Pop quiz! Which parent do these statements describe:
- they’ll be up at night with baby
- they’ll feed and change baby
- they’ll throw baby into a front carrier or stroller and hit the road
- they’ll hold and comfort their child
- they’ll spend time teaching their child
- they’ll do bath time and bedtime
- they’ll be a stay-at-home parent while the other parent earns the money
- they’ll get their child(ren) dressed and take them to school, pre-school or daycare
- they’ll give their child advice about life
- they’ll make breakfast, lunch and/or dinner for their child
- they’ll show their child love and affection
At first glance, many people would instinctively picture moms doing these things. And I get it. Historically — in North America, at least — mothers have been the caregivers (in addition to many other things, including breadwinners) while dads were seen as more distant, serious and aloof. And once upon a time, it was the norm for men to go to work while moms stayed at home with the kid(s).
The Persistent Myth About Dads
It’s time we acknowledge that it’s shitty to keep treating dads as parents who are buffoons, inept, clueless, incapable, “babysitters”, part-time, or otherwise the lesser parent.
It’s downright sexist.
Sexism: Sexism or gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender.
Of course women are the victims of sexism far more frequently than men are. That’s not even up for debate, and I’m not trying to take away from that. This is a different conversation altogether.
Just because women are subjected to unacceptable levels of sexism doesn’t make it OK or excusable to keep perpetuating these stupid stereotypes about dads. It’s 2017, not 1957.
Let’s Celebrate Kick-Ass Dads
There are countless men out there who are phenomenal fathers, who take care of anything and everything as it pertains to children. But let’s not go too far in the other direction, saying that they’re heroes or “dad of the year” because they did their fuckin’ job as a parent.
“Oh, he changed a diaper today and I only had to ask him once. What an amazing dad!”
It would just be nice to get a little more recognition that fathers are perfectly capable parents. In many cases, they’re better at it (or certain parts of it) than moms. And that’s absolutely fine!
Training Dads to be Clueless (and Telling Them it’s OK )
Is it not a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy to keep depicting fathers (on TV, in movies, in ads) as primitive doofuses? What do we expect dads to be if they keep being fed this line that “dads are just silly wannabes who can’t do it as well as moms”. And don’t even get me started on books that are aimed at dads and dads-to-be. So many of those books are filled with sexist, macho drivel of their own.
Father’s Day happens to be a day of the year that reinforces typical “manly” stereotypes about dads. Let’s buy him golf gear, a tie, beer, BBQ stuff, a sports jersey, tools, things to shave with, etc, etc. Yeah, some dads are into that, and of course that doesn’t mean they’re NOT good dads.
But many dads are not so easily boxed in. The more we recognize that dads can be every bit as loving, sensitive, attentive and present as moms, the sooner we’ll see dads embrace parenthood and feel empowered.
The less we relegate and reduce men to “oh, he held the baby so mom could shower…what a guy” the better off we’ll all be.
But dads, that also means you have to do your gawdamn job!