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Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?
And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.

Who must know the way to make a proper home,
A quiet home, a kosher home?
Who must raise the family and run the home,
So Papa’s free to read the holy books?
The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!
~“Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof

Tradition is a funny thing. Some traditions are unique to a family or a culture, and some are universal. Over years and generations, customs change, sometimes morphing into something else altogether. Lately, I’ve been pondering traditions that have become seemingly obsolete in today’s culture: family dinner, Sunday brunch, date night. At the top of the list are gender roles.

Here’s the deal: while talking to an acquaintance the other night, I was startled to hear him note that in the several years he spent as a single in Atlanta, he never once had to ask a woman out. Even his wife was the first one to ask him out. After I chided him, he admitted he would have asked women on dates, but simply never got the chance. They always beat him to the punch. Based on traditional gender roles, there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

But what exactly are the traditional gender roles?

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Singleness is not a disease to be cured; it is a stage of life to be enjoyed. Too often, we try to rush through it.”

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