The premise of an NPR column this past week was that men will take on more caretaking responsibilities when society both expects it and demands it. Namely, when the pediatrician, teacher, and other touchpoints in a parent's world start treating men as fully capable and involved fathers. Men will then feel society's stare of judgment and will be shamed, or at least lulled, into changing their ways.
I enjoyed the author's perspective and would love to embrace this "new" society but I'm not sure I can agree with the conclusion. Yes, I believe parenting roles are shifting and people are noticing but I don't think it's because president Obama is asking dads to do their fair share or because a nurse looked at Dad, not Mom, when sending instructions home. Instead, I suspect that society is changing "one individual decision at a time." Despite the lack of cultural support to do so, men (and women) are choosing differently from previous generations. Neither want to be pigeon-holed into roles that rob them of their ability to experience the bounty of parenthood whether it's pursuing a career, bonding with their children, caring for their home, or simply enjoying life.
The author challenges men to "step up" but I prefer to think a "step back" is in order. Let's engage our partners to structure our lives in a way that offers a sustainable chance at happiness for both. Imploring men to do more seems a little short-sighted given the complexity of the roles we have all assumed in recent decades.