Are Dad’s Second Class Parents?

I read so many blogging articles about how hard it is being a Mum, what an uphill struggle it can be raising small children. It would seem that the main responsibility falls on the Mother, from clothing the baby, to counselling teenagers us Mum’s seem to do it all. But do we? My other half gets pretty irritated about what he calls the ‘martyrdom of Motherhood’. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that he doesn’t appreciate all the things Mothers do, but he feels that most Dad’s don’t get the credit they deserve. Are all of us Mum’s just so wrapped up in our own day-to-day struggles of weaning, potty training and mini meltdowns that we don’t always appreciate what Dad’s are doing?

Dad cuddling baby
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

With Fathers Day around the corner, it seems a good time to stand back and look at the Modern Dad’s role, where doe he fit into a society that seems overly Mummy-centric? We seem to have recently taken to putting motherhood on a pedestal, but women have been Mothers for years. Maybe it is the sudden surge on social media of Mum’s sharing their stories that has highlighted the often thankless tasks that Mum’s do. Yet society is changing, I hear more and more of Dad’s staying home to care for children and what about all those Dad’s who have split from partners and have the children at weekends. Surely they are going through the same things, yet we hear so little from them. Is it that Dad’s are quietly getting on with raising their children away from the spotlight, or could it be that Dad’s have a totally different style of parenting meaning that the things that we as women struggle to deal with they simply don’t have to contend with.

This got me thinking about what Pudding & Pie get up to with their Dad when I am on shift. I have had people ask how Mr Pud copes when I go to work for 13 hours – what a question, of course he copes they are his children. Like a Al Ferguson from The Dad Network said, it’s called ‘Parenting not Babysitting’! I don’t know whether it’s because he is calmer, or because being with Daddy is a novelty but the kids automatically seem to behave better. They seem to understand that certain behaviours jut will not be tolerated so they don’t even try it. General tasks do seem easier just by the fact that Dad is a man, things like negotiating a trip out for example. The male brain doesn’t seem to sweat the small stuff, if I take the kids out, I like to be prepared for every eventuality. Not so Dad, he packs essentials, milk, nappies and his wallet. He doesn’t plan the route, or where they will eat for lunch, he flies by the seat of his pants, working on the mood of the kids and his own. It doesn’t stress him if he is out and he needs something he hasn’t got, he goes and buys what he needs. Even simple things like there is no lift, well that’s no issue, ‘I’am Man I will carry the pram up 3 flights of stairs’! I think the male brain is just wired totally different – they don’t get that ‘Mum Guilt’, they are not striving for that unobtainable perfect parenting that drives us as women round the twist.

Dad and Child at the Beach
cocoparisienne / Pixabay

Ok so he can cope with the kids you all cry – but what about the other household stuff? Well we laugh about Pink and Blue jobs in this house. In all honesty there is no job that is only pink or blue. We are a modern couple with modern values, we are not living out some 1950’s sitcom. I am more than capable of mowing the lawn, unblocking the loo, painting the house and organising the household bills. Equally so my other half is a great cook, can work the washing machine and has a hoovering obsession. What?! Yes he is exceptionally domesticated, maybe he is a rarity but I would imagine that in a society that marries later and later that most men will spend a proportion of their time living on their own before moving in with a girlfriend. How do we as women think they all survived before we came along? My other half spent 9 years living on his own before we met, of course he can an iron his own work uniform! When I head out to work I am safe in the knowledge that not only will the kids be fine but that the house will be cleaned, the washing will be done and there will be a hot meal and a glass of wine waiting for me on my return. What more can a girl ask for?

