“A Generation of Men Raised by Women”

Posted By on December 14, 2010

We really love the things Brett McKay has done over at The Art of Manliness. We’ve linked to several pieces he and his associates have written since AoM started. But today’s post absolutely takes the cake. It is so good that we’re cross-posting it here in three categories, including the Theme Articles section. Why? Because in one place, Brett McKay has gathered together the history, the philosophy, and the practicum for what we believe, promote, and seek to practice here on LAF.

We’ve been accused of wanting to force women back to a 1950s model household: husband as absent breadwinner; wife as glorified housekeeper. We’ve sought from the beginning to dispel that myth, yet it lingers. Still others insist we are trying to return to what we perceive as the “golden age” of the Victorian Era, and that idea persists despite our clearly stating that simply isn’t the case. We have no interest in glorifying stereotypes of womanhood, manhood, or the family. Our goal is to hold up a model of full-orbed family life, where the parents are equally involved in the training and preparation of children, wives are invested in the work of their husbands, husbands promote and facilitate family home business ventures, and where children are a real, vital part of the household economy. It is very difficult to get these ideas across through the medium of the Internet in dozens of posts–let alone one–but Brett McKay has done the job amply. Below is an introductory sample, but please click the link at the end to read the entire piece. It is well worth your time.

“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”

This comment, made by the Tyler Durden character in the movie Fight Club, is one of the most memorable lines of that film and has oft been repeated and discussed. It’s sticking power is surely due to the way it resonated with many men–how it so succinctly summed up their life’s experience. Products of divorced parents, single mothers, or fathers who spent more time at work than at home, these men lacked a vital example of manhood growing up. Oftentimes, not only was their dad not around, male mentors in other areas of their life were few and far between as well….

During the pre-industrial period, a man’s home was also his workplace. For the farmer and the artisan, “bring your kid to work day” was every day. Father and son worked side by side from sunrise to sunset. Fathers taught by example, not only apprenticing their sons into the trade, but subtly imparting lessons on hard work and virtue.

This relationship was disrupted by the Industrial Revolution, as fathers were forced to abandon the land and the workshop for a place on the assembly line. A clear line was drawn between the home and the workplace. Dad left the tenement in the morning and did not return for 10-12 hours at a time. As we’ve discussed previously, the result of this economic shift was that the home became thought of as the women’s sphere, a feminine refuge from the rough and dirty professional and political realm, the “man’s world.” Children spent all their time with mom, who, as the repository of virtue and morality, was expected to turn her boys into little gentlemen.

The ideal (which was always more ideal than reality) of mom at home and dad at work would persist into the 1950s. This is still a romantic standard many would like to return to, ignoring the fact that such a set-up kept dad away from his children for the bulk of the day, depriving them of his mentoring and creating a culture where his parenting role was deemed subordinate to mom’s….

During the pre-industrial period, a man’s home was also his workplace. For the farmer and the artisan, “bring your kid to work day” was every day. Father and son worked side by side from sunrise to sunset. Fathers taught by example, not only apprenticing their sons into the trade, but subtly imparting lessons on hard work and virtue.

This relationship was disrupted by the Industrial Revolution, as fathers were forced to abandon the land and the workshop for a place on the assembly line. A clear line was drawn between the home and the workplace. Dad left the tenement in the morning and did not return for 10-12 hours at a time. As we’ve discussed previously, the result of this economic shift was that the home became thought of as the women’s sphere, a feminine refuge from the rough and dirty professional and political realm, the “man’s world.” Children spent all their time with mom, who, as the repository of virtue and morality, was expected to turn her boys into little gentlemen.

The ideal (which was always more ideal than reality) of mom at home and dad at work would persist into the 1950s. This is still a romantic standard many would like to return to, ignoring the fact that such a set-up kept dad away from his children for the bulk of the day, depriving them of his mentoring and creating a culture where his parenting role was deemed subordinate to mom’s….

While it’s easy to feel nostalgic for a time period like the 1950s, I’m happy to be a dad in the modern age. I don’t work 10 hours a day at a job I hate, come home, play with my kids for a few minutes and then crack open a beer in front of the TV. My father traveled a lot and never changed a diaper. He was a great dad, but I’m loving having a much more hands-on role with our new arrival. Say what you will about the feminism movement, but I’m happy to have been “liberated” from the Industrial Revolution ideal of being the absentee bread winner. If there’s one generational difference I notice between my parents’ generation and mine, is that my generation values time over money. And not because we’re lazy either, but because we’re not willing to trade time with the people we love most for a gold watch at retirement.

Read the entire piece at http://artofmanliness.com/2010/12/13/a-generation-of-men-raised-by-women/#ixzz187r0zd3B

Recommended Resources
Child Training: A Biblical Template
Building a Godly Home, Volume 1: A Holy Vision for Family Life
Getting Your Hands Dirty: How to Teach Your Children to Love Work
Entrepreneurial Bootcamp For Christian Families DVD Collection

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About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of ten children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.

