Man Enough to Care, a Wayfarer Studios production in partnership with Caring Across Generations, is a five-episode miniseries that calls on millennial men to step up, step in, identify themselves as caregivers, and be part of a conversation that begins to define a new, healthy masculinity rooted in a culture of care.
The filmed roundtable discussion exploring several caregiving themes related to masculinity is led by actor and director Justin Baldoni (Jane the Virgin, Clouds, Five Feet Apart), featuring former NFL star Devon Still, actor Nathan Kress (iCarly, Star Wars Rebels), comedian and writer Zach Anner (Speechless), caregiving advocate Robert Espinoza (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute), and Caring Across Generations’ Director Ai-jen Poo.
This program, available as a one-hour special or 5-part short form limited series is a uniquely vulnerable, empathic and uplifting exploration of what it means to give care and be cared for as a man in today’s society.
Today, 53 million family caregivers in America provide physical and emotional care for an ill, aging, or disabled loved one at home. But we rarely talk about it, let alone the fact that 40% of caregivers for adults are men. While we will all give or receive care in our lives, caregiving is often invisible and undervalued.
We all pay the price when caregiving remains invisible and gendered in outdated ways. Studies have found caregiving men, especially those caring for adults, tend to be more isolated, reluctant to ask for help, and unprepared to take on new caregiving responsibilities. Even when caregiving support like paid leave is available, men can be less likely to take it. Women, more often expected to be caregivers with inadequate support, end up experiencing it as a burden with significant costs to their financial, physical and emotional health. Professional caregiving women are paid poverty wages and lack the benefits and protections the dignity of their labor deserves.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of care, and brought many people, including men, into the realization of the caregiving role they play in their families. The pandemic has also mainstreamed the idea that families do better when caregiving can be a collective effort with shared responsibilities, communities of care, and systematic support in the form of inclusive, transformative policy solutions (childcare supports, paid medical and family leave, and long-term support and services).
By publicly sharing these videos and your stories, we are asking people to join the movement to build a culture of care: where care is considered a strength and part of a newly expanded notion of masculinity; and where the work of care is fairly valued, supported and compensated.
The cast opens up about their experiences giving and receiving care and discuss the importance of caregiving. Nathan shares about caring for his wife throughout her journey with endometriosis, and his fear of potentially acting as caregiver for his daughter as well due to the same illness.
Devon shares his personal experience as a caregiver for his four year-old daughter with cancer, how caring for her altered his personal and professional life forever, and how being vulnerable in front of his daughter, his family, and his peers took a lot of strength.
Justin and Ai-jen discuss the financial impact of caregiving on families, and envision a path forward through culture change, collective action, and policy solutions that will lead us to a reality where care is valued in our culture, and everyone has the support they need to access and afford care for themselves and their loved ones.
Zach opens up about his experience as someone who has received care at various points in his life, and provides candid, insightful, and often humorous insights into releasing the feelings of guilt and insecurity associated with being cared for. Ai-jen and Justin remind us that caregiving is an intimate act of love that brings joy and strengthens relationships.
Robert shares his experience of being a long-distance caregiver for his mother and the shock that came with his realization there is no system in place to support people who want to receive care at home. Ai-jen lays out the steps it will take for us to achieve sustainable, Universal Family Care for all (including childcare supports, paid medical and family leave, and long term supports and services) — which begins with having these conversations with our families, friends, and communities.
Being a caregiver is a special role, full of joy and challenges, vulnerability and strength. The 21 million male caregivers in this country know this, as they provide compassionate love, care, and support every day. But because traditional masculinity doesn’t always value vulnerability and care, men who are caregiving can feel more isolated and less supported than other caregivers. Caring for those we love is one of the things that makes us human, and many of us will be caregivers at some point in our lives.
Do you have a caregiving story you want to share? When you share your story and experience as a caregiver, you are illustrating the strength that it takes to care for someone, and normalizing caregiving as a man. Your story will show other caregivers that they are valued and not alone. Share your story, and join our powerful and supported community of caregivers.