In a perfect world, where fairness rules all and Donald Trump isn't running for president, every parenting decision would be made by two consenting, understanding, 100%-on-the-same-page adults. However, this isn't a perfect world because, well, a Donald Trump presidency is looming. Some parenting decisions are easier to make than others and can easily accommodate both parent's beliefs, points of view or anything else that may impact their choices. Other decisions, however, are vastly more complicated and can't be mutually decided on by both partners because, well, the ramifications of those decisions aren't felt equally by both partners. Which is why there are some parenting decisions that dads seriously just don't get a say in.
This isn't about going back on gender equality and this isn't about upholding the fictitious and stereotypical idea of feminism that says, "girls rule, boys drool." No, this is about being realistic about pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum life, parenthood, and how they can all affect two consenting adults differently. Even the most put-together, cohesive of partners will be impacted differently by the parenting choices they make, which is why (sometimes) one partner gets more pull than the other.
Is it fair? Well, I think so, although I can already hear the mumbles of many who will adamantly disagree. The burden of these decisions aren't always shared equally, and if they are going to weigh heavily on one person more than the other, that person should own a commanding percentage of the decision making process. This is, honestly, what compromise looks like. A healthy relationship is never 50/50, but a varying degree of fractions that change over time depending on what one partner requires from the other. When it comes to parenthood, sometimes the mom requires more decision making power in order to ensure pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum experiences are healthy and safe, and that she can parent to the best of her ability. The pendulum will eventually swing in the dad's direction, trust me.
So, with that in mind, here are nine parenting decisions that dads just don't get a say in:
How And Where You Labor And Deliver
Sure, you should both feel comfortable with your doctor/doula/midwife, however, but the mom needs to be the most comfortable. However she decides she wants to deliver (whether it's a scheduled c-section or sans-drugs in a pool at home) it's ultimately her decision. After all, she's the one who has to push a human being out of her body or have one cut from her body and she's the one who has to endure the pain of either and she's the one who has to potentially poop in front of strangers. She is the one who needs to feel safe, secure, strong and, honestly, no one else can make the decisions that will aid her in doing one of the most empowering, scary, painful and wonderful things she'll ever do.
Whether Or Not You Breastfeed
If it's not your body, it's not your decision. It's honestly that easy. If a mother doesn't feel comfortable breastfeeding, or just chooses not to breastfeed for a number of reasons, that's the end of that conversation. Forcing a woman to breastfeed when she can't, when it's painful, if she doesn't feel secure or, well, at all, is just wrong.
When To Have Another Baby
Obviously procreating should be a mutual decision, made by two people after careful consideration. However, if a woman isn't ready to have a baby (physically, mentally or otherwise) she should never be forced to have a baby. And, of course, the same goes with a man. (Dads, no, you shouldn't be forced to hand over your sperm whenever a woman demands it. Gender equality FTW!) But the tole pregnancy, labor and delivery take on a woman's body, a woman's emotions, and literally everything in between, makes this decision not entirely 50/50. Family planning should be just that; a plan made by the family/future family. But if the woman (the person who has to physically do the job for 40+ weeks) isn't ready or willing or able to do the job, then that's that. Your vote counts dads, to be sure, but it just counts less because, well, you're not pushing and/or having someone cut out of your body.
Whether Or Not Mom Goes Back To Work
Again, financial decisions should be made by both parties, especially when you're a cohesive family unit and you're working together. Ideally, both parents will work towards deciding what works best for their unique family together and, ideally, this will happen before they have kids. However, the gender stereotypes that often shape these decisions (like the mom quitting her job, while the dad continues to work because that's how it has "always" been done) have no business entering the conversation. The decisions made, especially when it comes to ongoing or potentially ceased careers, have to be mutual and fair. Maybe that decision ends with the dad staying at home, instead of the mom. Maybe it ends with both parents working. Maybe it ends with the mom staying at home, because she wants to and not because she feels obligated or pressured to. Either way, while dad has a say in whether or not mom works or doesn't work, it's ultimately her decision, as it's her career, her sense of self and her happiness at stake. Many may call that selfish, but the days of martyr moms is coming to an end. Yay feminism.
Any Postpartum Care A Mom May Need
Every woman's postpartum experience is just as unique as her pregnancy, labor and delivery. An estimated 15 percent of women will experience some form of postpartum depression (PPD) and the treatment plan for PPD should be discussed between the mom and her physician. That's it. At the end of the day, every woman is more than capable of making her own medical decisions, and while there's nothing wrong with discussing those decisions with a partner, they're still exclusively hers to make.
Who Gets To Be In The Room When The Baby Is Born
Sorry fellas, but if your partner doesn't want your mother in the labor and delivery room, your mother doesn't step foot in the labor and delivery room. Again, a laboring woman gets to be an entirely selfish woman. She's pushing and/or having someone cut out of her body, so whatever she needs to facilitate that, she gets. Having someone in the room that may make you feel more comfortable, but will annoy her/upset her/anger her/distract her from doing an extremely intense, absolutely amazing thing, is counterproductive. In order to ensure that mom and baby are healthy, mom gets to make all labor and delivery decisions (that are medically safe, of course).
Who Visits, When And For How Long, After The Baby Is Born
Take it from me and any woman who has ever had a baby, be it vaginally or via c-section; you're sore. You're so, unbelievably, painfully sore. Not only does your entire body ache, but you're emotionally drained, physically exhausted and mentally taxed in a way you didn't previously believe possible. Having visitors, while sometimes nice and very welcomed, can also be draining and, well, your reservoir is already running on empty. I'm not saying the dad isn't tired too, but he didn't just give birth so, no, he doesn't get to decide who visits and for how long they visit and when they visit. That's up to mom. She has bonding to do, healing to do, adjusting to do and sleeping to do. If she decides she can or wants to fit anything else into that schedule, that's entirely up to her.
When And How Postpartum Sex Happens
Like any other time in a woman's life, the only person who gets to decide when she has sex, is her. But especially for a new mom, who has spent her time healing and may feel uncomfortable and is acutely aware that postpartum sex is going to be (probably) painful. She's the only person who gets to decide when she's ready and how she'll be ready. Of course, this only means if dad is into it too, as he shouldn't be forced to have sex if he isn't ready or willing either. Basically, no one is forcing anyone to do something they're not ready, able or willing to do. Consent for everyone!
What To Name The Baby
Ha, just getting, you guys should both decide this. But if you can't and you're totally at an impasse and you need some sort of tie-breaker, well, tie goes to whoever ends up carrying the baby for 9+ months. Them's the breaks, gentlemen.