I was talking with a friend yesterday, and we happened on the subject of the dumb dad stereotype. For some reason, advertisers and a substantial number of uninformed people around the world continue to think dads are simply non-committal buffoons one breath away from maiming or ruining their children. Which I get, because I can be a bit of a buffoon. That’s fair. But is it because I’m a dad?
Sure, I’ve made some less than stellar decisions with my kids. I’ve accidentally fed them expired food. I’ve discounted their feelings when I should’ve listened more closely. I’ve panicked when they’ve suddenly disappeared and they weren’t in sight. But is it because I’m a father?
Making men out to be idiots paints a broad brush stroke across half of our population. While we break men down with petty depictions of childishness or stoic numbness, we simultaneously lionize them when we they complete the simplest of parenting acts, for parenting in any way. Father’s Day becomes a parade of saccharine sentiment in an attempt to compensate for minimizing fathers and their contributions for the rest of the year. Screw that. I enjoy the validation but not if it means I get a ticker tape parade for taking care of things at home.
But one of the the craziest aspects of all this madness is how it perpetuates sexist stereotypes about women choosing inept partners. It’s a form of sexism that hurts women by making this pervasive idea the default viewpoint. One that glorifies men when they actually do something as a parent, while making women the bearer of responsibility and hardship because they’re the “true” parent.
As Father’s Day draws nearer, I was compelled to ask a bunch of dads for their favorite pictures of them holding their kids. What I saw impacted me so profoundly, I had to share it. Captivating images, heart-wrenching stories, perseverance, sadness, undying love, desperation, hilarity — it reads like a war novel or an epic. There’s something profound about this experience, in spite of the triviality and dull routine. It’s bother and a blessing. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to these fathers, and witness their visual story.
You can read the full descriptions over here!
So, men do give a shit, especially if we’re given support and encouragement. Some of us may need more prompting than others, I’m not debating that point, but some of us may need very little. An invitation to be the parent we need to be for our kids, and dropping this ‘you don’t get it’ act can help usher in a better footing for men and women. When men take paternal leave it strengthens maternal leave. Early involvement strengthens the bond for both kids and fathers. But when you drop us in a trash can for the sake of a joke, you undercut our ability to help or participate. You discourage that equality. It’s pretty straight-forward. Further, it reflects on the partners who’ve chosen a disengaged person to embark on one of life’s most complicated and fraught journeys.
I don’t make mistakes because I’m a father. I make them in spite of my title, because I’m learning. And that’s what parents do when they care.
Completely Useless (But Funny) Parenting Stuff
If you want to up your parenting game, um… you’re on the wrong site.