Oh, Dad

SIX weeks' paternity leave in Minnesota. Babies slung to chests of the new generation of fathers. Their own jobs cut short after long service, senior dads may respond with unaccustomed hesitation in their voices when asked about careers, dress codes, ambition. What to do about the house: Will the nest ever really be empty, or should the second bath and new wing be built, in case the young adults must return? If the cultural signals for the female half of the human race change, they change for the male half, too.

No wonder Dad might look a little confused this weekend.

Go get 'em, he's supposed to say to son and daughter alike; but I'll be here in case things don't work out.

Home every evening for 25 years to eat with the kids, his vintage wardrobe dated to the start of tuition payments, he finds it hard to imagine himself one of the oppressor gender that is making his daughter's prospects miserable. Maybe so.

With cultural directions fainter, fathers more than ever must learn on the job - at least those who stay around.

Half the race, the marriage, the parenting.

This Father's Day, why not half the thanks?

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