Perhaps in Flannery O’Connor’s time, a good man was hard to find– because let’s face it in all generations prior to mine, men were mainly primed to be good providers. But in the 21st century, where women can provide for themselves, find a sperm donor, and live a single life without any of the shame or hardship once associated with those that remained unmarried, men have really had to step it up. So, with the pressure now on for GenX guys and all those that follow to be much more than just good providers like their fathers, or their fathers’ fathers, here are 3 ways I see plenty of men rising to the occasion:
1. Caring Fathers– Unlike the men of their father’s generation or anyone before then, today’s men are expected to be involved fathers, sharing in all of the child-rearing responsibilities. Indeed, today’s dads can be seen everywhere changing diapers, pushing strollers, taking their daughters to ballet class, making time to chaperone field trips, attend parent-teacher conferences and school functions, etc. And, even when the marriage fails, I see my male clients step up to the plate, trying their best to maximize their time with their children and support them financially to the best of their ability. Does that mean I never encounter dead-beat dads? Of course not, but my point is that after 17 years in the business of helping families through a divorce, I have found dead-beat/absent fathers to be an incredibly rare minority.
2. Supportive Husbands– Contrary to what was expected of men of prior times, today’s man is not just expected to provide financially for the family and keep it in his pants, but he’s expected to also know how to be an emotional support to his life partner. Despite everything they have learned as boys to not show too much emotion, we expect them to come home and open up their hearts and minds to further develop a deep emotional bond that we so long for with our partners, and guess what? Most of them actually try– they really do try, at least to the best of their ability, and this is where it is important to remember that saying you cannot expect a fish to climb a tree.
3. Good Role Models– Throughout my entire life, I have been blessed with incredible male role models/mentors, and I know from my other female peers that I am not alone. With such few women making it to the top (less than 15% of us make it to the CEO/partner level) who do you think is actually mentoring those of us that make it? 9 out of 10 times, it is men. Men like legendary Robert Morgenthau, who wrote my letters of recommendation to college after my internship at the Manhattan D.A.’s office. Men like Father Schall, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown University, who was my favorite advisor. Men in all the prominent firms that I worked at for over 8 years in the DC Area, who guided me through the various stages of my 17 year legal career.
Now, are any of the men I have come to love and admire throughout the years perfect? Of course not– and neither are any of the women I have come across the last four decades. We are all flawed, and we have all made big mistakes at some points along the way. But actually the biggest mistake I see today is predominantly the belief among women of the 21st century that a good man is hard to find. If this really is the mindset among today’s modern women, then Houston we really have a problem.
Life is not meant to be lived alone, and men are not just sperm donors that we need to have babies. Men have certain strengths that we don’t have, just as we bring qualities into their lives that otherwise would not exist without us. They are the ying to our yang, and together with the right life partner, we learn to achieve balance. Will it be perfect all the time? Of course not– but don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.
So, next time you hear someone say or you find yourself thinking that a good man is hard to find, I hope you will encourage that person or yourself to stop and take a good look around. There are plenty of good men out there– good role models, caring dads and loving husbands are everywhere– and I for one, am eternally indebted to them.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.