We Are Doing A Disservice to Dads

Talon (age 2) and his co-parenting pops, Ben. Image courtesy of the Hulet family.

Talon (age 2) and his co-parenting pops, Ben. Image courtesy of the Hulet family.

[Ed. Note: This is a guest post by the  brilliant, Kyl Myers]

We are doing a disservice to dads. Our culture perpetuates an ideology that fathers are secondary caregivers and not as capable as mothers when it comes to raising children. This way of thinking is unreasonable and it is harmful to fatherhood (not to mention motherhood) and it disempowers men.

Dads matter.

Dads are awesome.

Dads need more credit and more opportunities to change the paradigm of parenthood.

Everyone probably knows at least one dad (hopefully) who changes 50% of the diapers, does 50% of the carpooling, is in charge of half the baths, half the packed lunches, and answers half of the infinite questions asked by their kiddos.

So you know one dad like that? Why aren’t all dads that you know like that?

Think about all the children you know who have a mom and dad who live in the same house. How many of those children are genuinely co-parented? Have you ever overheard a father telling his friend, “I really should call my wife to see how she’s doing with the baby. I get so nervous leaving her alone with him for too long!”? Sounds crazy when it’s flipped, but that’s often how moms talk when the kids are alone with their dad.

Have you ever seen a dad profusely thank their wife for changing a diaper? Probably not, but moms thank dads ALL THE TIME for changing diapers, making bottles, or waking up in the middle of the night with the baby. As if dad is “helping out” or “pitching in” or doing work that exclusively belongs to the mother and she is slightly embarrassed she couldn’t manage it all.

Don’t get me wrong – expressing gratitude to your child’s other parent is wonderful – but the ratio of who is getting thanked is skewed and conveys a message of “you really didn’t have to do that – thanks for going out of your way!”

Tis bullshit.

Dads are equally responsible for and capable of rearing their children, but they have to have the chance to do so.

Stop saying that dads are “babysitting” while mom has a night out with her friends. No one says mom is “babysitting” when dad goes out with his friends! One parent is with the kid while the other parent is out? Oh, that’s just called p a r e n t i n g. Quit stripping dads of their confidence. The “mother-knows-best” mentality has to go because it’s making motherhood superior over fatherhood (heaping undue pressure on moms and discrediting dads at the same time). Mothers and fathers both have unlimited amounts of love, experiences and advice to give their children.

Fathers typically parent differently than mothers. Not worse, not better, but different. And guess what? It’s good for kids to have exposure to different kinds of parenting styles. In his book, Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child, Kyle D. Pruett, M.D. describes the effects of father care on child development. Well-fathered children have better adaptive and problem-solving abilities, strengthened cognitive capacities, and social competencies, such as: secure attachments, empathy, absence of gender role stereotyping, self-control, and moral sensitivity. The physical development of a child is even positively associated with father presence and involvement. And the benefits of having an awesome dad are not exclusively absorbed by the kid – dad benefits, too! Pruett states, “Bottom line: the closer the connection between father and child, the better off they both are now and in the future.”

Dads need to feel equal in their parenting partnership with moms – not inferior, not second class, and certainly not like a babysitter. When dads co-parent they have better relationships with their children. When parents equally contribute to raising their children, they have happier marriages.

Dads matter.

Dads are awesome.

Dads need more credit and more opportunities to change the paradigm of parenthood.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this post! Fathering is wonderful and women who are parenting with men can support and encourage their partners to fully embrace the job. It starts with diapers and as they grow up there is so much more to it – social and emotional support, showing up at children’s events, meeting their friends, teachers, coaches. Sometimes men need encouragement and in my experience it’s worth the time and effort to do so.

  2. I’m so glad you liked the post! I’m with you on empowering dads!

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