Skip to comments.When men turn clucky
Posted on 01/15/2005 12:00:08 PM PST by qam1
It reportedly split Brad and Jennifer - he wanted a baby and she didn't. Cosima Marriner reports on the male push for parenthood.
If you believe the pages and pages of newsprint that have been devoted to the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston split, it would seem their marriage crumbled in the face of the career-versus-kids dilemma. The way the gossip magazines tell it, the 41-year-old Hollywood hunk just wanted to be a dad, but his glamorous 35-year-old wife was more interested in being a movie star.
Of course no outsider knows what causes a relationship to end - least of all when it involves a celebrity couple - but the Brad and Jen bust-up has opened up a new frontier in the work and family debate.
Is Pitt the poster boy for a new generation of clucky men who are keen to start a family, but can't convince their partner to press pause on her career for babies? Or is the pitter-patter of little feet still heard loudest by women?
Men today want to be more involved fathers than previous generations, and develop close bonds with their children like those women have traditionally enjoyed.
"More men these days define fatherhood in terms of being involved, care-taking, a nurturing father - rather than just bringing home the bacon," says Michael Flood, a research fellow at the Australia Institute. "Gone are the days of fathers being emotionally remote, the disciplinarian."
Neer Korn, a director of the social trends research company Heartbeat Trends, believes men have realised the folly of devoting themselves to their employer at the expense of their family. They've watched their own fathers invest all their time and energy in a job, only to find themselves retrenched at 50 and a stranger to their families.
"Loyalty to work is dead," Korn says. "Increasingly people are recognising what's really important is having children."
The editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, Mia Freedman, agrees, noting that many men are reassessing what makes a successful life. She is aware of an expanding group of men married to high-powered career women and happy to be the partner who stays home and looks after the babies.
"There is definitely a new breed of men who do want to step off the career track and experience a different lifestyle," she says.
But at the same time, women are growing more attached to their careers. As the former Microsoft Australia boss and author of Fathertime, Daniel Petre, puts it: "The man is saying, 'I feel like having kids', and the woman is saying: 'Yeah, and who is going to give up their career?' "
Although most women still want to have children, it's not the priority it once was. Parenting often now comes second to personal aspirations, according to Anne Hollonds, from Relationships Australia.
"In the past you would find a relationship and build your life around that," she says. "Relationships now need to enhance whatever your chosen goals are for yourself."
Not every woman dreams of having a child. "Not every woman wants to give up her life and drop everything when the man decides his sperm is ready for action," Freedman says..
Women are increasingly wary of the sacrifices and compromises having a family entails. A 2003 survey of university students in Melbourne revealed women feared becoming a mother would limit their career, income and lifestyle.
"They were worried about being the housekeeper like their mother was," Flood explains. "The traditional trade-off where the man is the breadwinner and the woman stays at home with the kids is less attractive to a growing number of women."
Petre blames employers for the perception that work and family don't mix. "Most companies don't allow women to have careers and have children."
He tells the story of the chief executive who didn't want to let women returning from maternity leave work part-time. Petre spent some time trying to convince this person such a move would benefit the firm, to which the executive eventually responded: "If we let women do that, then men might want to do it as well."
The Sydney MP and Labor's spokeswoman on work and family issues, Tanya Plibersek, says companies need to strive to provide extra maternity leave and flexible working conditions.
"I certainly do think women have children with the assumption that there will be negative consequences in their professional lives," says Plibersek, who is expecting her second child next month.
Meanwhile, men are prone to starry-eyed visions of parenthood. Research has shown they tend to overestimate the positive aspects of having children and underestimate the negative.
"Among young men there are certain kinds of idealised notions of pregnancy and parenthood," Flood says. "Lots of men do face a very real shock when they become fathers in the sense it is very hard work."
And women doubt the burden will be shared equally. Generation X men (those born between 1965 and 1979) surveyed last year described themselves as willing helpers, but still considered domestic management the province of their partners.
"Most men talk about their commitment to shared parenting and domestic work, but when it comes to the crunch, they're still doing less than their partners," Flood says.
Hollonds is certain there are men out there who, like Pitt, are having difficulty finding a woman with whom they can start a family. Career issues aside, she says this is partly due to the unrealistic expectations of both sexes.
Women, particularly, have become more picky when choosing a mate, as they no longer need to rely on a man to support them. There is a tendency for women to want to "marry up" - which cuts out many men who may make good fathers. "There is more selectivity and higher expectations, so this means some men and women may miss out on having a child," Hollonds says.
Remaining childless is not often a conscious choice, Hollonds believes. "Some women find it hard to find the right time to have children ... They put it off, put it off, until they find they've left it too long. It's not making a decision, it's circumstances."
