your culture.
          It is sad to read of your grandfather's experience.

          In The Good Earth the main character goes back to his village, and ends up buying all the land that was once owned by the richest family. And eventually he buys the home, with it's many courts, and his male children and grandchildren all live together there.
          His one daughter disappears from the story. She joins her husband family.
          He goes from being a poor farmer, to being a wealthy respected man.

          My question now is. Do you feel that all Chinese young men also feel like you?
          Or do you think perhaps the adversity in your past has affected your outlook on life?

          What kinds of stories have you been able to hear from your college friends? Do they study with the same pressure as yours? (I am so very curious)

          And I want to thank you for the link to My Country and My People.
          I will start reading it today.
          I started a biography last night of a Columbian author. It is part of a trilogy.
          It will be interesting to learn about two cultures at once.

          Talk to you soon, Mary
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        Jun 10 2013: Mary,no worries,I am not fully identified in TED,so it won't affect me much.I will erase the certain portions,so I will feel securer,thank you for your advice.

        Actually,I am not too ashamed when talk about my family,that's the fact,I have to face up to it.My path of life,is what I call my destiny.

        This longing for 'rise of family' is the result of various factors,culture,personality,circumstance,education,etc.Hence,not every young man feels the same.I think this is pretty common in the world,every country has the rich and the poor,some are born in upper class families,they could't feel a consciousness that there is a path from the bottom to the top.Some may received little love from their family,their view of 'rise of family' restrained.Also,some, led by the values they are taught,the education they received,their aspirations differ.

        I think adversity and suffering is necessary,people get maturer and tougher through the tests.Those who grow up in a favorable condition,rarely confront any difficulty,are more likely to quit when things get tougher.In the long run,I definitely appreciate adversity.What do you think about pressure or adversity in life?Do you intentionally give your children some this kind of tasks?

        So I've answered your questions above,due to the culture,especially Confucianism,the majority of Chinese are family-oriented,longing for family prosperity first.

        I wonder,Mary,you are a teacher,and a mother,probably a helper for many people,how could you manage enough to time to read,do you read books fast?I found reading needs much concentration,it takes me a few days to finish a book.
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          Jun 11 2013: I think you are correct in stating that adversity and suffering is sometimes necessary to build character traits in individuals. Endurance, patience, long-suffering, steadfastness, and a certain degree of insight and wisdom as well as maturity may very well be fine outcomes of trials and tribulations.

          How do I manage to read? I read early in the morning, before anyone awakes, and late into the night. Also, I make time throughout the day....10 minutes here and there. If I am reading something really interesting, I will keep the book with me always....and I will even read it when I am at a red light. I am kind of an avid reader. It is my favorite thing to do, next to talking to other people. It also depends on the book....It is something that came with time. I wasn't always like this. It took many years of practice, you know what they say, practice makes perfect!

          What's the worst book you have ever read? And the best?

          [edited spelling]
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        Jun 12 2013: I did not realize how important books in our life until enter into university.We do not have time to read extra books in high school here.Every Chinese student has to strive for College Entrance Test,which literally determines our career,even our life.So we nearly put all eggs in one basket in 12 years' study,for one last future-determining test.Positively,it is the fairest game in our life,whereby most students climb from the bottom to the top,turn around family's fate.It takes place on June 7 and 8 each year.

        Actually,I have no idea what is the worst book I have ever read,I just forgot those books didn't make any sense to me.But I do remember many books that are impressive and beneficial.Like Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist,which attracts me by the culture of Mediterranean and Spanish.And Paulo depicts what a destiny is,how destiny guides the boy,I like the word 'destiny'.And a book called Zeng Guofan's Family Letters,Zeng Guofan,a renowned sage in 1800s,who proclaims study,self-discipline,pure proposition,family maintenance in the book,this book influences me the most. I think Lean In is a remarkable also,which is not designed only for women as it looks,I learned a lot.So,what about you,what kind of difference that books make in your life?

        I haven't reach a position where I can read books like you,your way of reading like a drunk longing for alcohol,haha! I admire that,I think I can practice your way.Yes,practice,also I found need quite a repetition to truly digest a book which has valuable knowledge.
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          Jun 12 2013: There is quite a bit of writing about all topics, including the one in this discussion...the role of men in modern families.

          Have you read the links that Mr. Hoppe provided on top?
          They will give you a good idea as to the diversity of thinking here in the United States.

          On another line of thought, I think that it is interesting that our philosophy of life is oftentimes someone else's philosophy first......we just take on what appeals to us personally.

          Books are indeed powerful, because they shape us......in a way.

          I have heard of the Alchemist, but I have not read it. And Zeng Guofan's Family Letters sounds very interesting.

          Are you familiar with Carl Jung? I think perhaps my next reading will be some of his work.

          Your portrait of me as a drunk longing for a book as if it were alcohol is very funny.
          When I have been very busy with school, and I know my time is so short for reading, I have to do this carrying around of the book.......here in the United States, whenever you see a man walking around with a small paper bag in one hand, and drinking from a substance inside, you know he is probably a drunk,......and inside the paper bag is an alcoholic drink, usually a beer. So after reading your statement I pictured myself with a book inside a paper bag, and looking inside the bag with ravenous eyes wanting to absorb the words inside......

