Family life has changed a lot over the past 50 years.
Families have changed. We live in a more diverse society and families come in all shapes and sizes.
Modern fathers are expected to play a more hands-on role than their children’s lives.
7 Things We Need To Stop Saying To Dads
They change nappies, do school pickups and take days off work to care for sick children.
Fatherhood has changed and it’s time the narrative around fatherhood reflected that.
Most dads aren’t the bumbling idiots portrayed by the media or the distant stern fathers of days gone by. Instead they are present, loving and positive role models for their kids.
Let’s start recognising it and speaking to dads like they matter.
Here are seven things we need to stop saying to dads:
#1: Are You Babysitting Today?
Babysitting? No, mate, these are my kids.
Nobody is paying me to look after them, just like nobody pays my partner to look after them. We’re not babysitting, we made these kids and it’s our responsibility to look after them.
Let’s stop patronising dads by calling them babysitters. They’re not babysitters. They’re parents. Stop undermining them by insinuating they have are part-time parents.
It’s also offensive to mamas. By calling dad a babysitter, this pushes mama in the primary caregiver seat. That may not be the case, and you shouldn’t assume it is.
She shouldn’t have to ask him to babysit so she can have some time to herself, so stop implying that he’s doing her a favour by being an involved parent.
#2: Here, Let Me
The father is just as capable as the mama, let him do it. There is a tendency to ‘help out’ dads more than we help mamas.
The archaic view that dads don’t know what they’re doing leads to society offering help more often to dads. And, yes parents do need more help and the support of those around them. But, when we focus all of the help on the dads, both parents miss out.
The mama misses out because the help isn’t offered to her, and the dad misses out because he’s offered so much help that he is robbed of the opportunity to do things for himself. By all means, help if he asks you to, but don’t stride in and take over.
#3: You’re Such An Amazing Dad
Ok, he probably is an amazing dad and who wouldn’t want to hear it?
But pay attention next time you’re with new parents and you’ll notice how many more compliments the dad gets.
Mamas have to be breastfeeding upside down on a unicorn made of cheese before anyone will mention what a great job she’s doing.
Dad just has to stroll over and pick up his baby and the room will oooh and aaah over his amazing parenting skills.
Of course it’s ok to compliment his parenting skills, but let’s do it when he’s doing some of his best parenting, not just because he manages to simultaneously own a penis and not completely neglect his children?
#4: Your Wife Is So Lucky
Oh, look, a man who can take care of his own child, his wife must be thanking her lucky stars! Well, er, no, actually.
Firstly, there’s no luck there. His partner may have fallen in love with him in part because of his modern approach to life and equality and parenting. Procreation isn’t a randomised numbers game, you do usually get a say about who you choose to have a baby with.
And, secondly, she’s not lucky just because he helps out with the kids. They’re his kids, too. He is expected to help out. If a man doesn’t help out, his partner is ‘unlucky’, not the other way around.
#5: What Would Mama Say About That?
This fits into the ‘dads are bumbling idiots’ category. There’s this widely held misconception that men have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to parenting. And, of course, women are the brains behind the operation.
These stereotypes don’t do anybody any favours. They undermine men’s confidence when it comes to parenting decisions and they add pressure to women who are already carrying an unfairly weighty load of family admin.
So, next time you see a hilariously dressed kid with his dad, or a kid shovelling down a huge ice-cream while at the park with his dad, don’t make a comment about what mama might say.
Dads are parents, too, so let him have fun with his kid without people commenting on what his partner would say about his choices.
#6: You’re Brave!
Nobody says this to women. We might get the occasional ‘you’ve got your hands full’ but never a mention of bravery just for spending time with our own children.
But dads can’t go to the park without somebody commenting on how brave they are. Is it a masculinity thing? Does describing being a parent as ‘brave’ make it more appealing and manly? Or is it just the shock of seeing a man with small children on his own in public? Who will tell him how to dress them? Or change the nappies? Or tell him how to parent?
What bravery – venturing out alone! All hail the man who dares to spend time with his own children.
#7: Where’s Your Wife?
Women look after kids on their own all of the time and nobody ever questions it. But if a guy steps out with his kids, everybody wants to know where his wife is.
This is one of many double standards that exists where parenting is concerned. If the dad isn’t present, people assume he’s at work. If the mama isn’t there, people assume she’s a terrible, selfish and neglectful mother.
Let’s just stop assuming, shall we? It’s none of our business, anyway.