The other day I saw a meme somewhere online scolding people for uttering the phrase “just a mom.” I’m not here to talk about that. We all know what is wrong with that.
Instead let’s talk about dads. Let’s talk about this idea that somehow being a present and participating father is a big deal. I mean, it is a big deal, as much as being a hands on mother is a big deal. So why do people still act like it is more than that?
Oh yes I know that “traditionally” the moms have been the hands on parents while dad was busy slaving away bringing home the bacon. Or so I’ve been told. Forty some years ago when I was a kid I also had full on co-parents. I don’t recall a lot of just one on one time with my dad but that is only because we did most things as a family unit. I’ll be honest I’m not sure if dad was any good at changing diapers, my memories don’t got back quite that far, but he was always around and definitely an active parent. I can’t imagine my mother having it any other way.
And even if it was the norm in the past (and I admit that in many cases it was), the past is no more. We have embraced and championed the realization that the rolls of mothers have changed. We have been doing that for decades now. It’s time to do the same for dads.
Yes, it is happening, slowly. More and more men are realizing that when it comes to parenting it is still very much a mom’s world and are working to change that. They are speaking out against brands (Huggies and Dove are two recent ones that come to mind) that portray men as bumbling fools who would rather watch “the game” whatever that game may be, than be tentative, competent fathers. There was also the Playskool Twitter blunder, although quite frankly I think you have to be pretty thin skinned to find that offensive.
There are “daddy bloggers” (and I don’t use that term with any negativity as I am a proud “mommy blogger”) out there too making a splash. Some of them, probably even most of them, push the movement forward, but there are a few that do not. Dad’s writing about parenting, and all that entails, is a good thing (for a great read check out The Busy Dad Blog). When we see them sharing stories, concerns, dreams like we are so use to seeing mother’s share, it brings some normalcy, some “this is everyday life” to the reality of fatherhood. It’s good for brands, it’s good for dads, it’s generally just good for everyone to accept that dads are equals when it comes to bringing up the kids.
We have a long ways to go. Just ask my daughter’s dad. I don’t know how many times he has come home from an outing with my daughter, perturbed at comments like “Oh, you are baby sitting today!”. It’s called parenting people. And dads are every bit as competent at it as moms. Not only are they competent but they are passionate about being good parents.
As of 2011 12% of two parent families in Canada had a stay at home dad. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of a stay at home dad was a novelty. It was the stuff of jokes and stigma. Not so much anymore. And you know what? The stay at home dads are doing a great job. They aren’t just fumbling their way through it.
So would I call my girl’s dad, or any dad, stay at home or otherwise, “Just a dad”? No I wouldn’t, but there are times, lots and lots of times, when I would say he is “Just being a dad” because that is simply how it should be.