          Perhaps because words pack much force, many harsh governments censor what can be given to the people to read? The written word is indeed powerful.

          To answer your question, about the difference that books, or for that matter, any writing, have made in my life, I would have to say that it has helped me see the points of view of others. And this has contributed to my feeling a need for undestanding my fellow human.
          It has helped me see the importance of good communication.
          And to ask questions first, and not just assume you understand others by reading a few words.

          Are there any editorials in Chinese newspapers?
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        Jun 13 2013: Hi Mary,what do you mean in first paragraph?

        I can't open that link,New York Times was blocked here not long ago.

        I didn't know him before you mentioned here.So,he was a expert in psychology?

        It's interesting men have to hide the alcoholic drink in the paper bag?

        I think people in different stage of life have different purposes on reading.For me,I am lacking in life experiences,knowledge,so I try to absorb information that providing these stuff by reading books.So,book equals knowledge,in my perspective.But,for people like you,maybe,you already have the knowledge that books provide,right?Or,you have confidence in your own way of life,but like to hear different opinions?

        Yes,many influential newspapers have editorials.They always stand up for government's sake,not for the average people.Because of their overwhelming influence,every single editorial fuels controversy among the scholars and media,especially when it comes to politics.
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          Jun 13 2013: Hi Jaden, what I meant by my first paragraph, is that there are alot of books written about men in this country.

          Look:

          http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/men-self-help?keyword=men+self+help&store=book

          I hope you can open the link :/

          And there are books also for women, probably more than for men.

          Carl Jung was an interesting individual. He was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist.I do not know much about him, but I am very familiar with his quotes. So I will read and find out now about the man behind the quotes.
          Perhaps you can search online when you have time and also learn?

          You said, "for people like you, maybe, you already have the knowledge that books provide, right?"

          My reply..........wrong!!

          I am learning also Jaden. For me, books allow me to focus on one subject and helps with the research of on subject. But there are many books, and each one gives a different perspective...........so there is alot of reading to do.

          Ultimately though, it comes down to us.
          What do I personally think.
          I read to learn, and to form an educated decision.
          But I am aware that even then, I may still be missing something!
          So, best to always keep an open mind. :)

          As for editorials in your country.........well, I am not surprised.
          Here editorials do not always stand up for the government.
          And they always fuel controversy like in your country.

          It is just too bad you cannot open the link to the articles in the New York times.
          They are absolutely wonderful.
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        Jun 13 2013: I can open the link.Only those giant websites containing political standpoints are blocked,or potentially with politically divergences with the government,like facebook,twitter,youtube,google,etc.Anyway,fortunately I don't need these.


        'open mind',I see you use 'open mind' quite a lot,I absolutely agree.Thank you Mary,I will never forget it after talking to you.

        It's just early morning in your country now?

        Thank you for the wonderful conversations,Mary.Since I joined the TED community,you are the one I talk with the most,have fantastic exchanges with you.

        I will definitely see you in other conversations,I see you in many conversations.

        Be well
        Jaden
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          Jun 13 2013: Yes it is early morning here........I am trying to listen to the quiet of the morning....bird songs....but the gardeners just started mowing the grass........oh what luck!!!

          I jump around conversations alot.....I try to keep my contributions light.....I am no expert in any particular field....except in elementary education.......but I do read alot, and love to talk.
          I steer clear of political and deep science topics.....not well informed in either.

          Also, it is a shame you cannot open youtube. Mr. Hoppe posted a wonderful talk on being a man. I am going to try and find a way to get the transcript of that talk to you Jaden.

          Be Well,
          Mary
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        Jun 13 2013: Thanks,Mary,I will be waiting for the transcript.

        It is late night here,I need to go to bed.

        You have a good day.
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        Jun 16 2013: Hi,Mary,thanks,I can open the link,but can't watch the video.There are PDFs available,are they the transcripts of the videos?

        Like it one:

        http://www.coachforamerica.com/images/stories/pdfs/coc_parent.pdf
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          Jun 17 2013: Hi Jaden, I just wanted you to know that I filled out a form to try and get the talk posted to TED.
          If it comes through, you'll be able to see it, I think?

          I will continue to google search for a transcript of the talk....so far, the only transcript available is the one youtube did.....but it is really really poor....lots of words missing and wrong words typed.

          I copy pasted it to word, so that I could send it to you, but it was so poor, that it did not do the talk justice.

          I am not giving up. But this conversation is about to close, so I will contact you through another post somewhere else.
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        Jun 18 2013: Yes,I can see any video on TED. I'm going to find out how it functions that TEDster can fill out a form to get a talk posted to TED,this seems quite fascinating.

        Thanks for your work,Mary,I'm getting more curious about the talk,I'm waiting,I wish I can see it on TED talks soon.
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    Jun 8 2013: Theodore.
    This question you ask makes me want to say, what is the purpose for anything? If a man is there then, he has purpose. You only need to justify his presence. This is a personal situation, and therefore many justifiable arguments can be applied. You use the word Purpose, perhaps it is, ROLE the word that you might want to use.
    Cheers
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      Jun 8 2013: I had the same thought. Perhaps, "role" is a better word to use in this question. People in the same role may have all kinds of different purposes.
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      Jun 8 2013: Vincenzo and Arkady,
      I agree....people in the same role may have all kinds of different purposes, which is why I used the word "role" in my first comment on this thread:>)
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    Jun 7 2013: Hi Theodore,
    I believe the purpose of family members is to support and encourage each other. For generations, there have been stereotypical "roles" for men and women in a family. The woman took care of the kids, and she was supposed to be the emotional supporter of the family. The man was supposed to be the financial supporter of the family. Men were often taught not to be too emotional, and women were often taught to stay in the kitchen and take care of everyone.

