Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dads are Parents, too

Warning: a rant is about to commence.

The title should seem obvious, but in the last two and a half years, I've noticed a serious double standard when it comes to moms and dads.

I first experienced this when Kate was a few weeks old, after Jessica had gone back to work but before we put her in day-care, and I spent about six weeks caring for her by myself during the work day. Since I was pastoring a church, I couldn't just stay home, so she spent a fair amount of time in her car seat during that time.

I had her with me when I was doing sermon prep and meeting with someone at a local coffee shop, and a lady came up to me just beaming about how I was doing "such a good job" with her, in a tone that sounded like she was talking to a child. Would anyone have said something like that to a woman out by herself with an infant?

Other times people asked me if I was "babysitting" or "being dad today". No, I'm parenting, and I'm her dad every day, regardless of whether she's with me during work hours! Again, would anyone ask a woman if she was "being mom"?

While this apparent double standard is clearly gender-based, I'm not going to call it sexist, because it's only a mild annoyance, and nothing compared to to challenges and discrimination many women face every day.

Still, next time you see a man in public with his children, don't demean him by acting like he's doing something special or incredibly difficult. He's simply doing his job and carrying his share of the load so his wife's life is a little bit easier.

OK, rant over. Thanks for reading.


NALA said...

Enjoyed your "rant" Matt. Don't blame you for being irritated.
By the way, you are a great dad.

Mark said...

Well said. I struggle with my reaction to stranger's "sympathy" when out in public with our two year-olds. "My, you sure have your hands full." or "I'm glad it's you and not me." to which I offer whole-hearted agreement. Being a dad may be difficult at times and somehow beyond the cultural norm, but it's really, really great.

SpeasHill said...

Or maybe we should all just congratulate parents of either gender when they are out alone with their kid(s). That might go a long way to ended the mom wars. :)