When our kids were little, my husband would take them out when he'd run errands. He'd come home so happy because of the constant praise he'd receive. "You've got this dad thing down," an elderly woman once told him. Good for him, I guess? I mean, I don't think I've ever heard a single compliment thrown my way while out with our kids, but I'm used to being "just a parent." And while every mom has some choice words when she's told her partner is a "great dad" for changing a diaper, every mom also probably understands most people mean no harm and are just trying to encourage and motivate the fragile male ego.
I've said it before and I'll say it again and until I'm blue in the face: we need to stop praising dads for being dads and if we won't, then we need to start praising moms for being moms. We shouldn't be praising dads and, in the the same breath, judging moms. We shouldn't be telling a dad he is brave for "babysitting" his newborn, then telling moms they are selfish for going back to work. That's not the way it works, people. So, let's get one thing straight: if we don't stop praising dads for being dads, then moms get a clean slate. But since we know that isn't going to happen in the near future, it'll be really helpful to us moms if we stopped putting men on a pedestal for doing the bare minimum.
It is already extremely difficult to be a mom in today's society. The judgement and the competition can be excruciating. When we add this hyperbolic praise for dads, it often comes at the expense of the moms. And it shouldn't. Moms have been busting their butts tending to their kids' every single need since the beginning of time and they are hardly ever even acknowledged for their undying hard work, let alone applauded. So if you're a hardworking mom and someone decides to call your partner "brave" for changing a damn diaper or something, here's what you should say:
"It's Not Rocket Science"
Did you know changing a diaper requires virtually no skill? Not at first anyway. Newborns are generally pretty still and changing their diaper is a breeze. Now, when they get all squirmy, that's when the trouble starts, but it's still not like you're having to solve a high-level mathematical equation to get the job done.
In any case, changing a diaper is one of the easiest newborn responsibilities, so to praise something so simple seems to be somewhat condescending to the dad, no? I mean, if someone praised me for brushing my teeth every day, I'd think someone was patronizing me.
"I Just Changed 345 Diapers"
It's not like I'm keeping score or anything, but how come no one patted me on the back when I changed a gazillion diapers last week? How come no one is singing my praises for pushing this baby out of my vagina? Or for allowing this baby to literally nurse my nipples off? No one was rolling out the red carpet after I jumped into the mom role immediately postpartum with no training or experience and with intense baby blues. No one was like, "Oh my gosh, look what Dina can do," when I juggled work and parenting.
"Thank You For Proving Dads Are Still Put On A Pedestal For Doing The Bare Minimum"
That dad character, man. He's so brave, isn't he? Look at him holding his own child like he's holding his own child. Look at him being a parent like he's actually a parent. Isn't it incredible just how little the people in our society expect from dads? Like, all a dad has to do is look at his kid and somewhere a unicorn gets its wings.
"If You Enjoyed This, You Should See His Other Tricks"
He is also able to feed the baby, dress the baby, hold the baby, rock the baby, and completely take care of the baby. I even — and this may be difficult to believe — leave him alone with the baby for hours. Sometimes, he sings to the baby, goes food shopping with the baby, drops the baby off at daycare, and even remembers to pick the baby up at the end of the day. This dad is very well trained and earns treats for his good work every day.
"Thank You. He's Also A Great Partner."
You're right, he's amazing for changing that diaper. He's also just amazing. He's a great dad and a great partner. He takes care of his family and he is an actual, present dad, which wasn't that common just a decade ago. He's how ever dad should be: always around, a true part of the family, and a family man. So, thank you for noticing how great he is with the baby. I'm sure you meant well with your comment and I hope you'll pay the same amount of attention to moms who change diapers every damn 30 minutes.
"I Don't Know If You Know This, But I'm A Parent Too"
Listen, parenting isn't about keeping score, but if we are going to praise dads for everything they do, then let's do the same with moms, shall we? I mean, it seems only fair. Praising dads for something as simple as changing a diaper, and then turning around and judging a mom for something as simple as not changing a diaper, is a convoluted way of going about celebrating parents. If we are going to praise dad for everything they do, maybe we should stop criticizing moms for everything they do. Thanks.
"There's No Extra Credit For Doing The Required Work"
If a man happens to get lucky enough to get a woman to agree to bring a child into the world with him then he is signing up for all parental duties. If both parents are in the picture then both parents should be equally in the picture. No one parent gets extra credit for being a parent. As a teacher, I don't give extra credit for doing the required work. Instead, extra credit is for special occasions. A man can earn extra credit if he sends his partner on vacation and stays home with the kids. Then, and only then, can you can stroke his ego a little and tell him he's a great dad and partner.
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