Everyone has a different idea of family. Some definitions of family don’t include children. For many, they do, though often the time just isn’t quite right. The careful considerations that go into the decision to have children are difficult, even for those that deeply desire them. And no matter the familial vision, being a good dad – or a good man – should be the ideal goal. However at this point, men have to be creative in how they participate with their partners in the pre-dad phase.
Male contraceptives are limited to short-term options like condoms with unacceptable failure rates, or permanent options such as a vasectomy. It’s hard to be a good man and participate meaningfully in the planning, and that’s before we even get to being a good dad. Male Contraceptive Initiative is a pro-family organization that supports men and women having the ability to choose if and when to have a family.
And personally, the vision of my family includes at least one child.
My son Theodore was born in November.
He’s a healthy little chunkster, who I love watching grow and change every day. I understand that some might find a touch of irony in the fact that my family, who works for new contraceptive options, recently welcomed a son into the world. However, the mission of MCI isn’t to simply reduce the number of births in the world, it’s to ensure that people have the tools to make their own choices around a family.
And I’m supportive of my friends whose vision of a family doesn’t include children. I want them to be able to have the tools they need to achieve their ideal family unit – no matter the form.
Unintended pregnancy rates are sky high – over 50% in the US alone. And men simply don’t have the options to participate in this conversation equitably. By developing new male options, we increase the ability of men to be good partners. Then, on their terms and those of their family – good dads if they so choose.
Being a good dad will mean teaching as much as I learn.
We’re still a long way away from male methods being on the market. In fact, my son will likely be one of the first men that can use new options.
As such, his opinions and those of his peers are going to be important in making products for men. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s users of male contraception, and the world is moving quickly. Their perceptions of what it means to be participatory, and what equitable options for contraception look like may be different that what exists today.
And so I’m hopeful that my son will have more options than I have had. I’m hopeful that the world of contraception will be choice-maximized. That new types for men and women will allow families to design their own futures. And while I teach my son to be a good man, he’ll teach me about being a good dad.