So what is the purpose of men in modern families? We’re approaching the holiday that celebrates dads, but do fathers bring anything unique to the table? asks Room for Debate on June 3rd. The very wording of the question is disturbing and insulting to fathers, in much the same way it would be were the same question have been asked about mothers. The query is based on a statistic presented in What Are Fathers For?, which is that in nearly half of American households with children it is now mothers who are the breadwinners. Meaning what exactly? That fathering and mothering is only about paying the family bills?

Why would anyone interpret this economic reality to mean that fathers therefore would diminish in importance to those families simply because they may no longer be the primary bread winners? It is a discriminatory and sexist statement, as it represents at its core the battle for identity that women who are stay-at-home mothers have been fighting for centuries – in essence that simply because they don’t earn traditional salaries does not mean their importance in their families isn’t equal to that of breadwinning fathers.

How unfortunate for men and women that we are still not defined by our entire selves – the working one, the one who is a friend, a mother, a father, the volunteer one, the creative one, the intellectual one…the entire person – rather than how the outside world perceives us in relationship to the financial contribution to our families. 

While it might be a victory for women that so many of them are working and have earning power, it should not be at the expense of men and fathers, any more than it is right that men should succeed economically at the expense of women.

But you can join the debate on Room for Debate if you wish and comment where appropriate. As for me? I’m with W. Bradford Wilcox, who says Fathers Are Not Funglible. Nor are mothers. Amen