What is it about men and babies? Why do women typically swoon at the sight of a father playing with their child, being attentive, and literally just being a parent to their kid like moms do all day, every day?
Remember that one scene in Taylor Swift’s music video for “The Man”? She dresses up like a dude and depicts different scenarios of men like being a boss, “manspreading” on the subway and, well, being a man.
However, there’s one scene that has always stuck out to me. Taylor, dressed like a guy, acts out a scene with a child, seemingly being the father to that child. Dad Taylor simply has the child in her presence while on the phone and not doing much of anything, while women gather around Swift in drag and swoon and unveil a “World’s Greatest Dad” sign. While Swift is showing this double standard with major hyperbole, she’s not far off. One dad on Reddit knows this for fact.
In the parenting subreddit, a dad of a 3-year-old explained that he is “sick” of the way people view him when it comes to his role as a fad. “Whenever I’m out with just my son, people always comment that it’s cute that I’m spending time with my son. People constantly imply that I as a father do this as some sort of novelty,” he wrote.
He continued, “He’s my son, we go out and hang. We enjoy each other’s company. I know how to parent, I do it everyday. I’m not just ‘winging it’ or just doing the fun stuff. I hear these comments and all I want to do is scream in the person’s face that ‘I PARENT TOO!’”
This is a double standard that moms know all too well. Moms are not ever smiled at for pushing a stroller or taking their kid to the park. In fact, there is someone somewhere who will find a way to shame that mom, I’m sure. While dads tend to be doted on, praised for doing the absolutely bare minimum (“Wow! You changed a diaper?! What a great dad!”), and seemingly can get away with a blue ribbon in “Dad” by not doing much.
In a disheartening 2022 study, researchers in the Netherlands found that despite an uneven division of housework and childcare between men and women in the home, the majority of men saw the split as fair. “A small majority of women and two-thirds of men perceived the division of housework to be fair. For childcare, these figures even amounted to 80% for men and 70% for women,” the study reported.
This could explain why things are still the way they are in 2022. If the division of labor is perceived as fair even if it is not — why change a thing?
Traditional gender roles and society’s inability to change those roles (or throw them out the window), does not seem to be coming anytime soon, but hopefully with more men like this fed up dad on Reddit expressing their frustrations (that moms have had for awhile), maybe things can change.
“In general, our traditional values are shifting. Men are becoming much more involved in raising the children and helping with household tasks,” Joanna Seidel, a Toronto-based family therapist, explained to Global News. “But women have traditionally been in the roles of taking care of the children and the home, so it’s considered novel when men do it.”
Many dads commented in support of the Reddit post, explaining their own experiences of being a dad.
One dad shared a story about some coworkers belittling his fathering skills, “... at work I'll be like ‘sorry I'm 2 mins late, my kids’ bus was late today’ and someone will say ‘Oh doing the Mr. Mom act HAW HAW’ like no f—nut, I'm their father, I pick them up from the bus stop because I like them and it's my responsibility.’
Voicing her frustration with the double standard, a mom commented, “I have heard too many men say they are ‘babysitting’ when they are actually ‘parenting’ i.e. ‘I can’t go to the game, Bob. Wife needs me to babysit.’”
She also mentioned that men like the OP need to help make the change in this stigma because, let’s be real, that’s who needs to express their frustration in order to make the change.
“It is a mindset that men like you need to help change. Just tell them ‘I am his parent. It’s what all men should do with their children.’ It’s a long hard road. Keep being a good dad. We need more men like you!!”
Another mom agreed, but also noted that she wasn’t going to praise him for his thoughts on this.
“As a mother who feels like people never appreciate her effort, I appreciate you! It’s so tough when society is so gendered and think mom raises the kids, dad works,” she wrote, adding, “You’re seen. (I almost celebrated you but that would defeat the purpose of this post. lol)”