Common to whom? (part 2)

(continued from previous post)

In truth, Mr. Rosemond had me up to the point that the man comes home wanting only to spend time with his wife. I can’t think of anyone, past or present, for whom this was or is the case, with or without children. If by “spend time with his wife” Mr. Rosemond meant a roll in the hay and falling asleep, he got it right some of the time for some of the people, but it’s still a pretty big stretch for a lot of folks. Both my parents worked full time, and my dad also worked evening jobs for the additional income; he often didn’t come home until very late at night. My partner’s dad traveled a lot and was often gone for weeks or even months at a stretch. Grandpa worked the second of two twelve-hour factory shifts, so he came home, ate breakfast, and went to sleep for the day. He got up when the kids came home from school, ate dinner with the family, and went back to work.

Mr. Rosemond continues by asserting that men used to know that the way to be a good father was to be a good husband, and they “came home from work not to…play with their children, but to catch up with their wives.” No doubt there have been people who have come home from work wanting nothing more than to spend time with a partner, but I have neither experience nor knowledge of them. The vast majority of people have come home from work wanting only something to eat and then some form of relaxation that distracts them from their responsibilities, family included. In my grandparent’s day, the newspaper or radio provided suitable distraction; for my parents it was television, and now the internet and video games also fill that role. Sex has always been a distraction; again, perhaps that’s what Mr. Rosemond meant by “catch up with their wives.”

He makes an excellent point that most parents find it difficult to set aside their domestic business partnership (child rearing and household management) in order to nurture their personal relationship, which got them into the domestic business in the first place. He further notes that a stay-at-home parent’s primary need is for quality time with a partner, and that this need is largely ignored by both parents and society in general. Unfortunately, he wraps these invaluable insights in a nebulous collection of near-blame: parents don’t realize that they need to maintain their personal connection, men because they are focused on being dads and women because they are glad to have a break from child care; children don’t realize that they are best served by parents who maintain a strong personal connection. The latter is particularly vague: “…if they knew the difference, [kids] would prefer that Mom and Dad spent that time together…but they don’t know the difference….” This might have been a very strong argument if only Mr. Rosemond had clarified between what the kids should, but don’t, know the difference. As it stands, it is puzzling and incomplete.

(continued in next posting)

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