    You may know that not too long ago, there was a law on the Vermont books which clearly said the wife was the property of the husband, and he had the right, under the law, to whip and shoot her for certain offences. Finally, that law was removed, but the paradigm shift in society takes a very long time. There is a sociological term for this, that I don't remember at the moment.

    We are now talking publically about abuse. The roles of men and women are changing, with more and more women in the work force, and more stay at home dads. We are ALL (both men and women) capable of sharing many of the same roles, and I think it may still be difficult for some people to accept and appreciate this, so with some people, the shift is causing stress, distress, discomfort, frustration, etc.

    You write..."In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women....."

    I don't honestly see it as a "victory" for women. To me, it demonstrates that women CAN be the breadwinner, and men CAN share the emotional support of the family. I have been told by some men in conversations about this topic, that some men feel threatened by the evolution of women. What do you think about this Theodore?
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      Jun 7 2013: I linked this to several talks.
      Ali Carr Chellman mentions "The Hundred Girls Project tells us some really nice statistics. For example, for every 100 girls that are suspended from school, there are 250 boys that are suspended from school. For every 100 girls who are expelled from school, there are 335 boys who are expelled from school. For every 100 girls in special education, there are 217 boys. For every 100 girls with a learning disability, there are 276 boys. For every 100 girls with an emotional disturbance diagnosed, we have 324 boys. And by the way, all of these numbers are significantly higher if you happen to be black, if you happen to be poor, if you happen to exist in an overcrowded school. And if you are a boy, you're four times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD -- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

      Philip Zimbardo says, "Guys are flaming out academically; they're wiping out socially with girls and sexually with women."
      "What's the evidence of wiping out? First, it's a new fear of intimacy. Intimacy means physical, emotional connection with somebody else -- and especially with somebody of the opposite sex who gives off ambiguous, contradictory, phosphorescent signals."
      "The only people who should care about this is parents of boys and girls, educators, gamers, filmmakers and women who would like a real man who they can talk to, who can dance, who can make love slowly and contribute to the evolutionary pressures to keep our species above banana slugs."
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      Jun 8 2013: Re: "I don't honestly see it as a "victory" for women. To me, it demonstrates that women CAN be the breadwinner, and men CAN share the emotional support of the family."

      I had the same thought, Coleen. It's great that women CAN be the sole bread winner, but it's not so great when women HAVE TO work as much as or more than men. The "victory" seems to be bitter-sweet. In modern economy, the "right" to work for women slowly transformed into the "necessity" to work.
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      Jun 8 2013: That is a quote from the Times. It is not my personal view.
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    Jun 19 2013: The second question I will pose is, "What has to change."


    I hope that others will look at this report and give some thought to its goals:

    http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/men-boys2003/Connell-bp.pdf

    "The Role of Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality"

    Gender relations are an interactive system of connections and distinctions among
    people (and groups of people) – what happens to one group in this system affects the
    others, and is affected by them;
    · Gender relations are not superficial, but are deeply embedded in organizational
    routines, in religious and legal concepts, and in the taken-for-granted arrangements of
    people's lives (such as the distinction between "home" and "work");
    · Gender relations are multi-dimensional, interweaving relationships of power,
    economic arrangements, emotional relationships, systems of communication and
    meaning, etc.;
    · Gender systems are diverse and changing – they arise from different cultural histories
    in different parts of the world, have changed in the past and are undergoing change
    now (Connell 2002; Ferree et al. 1999; Holter 1997; Walby 1996).


    It has been a privilege to host this discussion. I have learned, listened, grown, and shared. Thank you again!
  • Jun 16 2013: Last Continuation of previous post (sorry for the length...I am just rather passionate about this topic):

    The role of the father is to help their children develop, grow and flourish mentally, intellectually, spiritually, and socially just as the mother does. It is not until we reach a point that the prevailing opinion on our society supports this fact that we will have true gender equality in the family. It is becoming more and more supported that women can be the breadwinner, as it should be, but now we also need to accept the fact that fathers can and should play the same role in their children’s development as the mother. Gender equality is only equality when gender does not come into the equation at all.
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      Jun 16 2013: Excellent essay.
      I applaud your effort and thank you for contributing to this discussion
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      Jun 17 2013: " Gender equality is only equality when gender does not come into the equation at all. " One of the wisest statements, and one which my father said slightly differently, to me when I was a child; " Everyone is equal and gender doesn't come into the equation at all."

      Bravo Michael!!
    • Jun 18 2013: Well said but what about when the roles are provided by two men or two women? In this case is there an equality as well?
      • Jun 18 2013: I would be tempted to say that there would be sex equality because biological sex is obviously not playing a role in the division of labor. There may or may not be gender equality. That would be dependent on the individual situation and on if one of the two partners has assumed a different gender identity than the other in the construct of the masculine or the feminine. However, for true equality these gender constructs need to be deconstructed. If labor is broken down without thought to gender roles (or another other type of societal categorization) or based on skill than I would consider that equality.