Male Nurse
TheHilaryClark / Pixabay

On top of being a great Dad and Husband, my other half also holds down a very responsible job. The stress of this job and the ridiculous shift patterns can really take its toll on family life. Not to mention the ever-growing concern that Mr Hunt and his band of cronies will be after our unsociable hours pay before long. A house of two nurses, is not exactly a cash rich environment so while I may end up juggling the childcare to fit round our shifts, my other half is juggling our finances around to cover the cost of raising a small family. I can feel him in bed at night worrying next to me about whether he will need to work any extra shifts and if so will there be time to do this? He misses his kids when he goes to work, his days are 14 hours long by the time he has commuted, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the shifts that run over or the on-calls he has to work. There already seems to be a lot going on in a Dad’s world doesn’t there? Of course he does moan about all these things, I mean after all he is only human! But I can see why he gets on his high-horse about the perceived idolisation of Mothers.

He is doing the same job as me, without the support network of other Dads or the majority of society it would seem. I think as Mum’s we forget that most of us are pretty lucky to have other Mum friends, someone to bounce ideas off or just to meet up with for an hour on those days when the kids are driving you nuts. But I don’t think men have it so easy – its pretty hard to make Dad friends unless your school friends have kids. Most baby classes are filled with Mum’s and I think most men would feel uncomfortable approaching a woman they had never met before and suggesting a play date! When I go out with the kids, people usually stop and talk to me, especially if one of the little darlings is being a little less well-behaved than is socially acceptable. I don’t think a Dad would get quite the same level of support from strangers.

Dad and Baby on Beach
reneasmussen / Pixabay

Personally I do think that Dad’s get a bit of a rough deal, they are definitely seen as the second class parent, a bit of an after thought. In a society that is trying to promote parental leave and equality we need to take sometime to celebrate Dad’s. Parenting is a partnership, he may not be there to change every nappy, dry every tear or wash paint off the dog. But whether you live together or apart raising your kids is a joint effort and both parties need recognition for their role. I am not saying all Dad’s are amazing, but remember not all Mum’s are amazing either! Maybe if as a collective we all spent a little less time looking at whats Dad’s don’t do and a bit more time focusing on what they do do we could appreciate them more. As women we do have the propensity to take over and try to do it all, Super Mum, Loving Wife, Best Friend, but you know what? We really don’t have to. If we could just accept that things don’t always have to be done a certain way and let Dad’s step up to the parenting plate then maybe we wouldn’t need society to blow our Mothering trumpets and we could celebrate parenting equality.

This Mum's Life

47 thoughts on “Are Dad’s Second Class Parents?”

  1. Wow I really enjoyed this. It can be easy to get caught up in the mom of it all and forget what all the dad’s do. I am also lucky to have a very supportive and present father as a husband. I also know what you mean about the dad being more laid back. I think part of it is that society doesn’t have such high expectations and like you mentioned they tend to not be ingrained with the “mom guilt”. Thanks for sharing!#triballove

  2. In my home I really do everything for the kids from getting them up in the morning to school runs, dentist, doctors, activities, school stuff, tea, buying clothes, juggling to make sure everything works but in return my partner works a long hard day, normally leaves before we get up and normally home once the kids are fed! I do however make sure he is in to do bath time and story time each night so he gets and they get to enjoy quality time together. I also know he appreciates what I do and always tells me what a good mum I am and that counts for a lot and he always makes sure there is a bottle of wine in the fridge on a Friday so I can relax after a busy week!

  3. I think mums as a collective overthink being a mum – dads just get on and do it – how refreshing? Personally, I would imagine they get far more memory making time with the kids because they aren’t sweating the small stuff – I reckon we could learn a lot from Dads – my husband has a brilliant relationship with the kids as he doesn’t get embroiled with the rubbish – he’s got all the time in the world for them – I certainly could do with some of what he’s having for sure. Thanks for making me think #triballove x

    1. I also reckon my other half has more memory making time with the kids – I wish I could be more like him and just let it go from time to time. I keep trying to step back and not stress but like you say its almost like as a collective we Mum’s just have to overthink everything…

  4. I definitely appreciate your post. It’s a subject I feel strongly about and have even wanted to post about the issue myself. Dads should be treated as equals and not ridiculed. The negative stereotyping of fathers is damaging and in this day and age needs to stop. #TribalLove

