Michael Lewis on the State of Modern Fatherhood and Work-Family Balance

Michael Lewis may be the best non-fiction writer working today.  From his business-related books (Boomerang, Liar’s Poker, The Big Short) to sports-related books (Moneyball, Blind Side; both GREAT books but WAY over-rated movies), he always nails his subject with both intelligence and humor.

Michael Lewis' memoir on fatherhood, "Home Game" contains his typical wit and wisdom
Michael Lewis’ memoir on fatherhood, “Home Game” contains his typical wit and wisdom

While introducing his highly-recommended memoir, “Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood”, Lewis writes:

“This book is a snapshot of what I assume will one day be looked back upon as a kind of Dark Age of Fatherhood.  Obviously, we’re in the midst of some long unhappy transition between the model of fatherhood practiced by my father and some ideal model, approved by all, to be practiced with ease by the fathers of the future.

But for now, there’s an unsettling absence of universal, or even local, standards of behavior. Within a few miles of my house I can find perfectly sane men and women who regard me as a Neanderthal who should do more to help my poor wife with the kids, and just shut up about it.  But I can also find other sane men and women who view me as a Truly Modern Man and marvel aloud at my ability to be both breadwinner and domestic dervish – doer of approximately 31.5 percent of all parenting.

The absence of standards is the social equivalent of the absence of an acknowledged fair price for a good in a marketplace.  At best, it leads to haggling; at worst, to market failure.”

I agree that this is an odd time to be a father.  There is no acknowledged one best way, which leads us all on individual journeys appropriate for our situations.  This makes it harder to share experiences, learn from each other and develop fatherhood networks.  But it also makes the need to share and discuss these issues more important than ever.  That’s part of why I write the blog, and part of why, I guess, you read it.  Thanks.

Oh, on a blog-related note, we are almost half-way to my goal of 100 email/twitter/wordpress followers of the FathersWorkandFamily blog.  For each new follower, I am donating $2 to the National Fatherhood Initiative, and if we reach 100, I will double the total to $400.  Please see this for more details.  Please sign up and spread the word!

What are your thoughts about Michael Lewis’ passage, and about the expectations of fatherhood?  Let’s discuss in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Michael Lewis on the State of Modern Fatherhood and Work-Family Balance

  1. I’d hope to think the “dark ages of fatherhood” are long since past us. I agree with the author that there are inconsistent standards and the epidemic of the absent father is clearly upsetting, but for those of us who are participating I think we do more than our forefathers (pun intended). Back in February my son’s school had a flood and had to close for 6 days. My wife and I divided up the days that one of us would have to be home with him so that each of us would get a few of days with him and we’d both only have to take a few vacation days each. When I was telling an older coworker of mine about our situation and the plan, she said her husband never would have participated in a plan like that and the situation would have been entirely her problem to deal with. That’s just one example but I think it exemplifies a mentality that is disappearing. Also, they make camo-print diaper bags now…if that’s not a sign of change i don’t know what is.

  2. I agree. I also think it is a great opportunity for men to have relationships with their children that are far more deep and meaningful than those more typical of past generations.

    In fact, I’d venture to guess it also results in happier (albeit possibly more stressed) marriages when the couple are true co-parents and not “mom in charge” and “dad as an ocassional reluctant helper”.

    and, to your last point- For me, I was never sure why one needed a diaper bag instead of just a good backpack with many pockets!

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