The Bog of Lost Scholars

February 16, 2005

The Evils of Working Dads?

Filed under: People, Culture, and Society — castiron @ 6:02 pm

Nine times out of ten, when I read an article about the problems of the American family, someone will mention mothers who work outside the home.

How come no one mentions fathers who work outside the home?

Especially when we have so many commentators talking about the importance of fathers and how kids need their father in their life. Um, if Dad’s working a job that keeps him out of the house nine hours a day plus commuting time, and the kids are just seeing him on weekends (and possibly not even that, if he works a lot of overtime), seems to me that Dad is not a primary influence in these kids’ lives.

One hundred years ago, my forefathers worked on family property, or at worst a five-minute’s walk from home; they saw their kids, worked with their kids, knew what was going on with their kids. The children’s books I read that are set around that era? Same thing; Dad works on the farm or at a nearby store, and he’s home for lunch every day. Yes, sometimes dads had to be absent for economic reasons, but it was always portrayed as a regrettable or sub-optimal scenario, not The Way Things Should Ideally Be.

Now we have long commutes, overtime, and workplaces that are utterly segregated from children’s spaces. And we certainly have many individual fathers who don’t like the situation…but we don’t have pundits talking about how it harms the family. Why not? Aren’t fathers as important to kids as mothers?

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