    1. Agree Agree Agree! How can we stop the negativity? I think in a way the more people are negative about Dad’s the more it becomes a self fufilling prophecy. Dad’s think we think they are rubbish so they just don’t bother and then its a vicious circle. Society need to stop being so unfair and see Dad’s as equals to Mum’s

  5. I agree that there definitely aren’t the same type of support networks for dads as for mums, which can make it harder in a lot of ways. I’ve been lucky that my husband’s work is flexible, so he’s been a super-involved parent from day one – I can’t imagine getting through this first year without him! When I go back to work, the Popple will be spending more time with Daddy than me – and I know she’ll love it because he’s great with her. #triballove

    1. They should run Dad only events – my friend used to send her partner and daughter to a Dad meet up on Saturdays where they had bacon sandwiches while the kids played. Think that’s a pretty ace idea! You and Popple are lucky to have your other half around so much to help out and I am sure she will enjoy her Daddy days when you return to work x

  6. I agree with you. I see parenting as being about team work and we share everything out equally and we always have done, partly because we don’t have family nearby. I do agree that there is a mum martyrdom but if there is any incident that involves a child being harmed etc then the press are always very quick to point out the failings of the mum, not the parents, it normally is the mum that gets all the focus, a classic example of this being the press this week and the reaction to the the three year old that got into the gorilla enclosure. The press were quick to tell us how the mum had failed but the dad was there too!

    1. Parenting is all about team work in my opinion – after all it takes two to tango eh? But I see your point about society pointing fingers at mothers but again I think that this is due to the old fashioned values people have about mothers being solely in charge of raising children. Maybe if we could change this view then parents would be blamed and praised in equal measure.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this. It’s something I talk about and think about a lot as people make assumptions or jokes which suggest dads can’t parent as effectively or efficiently. Obviously we are only 6 months in but my partner is an amazing dad and in general he runs the house and does the cooking etc – all while working too! He works afternoon/evenings so we get a big chunk of the day time with him at home which is lovely and has definitely helped us adjust to becoming parents and working as a team. I definitely think the media and public perceptions have a part to play – mum’s are often the scapegoat and the ones looked at for explanations. And conversely to your point about strangers helping you when the kids play up I think people are more likely to be rude or unsympathetic to mothers struggling in public. A friend and I were in a student cafe/ bar that’s family friendly with our babies both feeding, her baby started crying and some people having a business meeting (totally inappropriate venue for it) were loudly tutting and shushing him, glaring at us both. We both felt that wouldn’t have happened if we’d been with our partners. Anyway I am rambling but loved this post. #triballove

    1. I can’t believe those rude people in the cafe – I would have had given them a disgusting look. If they want to hold a business meeting they should do in their office… Any way aside from that I think you are right that Mum’s are often scapegoated about their childrens behaviour, however I still think this stems from the fact that society has this perception that Dad’s only go to work and that Mums run the house and bring up the children. If we could change this perception and make people realise that parenting is equal on both sides maybe this would stop?

  8. I’m so glad you have linked this post you have highlighted the old fashioned out of date sterotypical values that society continues to associate with dads and quite honestly they belong back in 1950 I have written many times about this subject and like your husband I can apply myself to anything a mum can except of course giving birth and breastfeeding.
    Dads are seen as incapable by a large part of society hopefully it’s changing but it will take a long time great post thanks for linking to the #binkylinky

    1. I think you are doing a sterling job highlighting the many roles of a modern dad. Hopefully with more posts like yours (and mine) we can start to move society’s thinking out of the 1950’s and into the 21st century

  9. Love this. I too think Dads get a rough deal sometimes. My OH works away a lot & although it’s tough for me being left holding the baby as it were, I think it’s even tougher for him, being away from us. And, as you say, it’s so often made much worse by the fact that guys don’t talk!! High fives to the dads, I say! Have a beer (right after you’ve finished hoovering, ha!)

