If I ever get into a debate with Dave, I'd better be stone cold sober with about a weeks worth of sleep behind me. In this post, Dave skewers Raphael so neatly, that Raphael still doesn't know he lost the debate before it began.
That being said, I'm going to wade in here. Raphael makes the causal correlation that feminism and its resulting liberation of women, has resulted in the decline of the traditional family unit. I can see that link, and even agree with the causal theorizing. But it is a major error to place blame or fault at the feet of the feminist movement.
It isn't the fault of feminists, the "Them" of Raphael's argument, that women desiring to enter the workforce coincides with a declining birth rate. Its "Our" fault as society in that we place a higher value on paid employment than staying home and raising kids. We placed such emphasis on the "breadwinner" that the mother raising the children was deemed second best, menial labour, not real work worthy of a real man. Is it any wonder that women wanted the freedom to enter the workforce?
If anyone destroyed the "traditional family" it was the men who praised the work they did while looking down at the work that women did as mothers. I fully agree that society would benefit if more families had one parent that stayed at home. Long-time readers know that this is my situation; my wife stays home and is raising our kids. However, my role as "breadwinner" is a support role. To provide the economic security for my wife to do the more important job of parenting. While my role is important, its value is in how much financial freedom my wife has to be a mother.
Lets face it, when I die, no one is going to remember how hard I worked, or how well I did my job. My career and whatever legacy it is making will die with me. I am just one cog in an economic machine where I can be easily swapped out when my value to my employer declines. But my kids can only truly have one mother, and one father. As parents we are not so easily replaced. And how we parent our kids will create an enduring legacy in how our kids grow up and enter society on their own, and start their own families. They are my epitaph, a living testament to the person I am and strive to be. And the lions share of the work done moulding my sons will have been done by my wife, and the greater credit is and will be hers.
It is not right or fair to assume that the woman must do the child raising. But we can choose to start celebrating the parent, and to raise in esteem those that do make parenting their career choice. If we do that, maybe more men as well as women will choose to stay home and focus on parenting. And if you believe in the value of the stay-at-home parent, isn't that truly what its all about?