        Thanks for taking the time to ask a question James. I enjoy the discussion.
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    Jun 8 2013: Should we ask this question? Do we need to fit ourselves and each other into preconceived molds? Wouldn't this question inevitably lead to sexism, no matter how we answer it?

    It seems to me that we live in an age when boundaries and identities of all kinds blend together. E.g., ethnic background and citizenship do not matter much. People from all over the world live and work all over the world. Women serve as CEO of multinational corporations and heads of governments. U.S. military opened combat positions for women in January 2013. In many countries, a "family" no longer means a union between a man and a woman.

    Many women don't like to clean the house, cook, do the laundry, and babysit children. They envision themselves as professionals. Why not? Why should they be forced into some "role" that we see for them? Same applies to men. There are many men who work as nurses and elementary school teachers. Why not?

    Usually, when I'm told that "man is supposed to be strong" or "man is supposed to be the head of the family" it usually means that I don't measure up to these stereotypes. So what?

    I suggest not to bother ourselves and those around us with such questions and just be who and what we are.
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      Jun 8 2013: I'm not sure if the term "preconceived molds" equates the conditioning we have experienced that results in the models we create.
      The problem may be that we have unconsciously created dysfunctional models. And as we know, we resist changing our schema.

      If we have a girl baby wrapped in a baby blanket, generally speaking, what color is the blanket?
      Social psychology plays a role here.
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        Jun 8 2013: Re: "The problem may be that we have unconsciously created dysfunctional models. And as we know, we resist changing our schema."

        We need models to predict what we don't know. But all models are limited. We must understand the limits of our models to realize when they do not apply. What makes models dysfunctional is applying them to situations and people that don't fit in these models. This is when models fail to predict and may cause harm.
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        Jun 9 2013: “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

        ― Mark Twain
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      Jun 8 2013: Arkady and Theodore,
      Pat Heim, PhD, confirms this point in her book "Hardball for Women"....."winning at the game of business".

      When we are born, baby boys are wrapped in a blue blanket, and girls are wrapped in a pink blanket, and from that day on, are treated differently.

      So, in a way, society DOES mold us (or tries to) into what is expected of a girl/woman or boy/man.
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        Jun 8 2013: Babies are colour coded for efficiency sake. I don't think it as any real impact on the babies. When family go to look at their babies, if they know it's a girl, look for pink.

        The business industry via advertisement mold our thinking in most western countries. There are pockets of culture distributed through out every country, where the social structure is an established method of social interaction. Some of these systems we can escape from. Others, are not so easy, such as Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males.

        In the US, there is no cultural role model alignment that is central to the American Society, other than Judao-Christan ideals.

        If women want to wing the game of business, they need to entrench themselves in the Advertisement industry and recreate the models of women presented to society. But, they usually go for the money instead and continue the status-qua. In this regard they are no different than men.

        After we have lost a few hundred females in hard combat in military service, it will be interesting to see how role models change.
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          Jun 8 2013: According to research AND reality John Moonstroller, it DOES indeed have an impact.

          You say....."Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males."

          You also write..."After we have lost a few hundred females in hard combat in military service, it will be interesting to see how role models change."

          We HAVE lost females in combat......females who were fighting alongside males who were/are raping them.......think about your comments John.
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          Jun 9 2013: Re: "Others, are not so easy, such as Islamic social structures, where women are considered nothing more than breeding stock and pleasure apparatus for males."

          Can it be that this is a stereotype created by Western propaganda to think that all Muslims treat women like this? We hear these stories about Taliban to justify continued war in Eastern countries. I have a suspicion that it's not true of Muslims in general.
      • Jun 9 2013: It's true, Colleen.
        When my kids were babies, I consciously dressed and wrapped them in primary colors. And no matter where I was, the very first question was: is it a boy or a girl? So regardless of the color-coding, people want to categorize their behavior based on gender.
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    Jun 8 2013: "In almost half the American households with children, mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners. This victory for working women..." Is this somebody's idea of a joke? The abandoned single mother, so common in poverty-ridden neighborhoods, is a victory for working women? The notion is bizarre.

    About "the purpose of men:" This is a lot like asking about the purpose of life. Just as there can be no "purpose of life" in the abstract - you have to deal with the purposes of a specific life - there is no such thing as the "purpose of men" in general, even within a family. The purposes (or roles, functions, aims, goals) of Bill in his family and other relationships are up to Bill and those he interacts with. They will certainly vary over time, and will probably not be the same as Joe's. But Bill, like everyone, may be better off not worrying about his "purpose," but work on spreading joy.
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      Jun 8 2013: The abandoned single mother is the bubble men get put in when there is a split in a family. This is not always the case. I believe it is wrong for either gender to walk out of a family, stonewalling one parent or abandoning the whole family is wrong. The bonding agent just doesn't seem to be there anymore statistically speaking for self-centered reasons. However, males are always the perpetrators in the beginning. A male with poverty level income loses everything in the present court system as he is told, "put your money where your mouth is" by a judge..
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    Jun 6 2013: Sperm. Friendship. Love. Protection. Money. Change light bulbs.
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      Jun 6 2013: Not only is your answer a good one.
      But you relayed it in 'typical' male fashion.
      Short and to the point.
      At least that is how my husband communicates.
      Thanks Obey.
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        Jun 8 2013: I couldn't help myself. I just changed the kitchen sink tap. Very proud male moment when it worked without leaking.

