Aaron Gouveia calls out the NYC moms who claim they want dads involved in the PTA, but criticize the way they run it.
“Men need to step up and be more involved in the lives of their children…but not too involved.”
That’s the mixed message a lot of dads face when they attend mommy-dominated playgroups, athletic events and of course PTA meetings. It’s the last item that’s drawn the ire of Jezebel columnist Doug Barry, as he comments on a New York Times article that finds more and more of the Big Apple’s PTA groups are led by men — and how that’s rubbing some of the women the wrong way.
We all know women have long been the primary caretakers of children. That means the PTA has been the realm of mothers for as long as the PTA has existed. But due to a variety of factors — job loss, underemployment, women earning more college degrees than men, etc — the landscape is changing. And while some of that change is occurring because men are out of work, there is also a fundamental shift in priorities and philosophy among the dad ranks. More men than ever are buying into shared parenting and taking responsibility for tasks that used to be considered “mom jobs.” That includes membership in the PTA, complete with coveted leadership positions. So finally — after far too many years — men have heard the clarion call for more fatherly involvement and they’re taking it seriously. By all accounts this is a great thing.
Except it’s not. At least according to some mothers who are used to things done a certain way.
These people are upset about men taking things too seriously and running the PTA like a small business. Because God forbid these men — many of whom are/were business leaders — apply their valuable experience to an organization that could benefit from an increased amount of professionalism. I guess that’s why Barry feels the need to take unnecessary potshots at dads such as “As more women earn advanced degrees and tackle high-powered, time-consuming jobs, and more recession-dazed men two-step around their homes to the slow drone of Sportscenter, dads are taking a more active interest in their children’s education, which in New York includes turning the school PTAs into mini-nonprofit organizations capable of strong-arming public officials for new swing sets or baking cupcakes for a bake sale with the efficiency of an outsourced factory.” Because, you know, all men who are interested in their kids must feel that way because they’re out of work and have nothing better to do. And we’re all zombies from the Walking Dead drooling all over ourselves while we watch SportsCenter for the 11th time that morning while we ignore our children.
And then there’s this gem “Fathers like 43-year-old Juan Brea — who insists that he’s “not into baking” as if one of his testicles would disappear if he ever donned an apron — are at the vanguard of male-led PTAs, which, according to Brea, run like small business, something he knows a thing or two about since by day he is the chief operating officer at a small nonprofit.” So the guy doesn’t bake. Why is that a bad thing? If the event requires someone skilled at baking and poor Juan can’t cook well, why on Earth would he be designated the baker? It doesn’t make sense. But you know what does make sense? Having a CEO run things. And that’s what Juan is doing. Successfully I might add.
I’m so tired of people criticizing men for not stepping up, but then telling them they’re doing it wrong when they do. Just because these mothers are used to things a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Or the most effective way. More women than ever are in the workforce, the wage gap is closing and the number of female executives is increasing. And that’s a great thing, because women bring just as much insight, dedication and professionalism to the workplace as men. Honestly, women have gotten the short end of the stick for so long in the business world that it surprises (and saddens) me to hear them essentially doing the same thing to men on the home front.
Criticizing men for coming into their own and taking an active role in the PTA is incredibly bad form. Not to mention more than a little hypocritical. Yet it’s this subtle (and often not-so-subtle) message from some mothers of “Get more involved, but know your place” that turns a lot of guys off and stops them from being more involved.
Ladies, for years you called us out for being absent. And you were right. So here we are, just like you asked. So stop cutting us off at the knees.
Photo Courtesy of dave_mcmt