Fatherhood Discussion Guide

Fatherhood Discussion, by Mark Newcom

1. How do you believe most people define “traditional fatherhood”? What does a traditional father look like and how does a traditional father behave?

2. When Mark first became a father, in what ways did he match the image of a traditional father? In what ways did he not?

3. Both Joy’s father (a high school teacher) and Mark’s father (an engineer for John Deere) figure predominantly in a few of the couple’s most trying times. Describe your impression of each of Stross’ grandfathers. How do you feel their influence shaped the young family’s lives?

4. When faced with the initial dilemma of finding childcare, Mark and Joy admitted to each other a reluctance to have a man fulfilling that role. What do you believe was the source of that reluctance? Do you identify with those feelings? If so, how?

5. In what ways do you think Mark and Joy’s childcare catastrophe prepared them for future childcare choices regarding Stross and Skye?

6. Do you think it’s significant that three male family members stepped forward to serve as temporary care providers (one week each) during Mark and Joy’s time of renewed search? How?

7. What qualities displayed by Mark indicated he was equipped to become Stross’ primary care provider? What qualities displayed by Joy indicated she was equipped to become Stross’ primary care provider?

8. Why do you think Joy believed Mark was more qualified than she was to care for their son?

9. How do you believe most people define a “Mr. Mom”? What does a Mr. Mom look like and how does he behave?

10. Mark is described as experiencing a sense of freedom after it was decided he would assume the role of Stross’ primary care provider. What do you believe served as the source of those feelings? What factors further encouraged those feelings?

11. Describe how Mark and Joy’s role reversal affected their marital relationship.

12. Identify the personal struggles Mark still had to face in his new role as Stross’ primary care provider—the time Joy describes when Mark’s “days were his own.”

13. How does American society regard stay-at-home parents of either gender? Identify the different types of support available to stay-at-home moms when compared to stay-at-home dads.

14. Mark and Joy were facing their first childcare decisions in 1991. If they were having their first child now—in 2007 or 2008—how might their conversations and choices be different? Why?

15. What do you believe children gain from having a father as their primary care provider rather than a mother? What might be some drawbacks?

16. Stross had Mark at home during his earliest developmental milestones while Skye had Joy at home during his. How might that affect each son’s regard for his father?

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