        Seriously while there are probably cultural/societal patterns, and biological conditions (men can not get pregnant and have babies) a lot of the role of men and women, heterosexual, homosexual or other in a family or relationship contexts is up to the individuals to figure out themselves.

        Families today can mean a wide range of situations. Single parent, same sex, extended etc.

        I guess if the parties involved care for each other and work together towards healthy happy children or whatever reasonable goals it is all good.
  • Jun 6 2013: Best gift a father can give his children. Is loving their mother...

    From my own personal experience, My Dad (he was born in 1929) role was the supportive parent, he was caring, nurturing and loving. He cooked, cleaned, bathed kids, baked, worked our farm and had a full time job. My Mother did the same. They also had 10 children.

    My father was the conversation, the hug and the shoulder. He set the bar for the men my brothers are and the men my sisters and I would marry.

    Fathers are amazing, whether they work or choose to stay home. Even if you don't stay married, it doesn't mean the role of the father changes or becomes less (because then you would be a dead beat Dad and that is no ones fault but your own)
  • Jun 5 2013: The fact that one parent of either sex can support a child is true. It does not make it a good family model.

    Here are some things fathers bring to the table:

    1) Usually financial support, some or all depending on the ability of the mother to earn money and the willingness of the mother to sacrifice time with the child for life style. In some families, the same can be said for the decision for the father to work vs raise children. Having two parents that can work decreases the dependency (and usually the stress) on the working parent. If both can work, it potentially increases family wealth.

    2) Security. Have a male in the house generally causes children and perhaps women to feel less vulnerable to outside physical threats. To fight and protect as require to ensure the family's safety.

    3) A male perspective on situations and life, and serve as a male role model.

    4) Contributions to household chores, maintenance items, emergencies, and resolving unexpected situations.

    5) To teach children how males and females can interact peacefully and live life together.

    6) To teach children,particularly young males, life skills that might help them survive.

    7) To be advocates for their children as they mature with other people and society.

    8) To be a living insurance plan, back-up plan, or Plan B when things do not go right or the unexpected happens. Dads are usually pretty good at getting out of trouble and minimizing the effects of bad events that have occurred.

    9) To provide structure, discipline, stability and progressive maturity development for children.

    10) To show children how to enjoy life and survive.

    There are many more.

    Dads are not perfect. They often fall short in many of the above. Most try and do the best they can at these things even though they may not be appreciated, respected, understood, or even wanted in some instances.

    Not all stand and deliver. Some leave. Some think a child's life is better without them. Some fail.

    All are human.
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    Jun 5 2013: Both parents model attitudes and choices for the youngsters in the family. At the very least, each models uniqueness as an individual, but our biological differences suggest that we also behave in a different context. Dad may sometimes have greater insight into what son might be feeling or struggling with, for example, for having gone through life so far as a male.

    My eldest children are daughters and my youngest a son. As i grew up with no brothers and therefore did not even watch a boy growing up, much less live that journey myself, I picked up a book that had been recommended to me about raising boys. Most of what raising children involves is, I think, quite indifferent to gender, but I was seeking any special insight of which I might be unaware- special developmental issues.

    The book I read, which gave me useful perspective and which I recommend if it has not yet fallen into the path of your research is called The Wonder of Boys, by Michael Gurian.
  • Jun 5 2013: Hi Theodore,
    what an interesting topic!

    I feel very fortunate that my husband and I are working together to raise our kids. We work hard at our relationship, and value each other highly in our relationship. Often times, our gender-specific roles sort of take over - I cook, I wash, I nurture. He mows the lawn, he fixes the roof, he rough-houses with the kids. Other times, our roles feel opposite. I take the trash to the dump, he vacuums the house. No matter what we do, though, we are very much a team, a unit, and our children perceive us as that. But, they also have the space to develop their own personal relationships with both of us.

    I see change in society when it comes to modern men. The 'Metro Man' or 'metrosexual', for example, comes to mind:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metrosexual
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=metro%20man
    Also, on the rare occasions that I watch TV, I see quite a lot of cooking shows which are hosted by or incorporate men, from baking cakes to bread to gourmet meals. And at the same time, there are violent protests in some parts of the world about accepting homosexuals males. On the one hand, society seems to be pressuring men to be more 'feminine', but on the other, they still need to watch the football game and do the barbeque. It's confusing for everyone.The media seems to promote a merging of the two genders, or even a switch.
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      Jun 8 2013: Well, you said all and well. But what I liked the most about your comment was seeing a person that is conscious about the role of media on our daily life !
      • Jun 8 2013: Thanks, Abdelbari!
        It's hard not to notice - according to the media, men are expected to play so many roles in the family these days - they have to be sexy husbands, devoted fathers, gourmet chefs, all-round handymen, full-time bread-winners, and oh yeah, they can't be afraid to cry or use skin creme...!
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          Jun 8 2013: Yes, NIVEA has now its skin creme for MEN :D

          TBH, I'm surprised about the way you look at men, I was convinced that this is how all occident women look at men and want them to be like but you turned out different, The more you know is always less !

