What's fallen away from marriage for artist-intellectual-professional types are the traditional genders and gender roles. But, as new moms have been observing for years, the arrival of a child has a nasty way of reinstating the old dynamic. Pollack, who feels the need to make money and provide a safe place to live, is among the first to relate the re-emergence of breadwinner angst among men. (Although he fights this pressure by smoking pot and forming a rock band.) Regina is divided by wanting space for her artistic ambitions and her feelings of being a "bad mother." Parenthood, which looks from the outside like a step into maturity, is actually a descent into a new set of insecurities. Including renewed tension with your parents, who are often willing to overlook a funky wedding ceremony but want to see you step in with tradition and/or religion when a grandchild appears. An infamous chapter in Alternadad details the three-way gunfight among Neal, Regina, and Neal's Jewish parents over whether Eli should be circumcised.
As I said, I don't have that much in common with Pollack (the religion question is a non-issue, for instance), though many of the questions raised in this review of his book in Slate are ones I'm thinking about too: as in, how to rethink conventional gender roles to support slightly non-traditional (in my case) careers. Also of great interest is how to inject a spirit of originality -- one's own idiosyncratic taste -- into parenting in a way that's both "cool" and nurturing.
As a side note, maybe I should follow Pollack's lead, and write an article (or book?) related to parenting sometime: parents and parenting in literary history. James Joyce was an unusual dad, though not a very good one, I gather. Rabindranath Tagore was in many ways a better father -- still highly unconventional -- though there are questions about him marrying off his daughter in a child marriage.
Of course those are only biographical bits -- the "real" question might be, how and whether writers posed characters as parents in their fiction. In some cases, it didn't matter whether they were parents or not: Virginia Woolf, for instance, did not have children, but she created some very memorable mothers in her novels -- Mrs. Dalloway and Mrs. Ramsay.
Other famous parents in fiction?