Wednesday, December 8, 2010

mommy bias (or, how to flip the script)

i'm a few months into my new job as professional daddy, and i have a little bit of a bone to pick with the established order of things. i understand that i am in the minority when it comes to the primary weekday caregiver, but is it really that out of the ordinary that i get puzzled looks while at the store with emmi in a stroller? are other guys so inept that total strangers feel the need to impart unsolicited advice to me? it kinda gets on my nerves that the mom is always the one who controls everything and can make everything work when it comes to kids. it's as if i am some sort of societal anomaly.

even most of the advertising is geared towards the mom. 'choosy moms choose jif.' what about dad? well, either he doesn't give a crap about peanut butter, or he's a peter pan man. enfamil formula is 'trusted by moms and pediatricians.' dad, however, is apparently skeptical. robitussin is 'recommended by dr. mom' because dr. dad is out on the golf course. kix cereal is 'kid tested, mother approved.' meanwhile, dad's choice, the sugar honey sweetieos, sit unopened in the cupboard. why is it automatically assumed that mom unilaterally makes all of the household decisions? and if this is the case, how on earth does the dad claim the title, 'head of the household'? for the most part, dad is like the queen of effin' england - leader of the empire, but having no real power.

sometimes guys are to blame for this reduced stature. nothing pisses me off more than a guy who passes responsibilities off to the mom. 'i'm the man, it's not my job.' it is neanderthals like that that is making my life more difficult. something i've learned in my year of being a dad is that in parenting, there is no such thing as 'her job' and 'his job.' any and everything that mom can do, dad should be able to do just as well, with the exception of those things that are anatomically impossible. i will never claim to be a hell of a breastfeeder.

i'll admit, i used to play the clueless dopey dad while in public, cause it got a few laughs. i stopped that though because it played into a stereotype i wanted no part of. i am still by no means perfect, but i'd like to think i'm always improving.

and for the record, skippy is my peanut butter of choice.


  1. My husband is the typical of this stereotype. We are going to an office party that provides child care for the duration. He said that he needs to know if we'll be taking Zoë and that they request us to bring toys/bouncy to keep her entertained. This threw up read flags as she is only 4 months old and with how many other kids are in the shop I was fearful that she would be ignored or forgotten. I asked him, "do you feel comfortable leaving her there?" I thought it was a great question as these are his coworkers watching the children. His response, "Tt's not up to me. You're the mom. Your decision."

    I'm very greatful for your post that not all dads out there are bone heads! And that you are very comfortable with your skills as a daddy! GREAT JOB!

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  3. thanks liz! exactly! i mean, my wife is a kindergarten teacher, and has been a nanny before, so i defer to her expertise often. that doesn't mean i have an opinion of my own (and if you ask her, i have plenty of opinions!) or that i can't make a decision on my own. it's either an unwillingness to accept responsibility, or a lack of confidence in one's decision-making.

  4. I totally agree with you, but don't feel alone in the unsolicited advice department. I'm a new mom and even an old male neighbor wants to tell me if it's too windy for my baby.