Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
brad
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

4 comments ↓

#1 Your Hot SIL (not Meryl, you doofus) on 02.16.09 at 10:00 pm

Now that I no longer have to share a bathroom with him, I can say it.

MY BROTHER IS AWESOME.

Thank you.

#2 Heather on 02.17.09 at 2:59 pm

Your husband rocks! My significant other has said almost the exact same things about who should be appointed next to the Supreme Court. We have a lot of homosexual friends and it’s a hot-button topic for both of us. Please thank your husband for sharing his views. It’s nice to hear another male share these values. For whatever reason, we don’t see that a lot. Whether it’s a macho thing, or something else, it’s just too bad.

#3 ilinap on 02.17.09 at 9:08 pm

I think I love B almost as much as I love you! Mac Daddy is in the same boat: white dude, midwestern roots, heavily male and conservative dominated industry. He finds himself staying quiet a lot, which eats him up because he doesn’t want his lack of confrontation to equal condoning some of the crap he hears. I have a hunch your boys will turn out just great.

#4 Midwest Mom on 02.26.09 at 3:43 pm

I am absolutely printing this out for my husband so he knows he’s not alone.

We have had conversation after conversation about “work people” who have no qualms about airing their views (I was going to say ‘spouting’, but that wouldn’t be fair-handed, would it?). He uses the same silence tack that your husband does. He’s right; it sends the message.

We’re raising two boys in semi-rural Illinois, so there is a lot of gun-lovin’ closed-mindedness that they’re exposed to, especially at school. But hubby and I do our best to explain our beliefs and why we believe them. As our boys grow, we want them to make judgments that are grounded in respect for other human beings. We know we won’t agree on *everything*. But if we can even just pass on the underpinnings — Justice, Respect, Tolerance, Awareness — we will have done well.

Thanks for presenting this perspective. Great post.
- Julia

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