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Sunday, February 02, 2003

Post-Alphas

As frequently happens, I’ve fallen behind in my blog surfing. Fortunately, my wife has been doing some filling in for me. I’ve gotten her hooked on following some of the blogs on my roll—one of which is Halley Suitt. Jill brought Halley’s post of a few days back to my attention—the one in which Halley ruminates on what she calls the “Beta Males”—the under-35 guys.

Halley remarks on how the younger guys are moving away from the male obsession with work that typified my generation. The new guys tend to be true partners with their mates and seek to strike a healthy work/life balance.

I don’t think I’d call’em Betas, though. I prefer to think of them as post-Alphas. The old Alphas are on their way into the dustbin of history. These heads-on-straight new guys are the true Alphas—right now, today—we don’t have to wait for the testing.

I’ve remarked several times in this blog that Jill has been in a unique position to witness this change first-hand. She was an administrator of early-childhood education programs for some twenty-five years. Around the mid-90’s, she began noticing a huge shift in the involvement of fathers with their kids, and the sharing of the parenting responsibilities. In her family therapy practice, a frequent issue that Jill encounters with younger fathers is the attempt to achieve the work/life balance. With older fathers, the issue is far more likely to be the fallout of never having had such balance.

I’ve also remarked several times in these pages that, imho, it’s the women that are responsible for this. By waging the battle for equality in the workplace, today’s woman is much more likely to have a job and career that’s as important and significant to the family checkbook as her mate’s. In this state of affairs, the old Alpha posture just isn’t going to cut it.

I guess I was ahead of my time. I married a career woman and I never let work take an upper hand over family. I paid the price. My values were not shared by my male peers. I never got very far in the workplace—basically just got by. But my joy of participating with my family made up for it. Sure, it would be nice to be in a better financial position now—but at the cost of not having been an intimate part of my kids’ childhood? At the cost of not now being able to be close friends with them? No thanks. As the old axiom says, no one ever said these words on his deathbed: “Damn! I wish I had spent more time at the office.”

So Vive Les Hommes Nouveaux—Betas, post-Alphas, or whatever you want to call’em. And thanks to Halley for pointing them out.

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