          Now, even in my society, media has a huge impact on that same topic and I can see it clearly in the university, at job, sometimes even inside my family ..... As a man, I feel weird sometimes in front of all these new world's expectation, they just make you feel strange. This reminds me astory, i'll tell it briefly if you don't mind. "There was a kingdom once in which flows a big river, it was the main water ressource of the kingdom's citizens. Someday the river got poisoned and every one drinks from it gets crazy, so all the citizens became crazy. The king faced the plague and faught it till one morning when he found that his wife also became crazy and started to complain about the king's craziness. The king called his minister :
          -where was the guards when the queen drank the water?
          -all the guards are crazy too, your majesty.
          -and the doctor?
          -the doctor too, my lord.
          -who else isn't crazy than ?
          -sadly my lord, the is no one but you and me, all the kingdom got crazy and they're pretending that they're wise ones and we're crazy.
          -what's this bullshit? they drank from the river so they're the crazy ones !
          -in fact my lord, they're telling they drank from the river to prevent themselves from craziness, so we're crazy if we didn't drink. Now, they're the majority and they own right, justice and vertue and they're the ones who put the threshold between sanity and craziness.
          At this moment the king said: Minister, serve me a goblet from the river of craziness ... Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of madmen.

          I don't know why I told this story, but it just acrosses my mind from time to time. And sorry for my bad english, this is why I don't translate on Amara :p
      • Jun 9 2013: You know, Abdelbari, I've known for a long time I look at a lot of things 'differently' than most women... perhaps because I grew up with two older brothers whom I adored. Perhaps, by the influence my Dad had on me, which wasn't apparent till later in life (see the tribute to Dads convo), perhaps it's just my character... I see a man as exactly the same as me, with some slight differences.

        I loved your story, and see well how it fits into this thread! "Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of madmen." You could say "Craziness is trying to stay sane in a world of The Media."
        Drinking the water in your story, or complying to the commercial 'role' a man should play, it's the same thing. Do we succumb to the insanity, or pave our own road?
        I dare say, most male Tedians are road-pavers.
  • Jun 17 2013: Some wonder why men in Western cultures refuse to grow up. It's because we tell them being responsible and mature and having a defined function in society is not necessary because of the empowerment of women (taken too far).

    We need to foster a culture where men are accountable for their actions, and women don't emulate the bad boys. We need to remember that lifting one another up is just as possible as dragging each other down, and actually do the former, while stating the latter is no longer socially acceptable.

    We men are more fragile than we are willing to admit, and we retain a superficial life focus (by and large) until a good woman holds us to being a good man. Then we hold each other to be good parents.

    When Western society learns that men and women are fundamentally different in their function to society, but equally valued based on that difference, we all will realize that questions like this can be seen as fundamentally anti-man.
    • Jun 18 2013: Craig,

