Sometimes it’s easy to forget that just as there are stereotypes that (some) men impose on women, and criticisms that should never be leveled because they are sexist, the pendulum swings both ways and it is perhaps most evident in the area of parenting.
As you may know Sara and I are expecting the arrival of our first child in early August. This will be my first child, and Sara’s fourth. With babies and parenting in mind Sara linked me to an article by Aaron Gouveia over on the HuffPo – It’s time to stop treating dads like idiots.
Aaron reached his breaking point when sent a picture of a onesie that said “This shirt is Daddy-proof!” and I find myself totally sympathizing with him.
The same people — mostly moms — who claim to be overworked and desperate for dads to do more are all too often the first ones to criticize them for not doing things right when they do step up. And by right, I mean their way. I’ve seen dads criticized and made fun of for how they dress the baby. For how they feed the baby. For how they handle things differently than moms. Despite the fact that most first-time moms are just as clueless and confused as first-time dads, it’s chic to make fun of the dads, while moms are assumed to know absolutely everything. As if the parenting instruction manual is imprinted in the female DNA. The fact that mothers face an unfair societal expectation to be a perfect parent from the get-go is a separate, albeit deserving, issue. But it’s no reason to crap all over the very same people you just asked to help more.
I’m a very lucky guy in that I have a very supportive wife, who has more faith in me than I do myself, and is already experienced at navigating the oft-convoluted and confusing paths of child rearing. I shall have a guide.
That said, I like to think that even without Sara to back me up, as a reasonably intelligent person with a fair degree of common sense, the ability to use Google, and to read and comprehend above a fifth grade level, that I could do just as well as most first time mothers. Heck, with the exceptions of giving birth and breastfeeding, I’m willing to bet that I could do better than a fair chunk of first time mothers, and many repeating mothers.
Let’s face it – not all mothers are great moms/parents!
What I’m saying here is that first-time dads deserve some slack. Within the space of a few weeks two of my friends shall join me in the becoming first time parents and one of them shall be the stay-at-home parent. I’m confident that we’ll all do rather well even if I am also rather terrified.
Sure we’ll make some novice mistakes. Sure we’ll drop some bottles, get peed on,
feed the baby beer and do something terribly stupid at least once, but be honest, doesn’t everyone? After all, that’s how mommy learns!