    1. It must be hard for both of you, but hopefully that means you appreciate your time together as a family and that he does pick up that hoover before he grabs a cold one from the fridge 🙂 x

  10. This is a good post! Dads can do it too… not to say that they all do of course, but are they more than capable? of course they are! We do have a bit of 1950’s role call in our house I have to admit, but I think that is because I don’t work, so it just makes sense in or house that I do all the ‘house’ stuff… even though of course he can, he’s not an idiot lol, but i’d feel a bit shit if I made him go to work running his busy company for all hours and then expected him to pick up the hoover and make dinner, while Ive been lunching with the girls or getting my hair done haha, so it works for us. He has an ok relationship with the girls, was better when they were younger.. but god, my own relationship with the teen and preteen is only ok at times too (they are hormonal shites quite a bit these days) even though I am the primary ‘care giver’.. The overall balance of your post is spot on though, dads don’t get the recognition they deserve, mental note made to praise him/them a bit more 🙂 loved this! #bigpinklink

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post and agree with the comments you make about you doing more household stuff cos you are home all day, that makes total sense. But least you know he could and would do it if you needed him too! Hope you told him he was fab when he got home x

  11. That was really insightful and I agree with you. While I was married to my ex, taking care of the kids and household duties was only something he did when he was in the mood for it but since our split almost four years ago, he has really stepped up, especially as a parent and I have had my blinders taken off and have accepted that we parent differently but neither of us is a second-class parent. At the end of the day, we both love our children with all our hearts and would do anything for them. We each have our own relationship with our boys and that’s okay because our kids love us for it. Modern dads are so much more involved now than when I was a kid. My father was an abusive dead-beat dad so I had no true example of what a good father is but my boys will have a completely different experience thanks to their awesome dad! It may not have worked out between him and I but I try to tell him at least once a week that I think he’s doing a great job! Love this post! Popping over from #bigpinklink

    1. Thanks for this great comment – its great to hear how much you appreciate your kids Dad even though you guys aren’t together. Modern Dad’s certainly seem to be stepping up to the plate more than our fathers used, and we need to make sure that they feel appreciated x

  12. You are so right that Dads do just get on with it. One of the biggest things we disagree on even now with our teenagers is when we go out as a family or on holiday, I need a plan. He doesn’t, he likes to fly by the seat of his pants and introduce some adventure. The kids love him for it. Unlike your hubby though he doesn’t clean or cook but is very good at fixing things! It is good to stand back and do some Daddy adoration every now and again. Thanks. #bigpinklink

    1. I wish I didn’t always need a plan – but I just can’t help myself. Am pretty sure when the kids get older they will laugh at my lists and think that Dad is cool… Still when it comes to wielding a screw driver I am definitely Mrs Fix it in this house, where as he is the ironing queen! x

  13. I absolutely love this and I had to read it as I think dads do get a raw deal. It genuinely infuriates Mother that everything is geared towards mothers – like MOTHERcare for example. My Father has been an equal parent from the start*, yet he has been treated as the second class parent (we went to a class and the staff offered him extra help as Mother wasn’t there). It’s tough being a parent, whatever gender you are (not that I think I could ever be accused of challenging behaviour… 😉 ) #bigpinklink

    *in the real world, I went back to work whilst hubby stayed home on Shared Parental Leave which was a HUGE thing for some people to understand. But it worked AMAZINGLY for us x

    1. Love that you took shared parental leave. I read an article the other day saying that this hadn’t really taken off that well and that employers weren’t that supportive so its great to hear that it worked for you x

  14. I loved this and so agree. My husband is one of those men that gives 110% into our family! He is the best dad and does this despite having so much on his work plate! We definitely need to appreciate them more! #bigpinklink

  15. I think you’re so right. Dads don’t get the same level of support as we do. I remember at baby groups, the odd man that turned up would be pretty much ignored. I’d always make a point of having a chat and trying to include them. Men generally don’t seem so likely to seek out company in the way that we look for other mummys to share the days with, it must get pretty lonely if you are looking after them a lot on your own. Thanks for linking! #bigpinklink

    1. I have seen Dad’s at groups be almost ousted by the ladies, it seems very unfair. Although I think you are right they don’t seem to actively seek company. I don’t know how they cope for days on end with no one to talk to or cry to x

