Father Courage: What Happens When Men Put Family First

Suzanne Braun Levine, Author, Jane Isay, Editor
Suzanne Braun Levine, Author, Jane Isay, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-15-100382-2
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Can men have it all? Raised to be breadwinners and also nurturing parents, many contemporary fathers ""disappoint those they mean to impress more than either would like."" Levine has talked to fathers who are challenging ""the traditional separation of church (home) and state (paid work)"" about the rewards and frustrations of trying to co-parent. Frequently letting the men speak for themselves, she draws a convincing picture of an underground movement just waiting for the right moment to coalesce and set about the unfinished business of the women's movement: ""It is all of a piece, the entry of women into the workplace and the integration of men into the family."" Many fathers in this ""transition generation"" feel they face their difficulties alone and are surprised to find how many others are like them. From the birth experience at the hospital through the early months of parenthood and beyond, men often receive conflicting messages from society that encourage them to be supportive but not to get too closely involved in the dailiness of raising children. Women, too, are often unwilling to ""relinquish the mystical powers attributed to motherhood"" that is for many the only power they have. Levine also contends that a double standard in the workplace favors women who need to take time to be with their families but discourages men from putting family first. Writing at the ""equity frontier"" of ""family politics,"" Levine provides a useful sourcebook for would-be revolutionaries and makes an eloquent plea for more public conversation about private pressures. Agent, Michael Carlisle; 10-city tour. (Apr.)
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