There have been a lot of articles that talk about gender roles, mom’s role, dad’s role, dinner rolls, etc. A lot of positive change has come from these discussions, and men have benefited a lot from it as well. Dad’s no longer have to be the stoic, hard as a rock figure of the mid 1900’s. We can have a softer side as well… although my wife would still probably tell you I’m about as good at talking about feelings as I am at figure skating. With that in mind I just wanted to address a few persistent views and ideas about dads that can be very frustrating.
3 Frustrating Views of Dads and Fatherhood
3) Doing Menial Things Does Not Make Me a Great Dad
Like most people, I like a compliment. I certainly like to be told I’m doing a good job raising my daughter if the situation warrants it. However, I don’t need to be complimented for the day to day things that simply make me a dad. Not a great dad, just a dad. I have been called a great dad for taking my daughter to the mall, taking her for dinner, going to the playground, and a myriad of other day to day activities. When she was a baby I got complimented for changing her diaper… what was I going to do just leave her filthy until we got back to mom?
Look, I understand this comes from a good place, but the reason I took my kid to the mall is probably because I couldn’t take another episode of Team Umizoomi, and if I took her out to eat it might be because the idea of making dinner was simply too much for me to handle after a day of work. I love spending time with my daughter, but achieving the basic level of fatherhood of “leaving the house with my kid” is not a measurement of greatness. Also, you only get these compliments when mom isn’t around, like people are shocked dad can handle the kids without her.
So thank you for the compliment, but really, I’m not great for not being terrible.
“OH GOD… NOT AGAIN, GET IN THE CAR.”
2) You Cannot Babysit Your Own Kids
Babysit: (verb): to take care of a child while the child’s parents are away.
That is the Merriam-Webster definition of babysitting. It is actually impossible for a father to babysit their own kids. Yet, I hear it all the time. I admit this one is just a personal pet peeve, and maybe I overreact to it, but it conveys this weird idea that dad watching the kids is some sort of chore. Sometimes I hear dad’s say this and it makes me cringe, but more often it’s directed at them from other people.
I cannot babysit my own daughter any more than I can steal my own car. I am watching my daughter, or I am spending time with my daughter, or I am just being dad. I am not babysitting my own daughter. Please stop calling it this.
1) We’re Inept or We Don’t Care
I blame this significantly on the trope of the TV Dad who never gets anything right. However, dad’s are constantly portrayed as bumbling idiots who can barely put their pants on let alone raise kids. If mom leaves the kids will get fed (it might be a Dad Lunch… see what I did there?), they will get to bed, and they will probably have no more than 3-4 colors of paint in their hair.
We love our kids. We do the best we can, and although in most families, mom is a bit more put together, leaving the kids with dad isn’t some massive disaster waiting to happen. They might just end up watching Star Wars and eating ice cream for dinner.