      Can you expand on what you believe this fundamentally different function for men is in your opinion. I would love to better understand your position.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    I am just not sure how we've come to a society where we have worked so hard to free women from strict gender roles but apparently in the mainstream my value in a nuclear family is still directly tied to my financial contribution - that we discuss what the role for an adult male could possibly be in a nuclear family in a post male-bread winner society as if it is any different from a woman's. It seems we have progressed in this particular instance to a place near equality but then jumped ship straight to the other side to where men are now the victim and still very restricted to gender roles if they don't want to be looked down upon. It is not that I worry I will not be able to financially support any family I might have. I seriously doubt that we would hurt, but I am also equally sure that it is quite possible that my wife would make more than me epically if I pursue the career in educational finance that I desire. I should not have any trouble supporting my family, but I also feel like if my wife is a less social area she could easily make more. It bothers me that in society’s eye this may hurt my value as a man and as a father. However, it bothers me even more for what it implies, that my potential value as a catalyst for growth and development mentally, intellectually, or spiritually in any potential future child is so discredited next to that of their mother that my value in a nuclear family is questioned when I am not the primary bread winner. That is to say, I have no role to play in the true parenting of my child. Financial support and security only make development and growth the most possible, by protecting against some barriers to effective education. It is not, in and of itself, development or growth.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    As seen in the same Op Ed I just praised we seem to praise positive progression for women as universally positive without questioning, in instances where appropriate, why men are falling behind. For example, “The latest grabber came from a Pew study that found women are now the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children. Clearly, there is good news embedded in this story. For example, women now earn 60 percent of university degrees in the U.S. And these young, college-educated women in urban areas are now beginning their careers with higher starting salaries than their male counterparts. This is a cause for celebration for those of us interested in greater gender equality.” The Op Ed does have something definite correct. This is a great and positive step forward for women, but why are we not questioning the other side of this equation. Men are roughly 50% of the population but they are only receiving 40% of college degrees. Why is this not concerning? A 60 / 40 spilt on college education does not seem to be equality to me – it seems that something is holding back men (internally or externally) that is curbing their ability to reach their potential. I see this same problematic thinking in line with the parenting debate. It is absolutely wonderful that single parents can raise perfectly successful children, but I do not think it is equally as wonderful that because men are no longer needed to be the breadwinner that we find ourselves asking if men have a role to play at all in their nuclear families.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    . In a society that is pushing towards gender equality the role of a man in a nuclear family is to show that being a good man is simply being a good person – that there is no difference between being a good man and being a good woman. In a society of true gender equality, the answer to the New York Time’s question of “Do father’s bring anything unique to the table?” is a resounding, and proud “No,” but just because fathers may bring nothing unique does not mean they do not contribute at all. As one of the Op Eds pointed out, “Our research (with mainly college-educated, white-collar fathers) shows that today’s fathers spend an average of 2.5 hours per workday with their children and more than 3 out of 4 would like to have even more time with their offspring. Those fathers reported that being a breadwinner was less important to them than providing their children with love and emotional support, being present and involved in their child’s life, or being a good mentor and role model. In spite of their longer paid working hours, fathers have doubled their time doing domestic tasks and tripled their time on child care over the last generation, although they do still do significantly less than their spouses in both categories. The number of at-home dads has also doubled in the last decade.” This is as it should be: a step towards equality and continued steps until fathers are doing just as much domestic work as their partners and are just as involved in their children’s lives. I have come to live in a society which has a definition of equality that confuses me.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    I have come to accept this and have supplemented my social circle with men that can act as the kind of role model I would have much preferred to find myself living with. The Op Ed suggests, it seems positively, that children will spend their entire lives chasing after the approval of their father, but this seems short sighted. Children who ultimately become adults need to learn to internalize their success so that they may become stable, happy adults driven by internal purpose as opposed to becoming sheep following the herd of society looking for praise and acceptance. This becomes rather hard to do if you are always chasing after the acceptance of a parent – or even if you are always validated by your parents. Children, as teens and adults need to reach a point where they are validating their own existence and achievements. This is something both mothers and fathers can play a role in developing. A parent’s gender or sex is insignificant. However, this assumption is further presented in the way the New York Times presented the debate. In their introduction it questions, “In an age when more and more mothers are sole or primary breadwinners, do fathers bring anything unique to the table?” Even in the posing of this question alone we are presented with the assumption that men’s unique contribution to their children’s lives are financial. After all, what could they possibly contribute when women are becoming the bread winners? As I have stated, this status quo seems outdated and misguided.

    Men may not have any unique offerings to bring to the table beyond the fact that they can act as a male role model, but even this role is questionable.
  • Jun 16 2013: Continuation of previous post:

    However, for generations and throughout cultures, a man’s responsibility has been to protect the women and children under his care. This includes not only physical protection but also financial provision and the display of healthy authority in the home.
    Fathers also pass down a blessing to their children. A mom believes her son or daughter is a success no matter what. The child who scratches out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on a violin is destined for first chair in the New York Philharmonic, according to Mom. Dad’s validation is different. The son or daughter who never receives this blessing may unconsciously spend a lifetime searching for it.”

    This Op Ed actually appeared to be written in support of fathers – however, I believe the picture it paints of a father’s role is sorely lacking. I do not believe all men are capable of providing the type of physical protection that seems required in this definition. Perhaps, because I am physically disabled I am biased – I know there are exceptions, but it saddens me that I would be considered less of a father because I may be unable to physically protect my future wife and children. That is not to say that they will be in danger – I am becoming college educated, pursuing a well-paid career I am passionate about and have a great support network that will be there to help me and my family. I seriously doubt we would ever be put in a truly dangerous situation. I do not think my inability to play this role will make me any less of a father (or at least should not).
    Further, I question the value of the stern, unaccepting father that is praised in this particular Op Ed. My own father has been far from involved in my life. He is what many would consider the traditional father – of a model I consider outdated. He is the bread winner but does not contribute much to my development in any other way. We hardly ever communicate.
  • Jun 16 2013: Before I answer the question directly, because I think it has a very simple one, I want to spend some time on a problem I see weaved through not only the question the New York Times asked, but its introduction to the debate and several of the debaters responses to the question. There seems to be two assumptions I can pinpoint in this sphere of thinking and debate that the New York Times or the opinions presented imply.

    1) Men’s primary role in the family is or should be financial support
    2) Children who grow up without a father are doomed

    There seems to be more Op Eds that agree with the first assumption and more Op Eds that disagree with the second and from casual observation, that break down seems consistent with wider society. That being said, this observation may be biased as I have grown up in a low socioeconomic area and I suspect, the Op Ed “When Children Are Better Off Fatherless” may apply more so to the places I am familiar with than more affluent areas. However, we can take these two assumptions and generalize it into a deeper statement about a father’s role in a nuclear family.

    Underlying Assumption Identified: Men are only necessary to provide financial support and perhaps physical protection, but otherwise do not add much value (or are expected to not add much value) in a child’s life (because those without a father are at no distinct disadvantage).

    Certainly the New York Times presented Ops Eds that support all parts of this underlying assumption and other that do not because there are always progressive thinkers. However, one Op-Ed, I was nearly paraphrasing in the assumption as they claim
    “Fathers provide two specific emotional needs for which Mom, try as she may, cannot completely compensate.
    First, fathers provide a sense of security. Unfortunately, some fathers have used their superior physical strength and their booming voice to intimidate rather than to protect.
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      Jun 16 2013: I will repost a part of a comment I recently made because I see it as applying to the points you have made.