  16. I agree that dads are often treated as though they’re not really capable of looking after children on their own. And that mums can be inclined to be martyrs. However I do think that you’re very lucky to have a partner who really takes on an equal role with the house, the childcare, etc. My ex was always very willing to let me do everything for the children, but he has been a lot better since we split up, because he has to take the reins at weekends. It’s very different, though, having them for a couple of days a fortnight compared to the day to day grind… #bigpinklink

    1. There are definitely Dad’s out there who would happily let their partners do everything – but I think it goes to show that they are capable if they can manage the children when they have them on their own. I guess we all struggle with the daily grind, Mums and Dads alike x

  17. So true – agree with everything you say. We have another daddy here who does everything. Every aspect of our lives is shared from housework to children. I think a lot more modern dads do everything that mums do but unfortunately their perception in society is yet to catch up! #bigpinklink

  18. Love this post – you are absolutely spot on. I think the Dad often gets forgotten about and treated like they can’t handle looking after the kids on their own. However I know I am lucky to have a supportive partner who shares the load and appreciates how much work goes in every day, as I know a lot don’t really feel that way. Fantastic post x #bigpinklink

    1. Having a supportive partner makes child rearing so much easier – and I think in modern family life a lot of Dad’s are like this. Its just a shame that the world view has yet to catch up with the reality x

  19. Thank you for this. I’m pretty much the primary parent in our household. It’s just kind of the way it worked out, and it’s a real sore spot for me when people assume otherwise. Found this while nosing around from #puddinglove

    1. That must be so annoying when you are the one who does the daily grind and yet people assume you are just ‘playing’ at Dad for the day. We need to educate society about modern Dads! x

  20. What a fab post, can totally relate to this, I hate the fuss that is made when my OH takes the girls out on his own, i hate how people say oh is daddy babysitting – no daddy isn’t babysitting he’s just well being daddy! You wouldn’t ask a mum if she was babysitting I think it’s extremely rude and patronising. I wish I could be more like him when we go out for the day he’s so relaxed where as I’ve done a half marathon around the house before we even get out of the door!!!

    1. It shouldn’t be like that should it? Of course they are not babysitting, I really feel for Dad’s, society can be rude ! I always feel like I have done some form of athletics before we leave, it might be the 50 times I go up and down the stairs cos I have such bad mum brain! x

  21. You only have to look at the way many brands still insist on featuring mums in their advertising, with narry a dad in sight, to realise how far we still have to go. As a dad, it can be quite daunting to be the only male parent at a toddler playgroup – even if dads are not actively excluded, they can find it difficult to break into the mums’ cliques. And yet there are more and more stay-at-home dads (John at DadblogUK and Dave the DADventurer to name but two), more and more dads taking paternity leave or even shared parental leave, and more and more dads like me who get as actively involved as we can in the time we have available around full-time jobs.

    I’ve lost count of the number of emails I’ve had from PRs starting ‘Dear Mum’ or the number of press releases that speak to ‘mums’ rather than ‘parents’. It’s one of the reasons I’m so pleased that BritMums Live is now renamed the more gender-neutral BML. It’s not that dads want to be singled out or positively discriminated on behalf of – God only knows women have been on the wrong end of things for centuries! – but it would be lovely if sometimes people (whether it is brands, PRs or the older generation) remembered that dads are PARENTS, just as mums are. 🙂

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I totally agree with you that advertising and PR companies focus their endeavours on Mum’s and its not fair or reflective of Dad’s in modern day society. I think it is very unfair that you guys are almost pushed aside when it comes to parenting. I love the new shared parental leave, although latest figures suggest its not having the impact that had been hoped. It would appear that employers are less than enthusiastic in many cases and I guess in some respects its harder for Dads to take parental leave as they are still often the main breadwinner.
      I think there is a long way to go to bring the stereotypical view of Dads into the 21st century – but with more bloggers like yourself and the others you have mentioned hopefully society’s view will start to shift.

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