THIS week saw the first shots exchanged in what you could call the 'daddy wars'. On one side, David Cameron and Nick Clegg changed the time of a Cabinet meeting so they could take their kids to school first - sending a powerful signal to fathers and employers about the importance of family life.
Fire was returned with both barrels by the Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn, who complained in his Friday column that when his children were small he left home at 5.30am and only saw them at weekends. The Mail's diary column says Cameron and Clegg 'invite our contempt', a view I suspect the Mail's editor Paul Dacre probably shares. I'm sure some older male MPs are muttering similar things, and there may be jitters around Downing Street.
Well, I hope they stick to their guns. Littlejohn reflects what many British men, particularly older men, probably think. But there is another generation of fathers who don't want their children to grow up in their absence, and Cameron and Clegg owe it them to show the sky doesn't fall in if you occasionally put family first.
The 'daddy wars', just like the much better-chronicled mummy wars, are often rooted in guilt: if a man announces he won't sacrifice his children to a career, men who have essentially had to do just that are bound to feel criticised and defensive. There's a sense of 'I had it hard, why shouldn't they?'
And men who disagree don't always dare say so. Some years ago when the Commons was debating changes to late night voting, those campaigning for more humane hours were nearly all women (and mothers) while those against were nearly all men. A male MP (and father) told me he and several colleagues were privately on the women's side but staying quiet because it was easier to let the women take the flak.
Well, where working fathers and working mothers share the same frustrations about office life it's time they made common cause. Cameron and Clegg have a unique chance to make a difference: I hope they grab it with both hands.