Social Diminishment of a Father’s Role

I’m not sure how others feel about this, but I firmly believe that a father’s role is crucial.  In our family in particular, I’d be lost without my husband fulfilling the father’s role the best that he possibly can.  In some ways, I suspect that he’d be a better stay at home dad than I am a stay at home mom.

This is why I tend to get irritated with images in media that depict fathers as bumbling idiots.  It diminishes their value to the family unit.  I mean, honestly, I have children already.  I don’t need a husband that I must infantilize because I cannot count on him to be successful in a father’s role.  There are some memes on Facebook lately that have just made me absolutely livid.  (Okay, some have merely irritated me, but still.)

Maybe I’m grumpy and I have no sense of humor, but this one annoys me because it implies that Dad cares more about his own comfort than meeting his child’s needs.  I’ve watched my husband get up at night with our babies and pace the floor with them when they were difficult to soothe.  I’ve seen him step on building blocks, be covered in baby barf, and come home from work early when I had to take a sick child to the doctor.  Those things hardly speak to a man who cares more about his own comforts than satisfying the needs of his child.  I don’t actually know any dads that will cheerfully read the newspaper and ignore the screaming baby beside them.

It’s that whole gender stereotyping thing again.  Moms are the tender, loving nurturers… and Dads are big goofs.  It turns out that I’m actually the one who is more inclined to make goofy faces by mashing my kid’s face into funky shapes.  I’m also just as prone as my husband is to toss them around, particularly my toddler.  None of us toss Eudora around; she’s just so tiny that it doesn’t seem like a bright idea.

Once again, we’re seeing men as fools who are incapable of doing basic things like making sure their babies are fed properly.  My husband?  He’s a fastidious label reader, especially if it concerns something that our children will eat.  He’s amazing about getting the right things for our babies.  He knows that if I do give our children baby food from a jar, it needs to be organic without filler ingredients.  When Norton rejected a jar of baby food we tried once ages ago, the husband was the first one to try it and the one to toss it.  Incidentally, he was feeding Norton at that time.  He’s also helped with making baby food, or just plain made it.

If this same picture showed a bunch of women standing around in the hardware store or the parts store, there would be thousands screaming that this isn’t funny; it’s sexist behavior at its finest.  Why aren’t we protesting the treatment of our men?

I don’t see the need to diminish the importance of fathers in the home.  I think that the involved father should be celebrated, not made out to be something as rare as a Yeti.

What do these images of fathers say to you?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.

Comments

  1. Great post. Glad to see more mothers standing up to this.

  2. Father here. Been doing it for a year now and I do hear comments here and there about fathers being dopey, but I let it roll off my shoulders. I am an awesome dad. My wife is an awesome mom. And our son is crazy happy.

    I certainly understand the notion that dads can be funny when it comes to fathering but I suspect it is just because guys are guys. We like to approach problems pretty much the same whether it is a clogged pipe, a math problem, or a diaper full of last nights chopped carrots and avocado. It’s a problem. Let’s fix it. Not a whole lot of emotion to the process.

    So when it comes to fathering and raising another human being, sometimes the perception is we don’t have the emotional depth to deal with the unique problems that can arise with a child.

    I’ll admit it. Things like changing diapers (which I am CRAZY good at, by the way), feeding, dressing are all things that, in my mind, are mechanical processes. I am awesome at those. Trying to read what he is freaking out about, not so much. But I am getting better everytime. Every time he flips out, gives me a chance to try to hear what he is saying, and respond to it.

    Ultimately it doesn’t really matter to me what anyone else thinks. I understand the stereotypes and bias associated with fatherhood, but that is all they are.

    Gotta run. He is eating a shoe….

  3. Honestly, I’m jealous that you have a mature husband that helps you so much! My husband is a goof (part of the reason I love him)- and most days I wish he helped more. He has his moments… and if I could back off of things more, I think it would give him an opportunity to pitch in. But I agree that we should reject gender stereotypes of BOTH sexes!

  4. My husband is great too! I am so glad that he is here to be a daddy to our daughter while I work outside the home. Then, when I am home, I am mommy to our daughter while he works from inside the home. Both of us are vitally important to our daughter. Neither of our roles can be diminished without hurting our baby.

  5. I avoid Facebook so I haven’t seen these memes you were talking about. Don’t let them bug you. Your husband sounds like a great man; what other people generalize on shouldn’t frustrate you so much. Like Tony said, guys are guys. Mothers have 9 long months to get to know thSo e baby before fathers do, so it might be tougher for them.
    As long as you know and see that your husband is a great man and father that should be enough. Let others say what they say…big chance is that they are alone in their parenting journey. Even bigger chance: they have no kids. So forget about them!

  6. Thank you so much for your post..

  7. Not to mention, a lot of dad’s are the sole providers financially, while also balancing part-time caretaker and of course falling into all the other sexist roles of handyman/fixer-upper/landscaper.

    I cook, clean, concoct baby-butt sprays from random recipes online, make over 100,000 dollars a year, pay all the bills, feed my child, bath my child, and put my child to bed.

    Maybe we should get two holidays a year instead of one.

  8. I knew women like this existed.

  9. i am a stay at home dad while my wife works. I am also on Disability. We believe that my role in the household is crucial even with my disability. We also have three special needs kids that require a lot of attention, so regardless of the disability, one of us had to be an at home parent.

  10. The stereotypes are annoying. My husband is far from Dad of the year but does his best. Sometimes his judgment could be better about certain things but he’s an awesome, active dad. I totally agree with you that the involved father should be celebrated!

  11. It’s sad the way society puts father’s down and minimizes them.

  12. If NOTHING else, my ex was AMAZING with a colicky infant!

    I personally believe it’s more a “self fulfilling” thing, we believe it, therefore it becomes. This notion that they CANNOT possibly make the right decision keeps them from being able to make ANY decision. Also the inflexibility of some mom’s as well adds to that. UNLESS there is a SERIOUS REASON to veto something, I personally don’t care what brand or variety you bring home, just bring it PLEASE! Changing the baby 5 minutes after your spouse did it already because the dipe is not “just so” is demeaning.

    First thing my ex said when I left him with a baby when we started using cloth was “What if I get it wrong?” My Answer “When in doubt, just wrap a clean t-shirt around her, newborns don’t get very far” And guess what, I found a clean dry happy sleeping babe when I got back from my trip to get whatever it was. (I personally think it was a cup of coffee ALONE, lol) He may not have had to change those babies often, but if I left him something he could manage, it got done. Dishes are another story…..

  13. My husband is awesome but the baby food aisle meme would probably him 😉 We usually shop together and he’s a good solo shopper as well calls me from the grocery store all the time. More to double check things than being helpless.

  14. My hubby isn’t a daddy yet but he loves babies and is really good with little kids. I’ve never seen these memes before but I think you raise some good points.

  15. Your are not the norm! Bravo! I think like all meme’s they are not meant towards EVERY person (Dad). But on another note I’d love to hear your fave butt spray recipe! I’m doing honest company body wash, coconut oil, tea tree oil and water at the moment…

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