Times are changing. Yes, we still live in a patriarchal society urging us all to adhere to traditional gender roles, but less and less of us are listening. Today's dad isn't just "OK" shouldering more daily responsibilities, he's thrilled about it. He doesn't "babysit," he parents. He volunteers and takes the lead and doesn't sit back and wait for instructions on "what to do" as a father. In fact, there are more than a few things every grown-ass dad automatically does because, well, this is 2018, people. It's about damn time.
When I was young, fathers generally took on the "provider" role. In other words, they were the so-called "breadwinners" that didn't lift a finger at home because they brought home a paycheck every other week. Most, though not all, I'm sure, dads from way back when believed women were meant to give up their dreams to stay home with the children. A mom was to cook, clean, and look pretty, while never complaining because what she did at home wasn't actually "work."
Again, this isn't to say all men felt this way or that all moms stayed at home (in fact, in the '50s that was a pretty privileged choice, and many women of color worked outside the home like their partners), but, for the most part, dads were seen as secondary parents. My dad was no different, and neither was his, but thankfully I married a man who's into equality. He doesn't consider himself "back up," and like every other grown-ass dad he knows what is expected of him. Because, again, it's 2018, people.
He Parents Instead Of "Babysitting"
A grown-ass dad isn't a damn babysitter. Oh no, he's a father in both title and action. Why? Because parents don't babysit their own children. In 2018, dads don't watch their kids as a "favor" to their parenting partner. They do it because it's literally part of the job requirement.
He Stays Consistently Involved
A modern dad doesn't just clock in and out of work, go home, and kick his feet up like a robot. He's volunteering at school, coaching sports teams, going to dance recitals, and doing the stay-at-home thing just as often as moms. Grown-ass dads know how to do their daughter's hair and throw a baseball. He dances with his son just as often as he plays with various action figures. He's pretty much a do-it-all kind of guy who doesn't have time for idiotic gender roles or outdated social constructs.
In other words, he rocks.
He Cooks Actual Food
The whole "pregnant woman barefoot in a kitchen where she belongs" thing is dead, people. Dead. Dead. Dead. Fathers are cooking actual food for their actual families because, yes, they are actual adults. A grown-ass man understands providing a meal is not only a necessary part of a partnership, it's part of being a grown-ass human being. I mean, if you don't know how to cook for yourself, you really have no business calling yourself a "big kid."
He Cleans Up After Himself
I'm not a maid. I don't get paid to clean up anyone's messes. While I love and appreciate a tidy house, I also expect everyone to do their part to make it so. Yes, this includes my grown-ass husband.
As previously mentioned, my partner doesn't just come home from work and kick his feet up while I sweep around him. He knows better. Every 2018 dad not only picks up after himself, he's picking up his partner's slack when they've had a long work day, too. He's gathering the kids' toys, and vacuuming and washing dishes and contributing to the house, because he knows it's everyone's job.
He Shows Affection
A grown-ass dad doesn't believe showing affection somehow makes you "weak" or takes away from your perceived masculinity in some way. Yes, toxic masculinity is still a thing, and plenty of boys are, sadly, still being told they shouldn't show emotions that aren't rooted in anger. But a grown-ass man is going to hug and kiss and cuddle (consensually!) with his children. He's going to show them what we've all known since always: showing affection is a sign of strength, not weakness.
He Compliments His Partner
A father — a good father — lifts you, his parenting partner, up. He doesn't dismiss your feelings or thoughts simply because you've spent your day at home with two unruly children. He doesn't assume his day is any harder than yours. He doesn't downplay the important, and often unnoticed, emotional labor you give your family day in and day out.
He values and respects you. He sees your worth and potential and supports you, no matter what.
He Doesn't Worry About What Other People Think
I love a dad who doesn't care what anyone thinks. Because, yes, even though it's 2018, involved dads who choose and/or end up being stay-at-home parents or who take on a bulk of the parenting responsibilities are still attacked. They're still called "Mr. Mom" and made fun of, as if caring for your children somehow makes you less of a man.
But a grown-ass man doesn't give a you-know-what about the thoughts of narrow-minded people. He doesn't care our culture has to say about him braiding his daughter's hair or throwing on a tutu for a dance recital or encouraging his on to join the school play or buying this toddler son a baby doll. In 2018, a grown-ass dad is 100 percent as much of a parent as moms have always been expected to be.
And that's the way it should be.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.