      Many of the comments here, as is the case with the Op-Ed pieces,have been presented from the perspective, of fathers, but I will suggest that men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the moderen family. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner.

      Perhaps we have narrowed our understanding of what a family is too greatly, and in doing so have forgotten the supportive roles we once found value in.
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    Jun 16 2013: Happy Father's Day to all the fathers!!
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      Jun 16 2013: Thank you, but one of the points I was going to make in my closing statement, but will add here, is that men are more than just fathers. Many of the comments here have been presented from that perspective, as was the Op-Ed pieces, But I will suggest that men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the moderen family. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner.
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        Jun 16 2013: VITAL is the key word. And on the fact that "men have a vital role to play as sons, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers in the modern family.. This is especially true in households with single mothers as the primary breadwinner" ; I agree with you 100%. I hope you will reach many with your closing statement. One thing that this world desperately needs is great wise men such as yourself, who can mentor the younger generation of men. The challenge is the blind spots in the young created by the extreme arrogance of the untamed ego causing them to miss out on the opportunity to collect the pearls of wisdom, offered by the seasoned man.Thank you for a great question.
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        Jun 17 2013: I think that many times the sons and brothers and uncles and grandfathers step back from taking an active role in families with a father figure.

        And there are families without other male figures except a father....growing up, that was my family.
        No uncles, or brothers, or grandfathers.

        So, now that I have my own family, and finally I have all kinds of males in it, I am trying to weave all the male figures together for the enrichment of our family. But it is tough Theodore....it is very tough.

        Your conversation has been wonderful.
        I have enjoyed reading and participating in it.
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      Jun 17 2013: Happy Father's Day to ME!
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    Jun 13 2013: Don't be a mamma's boy....Be a man! If you listen to this talk you will learn an interesting fact, that 80% of men have some form of "alexithymia." I thought this is a powerful talk, please take the time to listen to it if you are interested in this subject.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVI1Xutc_Ws

    "Joe Ehrmann has been an educator, author, activist, pastor and coach for more than 25 years. He was a college All-American athlete who played professional football for 13 years. Among numerous awards, Joe has been named "The Most Important Coach in America" for his work to transform the culture of sports."
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      Jun 13 2013: A+ speech.
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      Jun 13 2013: Theodore, what a wonderful talk.

      Alexithymia, I had not heard that word before.

      I found it interesting that he targeted sports as a way to rewire young men's thinking. His being a coach in real life gives him quite a bit of insight into the behaviors of young men in general.

      You know, as I listened to him I couldn't help but think that yes, we tell boys "be a man" "stop that crying", and at the same time, when girls cry we say "you're such a girl".
      You NEVER hear people tell girls "be a girl".

      To love and be loved. That is what it's all about.
      Life is very simple.
      We complicate things.

      So Theodore, there are only five days left of your conversation.
      When will you chime in and tell us your personal take?

      I wonder if any of the men who have read the NY Times articles and watched this video have undergone a paradigm shift?
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        Jun 17 2013: No, we never hear people tell girls "be a girl", but it is suggested to them in other ways, often more powerful than a verbal message. Barbie girls, Disney films, Hollywood, pop stars... It may seem benign in our culture, but what about others? Where not being a girl that you're expected to be may lead to persecution? Where girls are denied education and basic human rights.
        It puts things into perspective.
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      Jun 17 2013: Thank you for providing the link, Theodore.
      I may actually use some of the points from this talk in my work. What i do now and have done for quite a while is teaching work safety in construction and industry - how not to get killed in a quite dangerous conditions and not expose others to dangers. i only teach men and have heard so many stories, truly dangerous ones, about what being told to "be a man" may lead to in those professions. I always have to coach, train and shock my trainees into understanding that being or playing tough is never a good solution as it may actually lead to a serious accident.

      This is especially true when it comes to the psychosocial environment, when there are only men working, having their little bullying games with one another. Beings masculine, "being a man" is a norm in those circles and being an emotional human being is not allowed.

      The worst example of what may happen when being "masculine" is viewed as a goal is this - one of the so-called mamma's boys (as described by other men in my course group) got a job and others did not take a liking to him. They nagged him, called him names, bullied him for over a year. After a year of such masculine persecution he got to his work early, took a gun and... shot himself. I use this example to show that being a tough, masculine guy may not pay. Being professional, smart and aware will.

      Thanks for the link again, some of the thoughts expressed there will probably be of use.

      When it comes to the topic of this conversation and the purpose of men in modern families... Maybe that's not what we should be focusing on? Maybe we should just focus on being a good, smart, aware and a loving human being despite of the gender or the role given to us by the culture we live in?

      Best wishes.
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      . . 100+

      • +1
      Jun 17 2013: Wow!! This Talk is exceptional Theodore!!
      It should be front row and center at TED - today!!

      "What it means to be a man:
      1. Emotive Masculinity
      2. Relationships
      3. Commitment to a cause"
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVI1Xutc_Ws
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    Jun 12 2013: Whatever it is, it is not natural.
  • Jun 12 2013: Be a happy man truely from your heart.