10 Things People Need To Stop Saying To Millennial Dads
Many out there, including some of my fellow Millennials, bemoan the inherent awfulness of the Millennial generation. I, on the other hand, like Millennials just fine. Frankly, we're not a monolith and we have far more in common with previous generations than not. (Even people who lived 250 years ago because haven't you seen Hamilton?) Millennial parents face their own set of judgments and challenges in this culture clash, including Millennial dads, which is why there are more than a few things people need to stop saying to Millennial dads. Honestly, it all just makes you sound boorish and rant-y.
Again, Millennial dads are not a monolith. Some suck in all the same ways some dads of my father's and grandfather's generations sucked. Other suck in completely new, uniquely horrific ways. However, there are some trends among dads born between 1980 and 2000 that are, to put it mildly, encouraging, especially (I'm assuming) for their female partners. (To that point, I should point out that a lot of my claims and links in the points below speak largely to Millennial dads in heterosexual relationships because, unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on a ton of information on Millennial dads in same-sex relationships.)
From greater levels of engagement with their partners, children, and households, to abandoning the idea that dads have to fit a certain mold, Millennial dads are a responsible, thoughtful, engaged group of guys that we should be encouraging to follow their instincts. We should not, for example, say any of the following:
Suggest They're "Babysitting" Their Kids
A. Dad. Can't. Babysit. His. Own. Kids. That's just called "parenting." Plus, Millennial men are spending more time with their children than father's did "back in the day." The Atlantic reports that dads today spend approximately 5 more hours a week on childcare than they did in 1965. While stay-at-home moms still far outnumber stay-at-home dads, men taking "the daddy track" has increased significantly in recent decades (due, in part, to the Great Recession). In fact, according to a 2012 study from the Pew Research Center, approximately two million men were their family's primary caregivers. In case you're keeping count, that's 16 percent of all stay-at-home parents.
So, no, dad's not babysitting. He's being a dad.
"Your Generation Is Raising Entitled Kids"
All kids are entitled, to a degree. That's just science, really. They're children, and growing up is how they learn to be more compassionate, thoughtful people. But I get it: you're saying Millennial parents, with own entitlement issues are passing down that entitlement to their own offspring. I could, perhaps, take this a teeny bit seriously if the whole "kids today" trope hadn't been around basically forever.
My theory? People get old and cranky (God knows I have), and many forget what hijinks they pulled as kids or what they resorted to as parents. Or, when you point it out, they immediately jump to "that was different" and choose to take a (more accurate) nuanced view of themselves and their own cohorts, but refuse to take anything but the narrowest and most myopic of views in regard to Millennials.
"That's Mom's Job"
My, my. Isn't that sexist and absurd. (And, frankly, insulting to dads, who are more than capable of doing just about everything a mom can do.) Fortunately for Millennial women partnered with Millennial men, our dudes are taking a much more egalitarian view of family life. While work and other social policies do not always support a family's ability to realize their egalitarian principles, Millennial dads seem to be putting their money where their mouth is by slowly helping to close the domestic labor gap with their partners. (Even if we still have a ways to go overall.)
No. Stop. Enough. Enough with your creepy, reductive, needlessly gendered worldview.
Another word for "Mr. Mom" is "dad." Just say that. It's shorter, it's not condescending, and it's not an unfunny joke that has been made a million and five times already. "Mr. Mom" is telling me way more about what kind of dad you are (or your view on dads) than you are telling me about the "Mr. Mom" in question.
"You're Kids Won't Respect You If You Don't Lay Down The Law"
This is usually a not-so-subtle, judgmental dog whistle to dads encourage to use corporal punishment or, at the very least, adopt a sterner, more authoritarian approach to fatherhood. It plays in to the whole "back in my day" and "your generation is raising entitled kids" thing that is as reductive as it is unfounded by actual evidence. (As is the assumption that Millennial dads don't spank their kids, by the way.)
Do we have to do this? Seriously? Millennials are blamed for a lot of things we don't deserve to be blamed for, but I feel like "dad bod" is something a bunch of us are trying to make a thing for Millennial dads, and it's just the most absurd nonsense I've heard in a while, really.
Women often face intense scrutiny and ridicule after pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention an endless barrage of products and programs designed to help them "get their body back," and dads are jocularly praised for putting on a few pounds as they age? Come on, guys. I know you're trying to be cutesy, but if you look at it in the bigger picture you'll realize this is just stupid. (And, hey, maybe we can just be cool with the idea that bodies are bodies and sometimes they change for any number of reasons? Maybe?)
"Men Are Meant To Be The Head Of The Household"
Oh aren't you all just precious with your desperate and insecure desire to wield power over something. Fortunately, Millennial dads aren't as fragile as you apparently are.
"The Men Of Your Generation Are Feminized"
Blissfully, Millennials (more than other generations) have come to the conclusion that gender is really not what we were often taught it must be, and that the rules aren't actually written in stone. (And never have been, just look at Louis XIV's shoes and resplendent wig.) The unspoken second sentence there when spoken to Millennial dads is, of course "And it's bad for your children and family."
To which I say:
1) What exactly do you mean by "feminized?"
2) Why is feminine bad?
3) Please show me some studies about how abandoning toxic masculinity is detrimental to children or families. I'll be waiting here, probably for forever.
"You're Doing Housework? You're P*ssy-Whipped."
No. He's an adult. Grown-ass Millennial men aren't going to helplessly wait about for a woman to iron a shirt for them. These dudes take matters into their own hands. Moreover, they realize that saying they are whipped because they're doing a chore implies that only a woman should be attempting this task, which is insulting to everyone involved, not to mention sexist and absurd. Remember Millennial dads are doing more of the chores and childcare that previous generations felt they were exempt from for some ridiculous reason because they don't feel entitled to sit back and watch their female partners do all the domestic jobs by themselves.
"You've Got To Stop Letting Your Kids Believe Everyone Deserves A Trophy Just For Showing Up"
Here is a box of all our collective participation trophies. We are returning them to you. (Remember, we never asked for them, you people demanded them for us because you couldn't stand the idea that we weren't all sports stars.) We never felt entitled to a trophy for showing up and we never much cared about them. Stop acting like our entire generation was undone by a plastic statue of a kid kicking a ball. We were never made or broken by a trophy and we don't wish to impart that on our own children.
Let's burn them all together and we will never speak of this again.