Comments

7 Responses to ““A Generation of Men Raised by Women””

  1. Gina says:

    A conversation my husband and I have from time to time is, what kinds of jobs we might steer our 11 year old son towards. There are certainly many jobs that are not condusive to Godly family life. We need to have a vision for our sons that goes beyond a good paycheck and opportunity for advancement; and look for ways to provide for a family that allows the father to be an active voice in his children’s life.
    A mentor to my husband says “The problem in our world today is Men. The answer is Godly Men.”
    Thank you Jennie, for another great article highlighting the need for Godly men!

  2. bumblebee says:

    You’re right! The Industrial Revolution and culture has played such a huge part in the way a family operates. For 9 years of our marriage, my husband and I worked together doing an in home business. I homeschooled and helped my husband as much as I could.

    I cannot stress enough how truly thankful I was to have my husband around to be there for both me and our children. It is a major contrast now that he has taken a job outside of our home, where he works ten – twelve hour shifts.

  3. ladysilver76 says:

    This part of the article sums up why my husband has been underemployed for a few years now. Sure the economy plays a part but some job offers take too much away from home time to be worth it.
    “If there’s one generational difference I notice between my parents’ generation and mine, is that my generation values time over money. And not because we’re lazy either, but because we’re not willing to trade time with the people we love most for a gold watch at retirement.”

    We unfortunately are also stuck in an area where there are no viable options for being fully self employed.

  4. Teshuav says:

    I found the article very interesting but something just didn’t sit right. One of the comments was about how you can’t replace mom too. There needs to be balance. Yes we definitely need more dad time with the family. But how? Also we need to look at the hearts of men. The men who want to be involved with their children do seem to make the time. So there is that side too.

    That goes for moms too. I firmly believe that the LORD placed the woman in the home as in scriptures. And that today’s woman in the workplace was nothing like how she worked in the home as in scriptures.

    The one comment about the man having the wife be the breadwinner is not the answer. There is something very telling in the nickname “Mr. Mom.” I have often wondered why they haven’t called the women ‘Mrs Dad”?

    The LORD placed us originally in the garden and agriculture is wonderful for the family.

    It really comes down to as Jesus said, ‘where your heart is there will be your treasure”.

  5. Hi, Teshauv! I definitely didn’t post this for the comment section. ;) Having women become the breadwinners is NOT the answer. Children absolutely must have their own mothers. On that we are in complete agreement. But the point is that children need both their parents–not only their mothers. Our culture has promoted, aided, and abetted fatherlessness, and LAF seeks to promote fathers being very much involved with their children’s upbringing. The 1950s model of dad as married to his job really isn’t the right idea. The answer is not for mom to be married to her job, either! But a return to the family/household economy is wonderful, because it allows both parents to guide and prepare their children. Hundreds of thousands of families are returning to this model (particularly in the homeschool community), and that is fantastic. But we’d love to see it more widespread as more men begin to value time with their family over the “gold watch at retirement,” as Brett put it. Thanks for commenting!

  6. KendraH says:

    My husband and I both come from broken homes, raised predominantly by our moms. We have been very blessed by strong, godly men in our spiritual walk. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched my two boisterous boys (13 and 11 now) doing something I would never have thought of in a million years. Then my husband and friends laughing about how they got in trouble for the very same thing :) ( I mean seriously, who gets excited about homemade gunpowder?) I love those DIFFERENT-THAN-WOMEN, godly men! They make a huge difference in our boys’ and girls’ lives.

  7. conservativation says:

    Bless you for this site.

    I have to take exception to the commenter who said “A mentor to my husband says “The problem in our world today is Men. The answer is Godly Men.”. That is actually the embodiment of the problem.

    The problem is not men. That the problem may not simply be women goes without saying. To say the problem is men implies something about women doesnt it? Yet, if men have been raised and taught by women, as the article explains, where is the resulting utopia?

    This dynamic has been in place now long enough that we are blind to not see it as the failure it is. The church, mine, yours, most, say indirectly, fix the man fix the world (family, marriage, etc) It is the nature of men to please women. thats why men will say that men are the problem. It earns us a pat on the head from women. That wife who posted that likely, with good intention, encouraged her husband and that mentor in that thinking. reminds me of the image I have back in the 90′s when Promise Keepers was the rage, our church van picking up the men for the journey, each and every one was guided down the driveway by his wife, who was overtly pleased he was going…..why? because her friend Susan told her that her husband went and he came back a wonderful man….in other words, he’d been fixed PER THE WIFE.

    We’ve perversely set woman as the gold standard for man.

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