I remember an interesting article written by a Mummy who was a bit miffed to be told that she should consider herself lucky to have a helpful husband. The writer wanted to draw attention to the fact that modern men are expected to play bigger roles within the home these days, and by demonstrating a willingness to, are more likely to be chosen as partners. It was a nice sentiment but written unnecessarily aggressively.
Despite the rise in the number of stay-at-home-dads, a notion of the hapless man too stupid to manage his own children is a tough stereotype to shake. Everyone finds it funny and secretly enjoys the feeling of superiority, while guys are expected to play up to this image. But the tables are quick to turn. It’s suddenly not so funny when Mama wants to pursue a high-flying career and Daddy doesn’t know how much formula to make up. The useless dad is now expected to step up and become a 50% partner in the home, even though he was the butt of family jokes only yesterday.
Seems like these poor dads just can’t win.
It is fantastic that so many dads today want to and are able to be more involved in the child caring and rearing process. I for one am certainly grateful, but are society’s expectations unfair?
Most men of my father’s generation never changed nappies, were clueless about baby developmental milestones and would not have been able to put up a ponytail to save their lives! But they worked incredibly hard to make sure their families were provided for.
Were they bad fathers?
Most men of my grandfather’s generation weren’t even around for the birth of their children as they were busy fighting for their countries and risking their lives for a better future for their offspring.
Were they bad fathers?
It is not just a generational thing as there are plenty of single income and army families today. And what about co-parents? Having gone through a divorce or separation does not make you a worse parent. In fact quite the opposite, you are better parents for having the balls to make a tough decision for the benefit of your family.
Men might parent differently to women, it doesn’t mean that they parent less. Dedicated parents come in all shapes and forms, and what works for one family might not for another. My husband isn’t as good as preparing the kids’ lunches as I am, but he can make them giggle uncontrollably by throwing them higher into the air. He doesn’t put as much thought into their organised activities, but he will patiently show them how to plant seeds and grow radishes.
This generation of modern men are supporting feminism by accepting that women want a change and stepping up to the challenges of home-making (which sure as hell ain’t easy!) to show their support. In return, perhaps it is time we stopped with the bad dad jokes and parenting bias. Perhaps we SHOULD consider ourselves lucky. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of gratitude, even if our expectations are simply being met.