I was going to call this post “Defeating Stupid Stereotypes About Dads One Stupid One at a Time.” Then I realized that people might think I was referring to stupid dads, and not the stereotypes, and all hell would break loose. It would be a big ol Stereotype Cage Match on this page, the men armed with hunting knives and ninja style weapons; the women with frying pans at the ready, hoping not to get blood on their freshly pressed aprons.
What? That doesn’t sound like reality to you?
Funny, because I’ve read a lot (a lot) of articles and posts lately about the differences between moms and dads. All based on absolutely…um, something. I guess.Okay, dads have penises. Except for Lesbian Dad, who would be first to admit that. And dads, according to census data, earn more on the dollar. They also don’t tend to go back to work after paternity leave the way moms do, and get the sad sympathetic eyes and the hand on a shoulder while a colleague asks, “so…who’s taking care of the kids? Really? Are you okay with that?”
I am happy to support these assertions should you require it.
I have more trouble supporting the idea that men don’t take care of boo-boos, or show emotions, or pack healthy lunches, or change diapers well.
A post by Beta Dad last week pointed me to a post on Babble that I’m sure was written by a lovely guy and doting father (if he’s anything like his wife), that took the unfortunate structure of “reasons moms are better than dads.” I’m sure it was meant as an homage to his wife on Mother’s Day, and would have played a lot better with the title “The things my wife does better than I do.” Still, it’s not hard to see why the doting online dad community which I know and love was grandly annoyed.
But my eyebrows raised about 10 inches higher (a feat only accomplished by my minimal remaining resistance to Botox) when I found similar statements in a major publication yesterday.Working Mother, no less.
Shocked. Shocked, I say!
Evidently men forget sunscreen for the kids, they ignore their kids to check sports scores, they don’t know when their kid is getting sick, they prioritize “important meetings” over chaperoning field trips (uh okay), and they consider beef jerky on a hot dog bun “a real lunch.”
I mean geez, everyone knows beef jerky is better on sourdough.
There are plenty of things Nate does not do well. There are plenty of things I do not do well. If I were to list them all, multiple choice test style, and you had to fill out the little circles with a #2 black pencil next to the name Liz or Nate you might even fail our test.
Forgets sunscreen when we head to the park….. Liz
Makes wholesome lunches…. Nate
Yells at other parent for making peanut butter sandwiches with carrot sticks every day because parent A would rather force the kids to try something healthy and new while parent B is happy just to know the kids are eating anything at all. … Nate
Knows exactly what to do with a hangnail…. Nate
Can’t make eggs… Liz
Gets yelled at for checking the phone too often … Liz
Believes that kids need to lose sometime and not everyone gets a trophy… Liz and Nate (ha, trick question)
Now the thing is, I don’t think we’re like some crazy rule-breakin’ Brooklyn couple who defies every gender stereotype. Nate is not a fan of clothes in hampers. I get insane when I come home to the air freshener on the entryway bookshelf and not where it belongs. Nate is great about taking the kids out to kick around a soccer ball on the weekends. I tend to help the girls pick out their clothes, and yes, I like when they match. Also, his farts? Extremely bad. Extremely.
Put it all together, and I’d imagine we as a couple are more like most of you, where there are some things you do well, some things your partner does well, and thank goodness you found each other, because that yin and yang balances out in the end to create some amazing kids if you’re lucky.
And if your husband isn’t the most nurturing of guys? As Kristen so perfectly, perfectly put it (please read this!) sometimes you just have to give him a chance.
In 2006 (2006!) I wrote a post imploring people to stop calling stay-at-home dads Mr. Mom, or to ask them if they’re “playing mommy.” Oddly, it was called It is 2006, right? And now here it is, 2012, and just this week I got a pitch for a “humorous” new dad gift themed around a man’s innate incompetence around and abject fear of new babies.
It was Nate who taught me how to change a diaper. He always did it better than I did.
The more boys and men grow up to see messages about their deficiencies as caregivers, the more they will assume that it is true. The same way the more girls grow up to see messages about their prime value being sexual, the more they will assume that it is true.
If we continue to let these outmoded gender stereotypes stand, how can we expect fair paternity leave from employers? How can we expect more flex-time for working mothers? How can we expect the class parents to send both of us the emails, and not just the moms?
And so here I am offering another point of view. Specifically because I’m not a dad.
In other words, if only dads are talking about this, then it become a dad issue. It’s not. It’s a family issue.