Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Times change -- for the better

This morning while at physical therapy (for a wicked case of plantar faciitis), I lay behind a curtain with hot wraps on my foot and listened to a familiar conversation.

My physical therapist has recently learned that she and her husband are expecting their first child, and the patient on the other side of the curtain, parent of a 20 month old little girl, was dishing out typical advice. The conversation ranged from car seats and cribs, to diaper bags and what should be packed in them.

It was a conversation I've heard dozens, if not hundreds of times before, as those who are already parents pass on wisdom to the expecting. The only thing that made this different, was that the parent with helpful hints about diaper bags was male -- a father. Moreover, it was clear from his conversation that he often spoke of these issues with other young fathers. He told our therapist that he and his friends joked about their diaper bags being their "man purse."

Fathers have always talked about their children. But this was the first time that I had heard a father dish out the familiar advice about the nitty-gritty details of car seats and dirty diapers to an expecting parent.

As a sociologist who often writes about family, I was happy to mark this conversation as a sign that fathers are becoming more involved in the routine and daily care and nurturance of children.

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