But for every Jennifer Aniston who holds off starting a family, there are a thousand Gwyneth Paltrows - women who decide that the career must take a back seat for a while. The 32-year-old Paltrow - Pitt's ex-girlfriend - is taking only minor roles to spend time with her daughter, Apple, who was born in May.
Korn argues that having children remains a mutual desire of both sexes. He says that by 30, men and women want to have achieved at least two out of three things - a home, a career, a partner. The assumption is that children will follow. "For people in their mid-to-late 30s, having children really is their priority," Korn says.
And despite all the agonising over sacrifices and timing, it is still women who instigate starting a family.
"I've never met a man who's said 'I'm absolutely ready, let's go,' " Freedman says. "It's usually the woman. Women generally push life to its next stage - moving in, getting engaged, marriage, having kids. Men are much more cruisy."
Flood agrees. "Women are more socialised to reflect on parenting relationships and their future in terms of being a mother. Young men reflect much more on work and having sex with as many supermodels as possible."
Women are acutely aware their breeding years are limited, whereas men feel no such sense of urgency. "We're on a deadline," Freedman says. "Look at Rupert Murdoch - men can have three different families in their life. Some women miss out on having one."
Without the same biological pressure, Flood says men generally become fathers by default.
Paul Wade is a case in point. About to become a father for the first time, Wade, 34, had not thought a lot about having children until his wife, Greta, pushed the point.
"The interest in having kids was more with Greta. It's not something I specifically did or did not want to do. It's something I never thought about in my life," he admits. "Blokes tend to be distracted by other things."
But having spent a lot of time with his wife's child from a previous relationship, Wade feels ready to become a father. "I found I could actually build a relationship with someone of that age."
The strength of his relationship with his wife also convinced Wade he could throw children into the mix. "I was confident we'd spent enough time together to bring kids up without the relationship falling apart."
A confidence which maybe Brad and Jen lacked.
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If Brad Pitt is clucky....I will volunteer to have his babies!
"Clucky"? Is this a common expression? I've never heard it before. I can make a guess of the meaning based on the content of the story, but am I out of touch for not having heard this expression before?
I never liked Jennifer Anniston. Plastic, shallow, bad actress with a foofy haircut.
Also, I bet Brad Pitt could find 100,000 women that would immediately roll over on their back and put their feet in the air if he said he wanted to have a baby.
I guess it's a common expression in Australia
Clucky : Feeling broody or maternal
why doesnt he go out and just BUY one like nicole kidman and her freak ex did.
That's lucky not clucky
But, as a man ages, he no longer feels the need to sleep with so many supermodels, and begins to cut back in this area.
I heard and used both "clucky" and "setty" in Idaho in the 1960s referring to hens that lay their given number of eggs, and then want to sit and brood them, regardless of whether there are still any eggs to sit on or not. They would not lay any more eggs. A couple of days in a small coop with a wire floor broke them of that instinct, and then they would start laying eggs again.
Personally, I couldn't find any of what they do in Hollywierd at all interesting. Overpaid spoiled liberals. Glad one is unable to reproduce just now. Too many of them peeing in the gene pool.
Personally, I think the story that Pitt is feeling clucky is a cover story for the real issue, whatever it is. [And I have my own ideas about what "it" is, too.]
Speak for yourself. I am 45 and I'll sleep with any supermodels that will have me. :)
Why doesn't Brad just get himself another girlyman and adopt.
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"Loyalty to work is dead," Korn says. "Increasingly people are recognising what's really important is having children."
Whether this is about movie stars or just plain folk, it's nice to see the pendulum swinging back the other way, isn't it?
I married my DH because he was a SUPERB father to his son, who was three when we first met. (His career-driven girlfriend bailed on him after he convinced her not to abort; he kept the kid. This happened to his brother, too.) He made it clear that they were a Package Deal and that they BOTH had to fall in love with me, or all bets were off. He didn't let me meet his son until after we had dated for close to eight months.
Now that, my friends, is sex appeal in my book. Never have really met another man like him, except his brother. Needless to say, they have a terrific Mother whom I respect and adore, too! I'm extremely blessed to have been welcomed into an awesome family full of loving and responsible people. In this case, they really do do it "for the children." I have 15 neices and nephews; our lives really are all about the kids, and the first three (including ours) are ready to finally fly the coop and head for college. :)
Well said, Diana!
Thanks, Tax-Chick! Is it Happy Hour yet? We need to toast the fact that there are still a few decent men left on this planet, LOL! Actually, I suspect that their number is legion, but get lost in the "pc-ness" of our current times. :(
People should thoroughly discuss having (or not having) kids *before* they get married. Duh.
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