In recent years, some gender norms have crumbled, while others have held steadfast. What does it mean to be a father, or to parent boys and young men, in the 21st century?

“A lot of things have happened that have gotten us to this point of discussion, from the emergence of #MeToo to Donald Trump in the White House,” says Aaron Gouvei, author of Raising Boys to Be Good Men (Skyhorse, June). “Intrinsic in the conversation about feminism is how we talk about boys, masculinity, and fatherhood.”

Here, we look at parenting titles that address norms of masculinity and definitions of fatherhood in the current cultural moment.

A Better Man

Michael Ian Black. Algonquin, May

Building on the discussion generated by his viral 2018 New York Times op-ed, “The Boys Are Not All Right,” comedian and actor Black rejects the term “toxic masculinity” and focuses on love, touch, and emotional intelligence in this work that takes the form of a letter to his teenage son before he heads to college.

Lost and Found

Paul Florsheim and David Moore. Oxford Univ., Feb.

Florsheim, a professor of public health at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and Moore, a professor of psychology at the University of Puget Sound, cull their interviews with 1,000 unwed parents, conducted before and after their children were born, to focus on the struggles of 20 young fathers. The authors’ goal is twofold: to allow the young men to share, in their own words, the challenges they face as fathers, and to outline strategies to help them remain involved with their co-parents and children.

The New One

Mike Birbiglia, with J. Hope Stein. Grand Central, May

This memoir started as a set Birbiglia performed at a film festival in 2016 and grew into a Broadway show and Netflix special. With additional material drawn from Birbiglia’s journals and interspersed with short poems by Stein, his wife, the work provides a lighthearted and uncomfortable portrait of fatherhood. 

Raising Boys to Be Good Men

Aaron Gouveia. Skyhorse, June

Daddy Files blogger Gouveia confronts the gender binary, toxic masculinity, consent and privilege, and more, with a 38-point plan for fathers that aims to break down the systemic issues he identifies. He’s written on parenthood for TimeParents, and other outlets, and his 2018 tweet about his five-year-old son being bullied at school for wearing nail polish went viral.   

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