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.

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Cowardly Custard Creams: Unacceptable

Most of you will know that I am new to the blogging world and thus far I have been very lucky to receive nothing but pleasant and encouraging comments. In fact I am so naive that I hadn’t even heard of trolling. Of course I knew there were some lonely nasty people in the world who like nothing more than to belittle or denigrate other people’s feelings. I didn’t expect to find them taking the time to comment on other peoples blog posts. One thing I have learnt in the last few weeks is that it takes enormous courage to write about yourself and your family.  To share opinions and circumstances that might not be to everyone’s’ taste. I never feel concerned sharing a funny post, but those where I lay my heart open leave me at risk of being hurt by these awful people.

Large custard cream

I was first alerted to ‘trolling’ by a fellow Mummy who congratulated me on my review of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep. She asked if I had received any negative comments. I was surprised until I read her perfectly innocuous review and the follow-up comments. One lady was belligerent, she just kept coming back, throwing comment after comment at this poor blogger. Telling her she was endangering her child and that she was basically a terrible mother! WTF I thought. How can this awful woman be so vehement over something that in all honesty has nothing to do with her? Would she be this rude to this Mum’s face if she met her? I doubt it very much. But the internet and social media has provided a platform for this type of abuse. Whilst I love social media and blogging, I can’t stand the fact that people can hide behind their computer and spit bile at people with no recourse for their actions. When did it become acceptable to speak to people with such disrespect and anger?

I then found myself climbing on my moral pedestal again a few days later. A lovely blogger linked up to #PuddingLove with a post describing how someone she had considered a friend begun to abuse her over the internet. This lovely mum had merely commented her opinion of immunisations and that sparked a huge backlash from the non-vaccinator corner. Calling her an awful mum, saying she had caused her sons autism and generally horrible remarks. One even stated she should ‘get off the planet’. I could feel myself start to rage for this Mum. How dare anyone say such terrible things. As mothers we carry round enough guilt as it is without being cyber-judged by other people. Are people so passionate about the things that they believe in that they have forgotten how to treat other people? What happened to a moderate society and free speech? Everyone is living in fear of terrorists and fundamentalists, yet I can see everyday people so wrapped up in their own beliefs that they can’t see another’s point of view. They just plain forget how to be kind to each other. The point of free speech is that everyone has the right to talk and be heard without being squashed and silenced by others.

My last case in point was when a fellow blogger explained that she was upset that one of her followers was complaining about how many times she shared her blog links on twitter. OK not a big deal, quick apology and an explanation should suffice yes? No, this other twitter user had to make a big deal out of it. Making this blogger feel like they were grabby and attention seeking when in all honesty they were just doing what we all do and that is advertising their latest post. In most twitter feeds a tweet only has a short life span because everyone has loads of followers. Don’t we all get annoyed about things? But is it society these days that we just have to say we are annoyed? Can’t we just turn a blind eye?  Learn to accept the things that cannot be changed or in all honesty don’t matter? Why have we become a society where we feel its acceptable to be rude and unappreciative of another persons hard work. I can’t imagine my parents or grandparents behaving like this. Not just because they didn’t have the technology but because they knew that it is fundamentally wrong to be mean to someone just for the sake of being mean.

We have to teach our children about living in a world that is over run with social media and communication apps. A world where everything can be shared in seconds and that once it is out there it is there forever. Just because you can’t see that persons face or you don’t know them in the flesh doesn’t give you the right to be unkind or unfair. If you don’t like what someones written, you don’t have to be compelled to comment or join in the debate in a malicious way. I am not saying don’t have an opinion, but going back to that early teaching from your own mother. ‘If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all’. Criticism can be helpful, lively debate is fun, but meanness for the sake of it is unnecessary and just makes you a coward. If you wouldn’t say it to someones face then don’t write it down. Just because it’s in text form it doesn’t make it ok.

 

 

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

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