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With the economic meltdown of the last several years disproportionately affecting men, and the pop culture depiction of men as sappy couch potatoes living in the shadows of their career-focused wives, many men have begun to feel disempowered and confused. Do I open the door for a woman? Give up my seat on the bus? If my spouse has a more successful career than I do, does that make me less of a man?
(The answers are yes, yes and no.)
In 2013, as we watch a slow but steady economic recovery and a president who’s secure in his duties and his masculinity, we must bring manly men back into the equation. Too many children are being raised without positive male role models — more than ever before — and they need us to step up.
Today’s kids need to encounter more men who are self confident and open-hearted with their feelings — guys who fight for marriage equality (thank you for making that cool, Obama), who help their daughters with their pigtails (and teach the boys in their lives how to tie a tie), who can change a tire and who shed a manly tear when “Grey’s Anatomy” ’s McSteamy dies.
In 2013, men — and not just fathers — will be called upon to move into this next phase of emotional development: to be sensitive and strong. We owe it to ourselves, to the younger generations, and to the powerful women and men we love.
The Obama approach has proven effective with my daughter. I’m strict with her about studying when she’s with me, encouraging each small step of success with hugs and high-fives. As she grows more confident in her learning, she wants to take on more and more of the bat mitzvah service on her own. And the only way she can do that is by applying herself, even when she’s not with me.
Eric Elkins blogs about being a single parent at datingdad.com. He owns the social media consulting agency WideFoc.us, and is co-founder of E-3 Events, a community organization that produces Jewish arts and culture events. His first young adult novel is “Ray, reflected.” (Ghost Road Press 2007)