Dumb-ass stuff we need to stop saying to Dads.

Recently I got chatting with a nice lady in the queue at the supermarket.

(Because when the highlight of your Friday evening is browsing a frozen food aisle, you’ll talk to everyone.)

As I loaded a giant bag of nappies onto the checkout conveyor, Nice Lady smiled at me.

“Kids?” she asked with a grin.

“Yeah, a little boy.” I replied.

“So, who’s got him now?” she asked.

“Um, he’s at home with his Dad.”

Her grin widened.

“Ohhhh,” she said, giving me the look.

Then she dropped the whammy:

“Let’s hope everything is under control when you get home!”

Chortle chortle. Wink wink.

Then and there, it dawned on me.

We need to stop talking about Dads like they’re an inept accessory to parenting.

I hear this stuff all the time, and my husband hears it too.

Like the time we were at the park and our son was dressed in a t-shirt covered in vegemite stains.

Looks like Daddy dressed you today!” came a well-meaning comment.

Newsflash: I dressed him. And I did a terrible job, which is often the norm. When his Dad dresses him, he looks like a Bonds catalogue kid.

Is Daddy on babysitting duty today?

Nope, he’s not a baby sitter.

He’s a parent.

He’s outside playing cricket in the backyard, kissing a skinned knee, smearing sunscreen onto a tiny nose and handling another epic “I don’t want sunscreen” meltdown like a boss.

He’s sitting on the toilet with a small person staring at him through a crack in the door.

He’s making blanket-forts and train stations and race tracks.

He’s wrestling and jumping and cuddling and soothing.

Later on he’ll be scraping solidified cheese off the floor, hanging tiny shirts on the washing line and Febrezing the strange smells out of the sofa cushions.

He will spot a red rash behind our son’s ears and google “possibility of death with red rash behind ears” and quietly convince himself it’s a flesh eating virus.

He will worry and think about our son – all the time.

He will get everything wrong, then right, then wrong, then right.

He will argue with his partner (me) about whose turn it was to buy the pull-ups and we will both wonder why we ever got into this game – and then something great will happen.

Joy.

Hearts will fill up again.

He’ll read the same Peter Rabbit story for the sixth time in a row (without flinching) and will wrangle four squirming, kicking limbs into clean pyjamas.

He will sit beside his bed, saying the two words he knows will help our son to drift away.

Daddy’s here.”

He will go downstairs to tidy up the toys, and he will flop on the sofa with a beer, and he will get up two minutes later when our son wakes and cries.

And he will do it again, and again, until he gives up on the beer altogether.

He will check the locks on the doors and creep into his bedroom to whisper a last goodnight, safe in the knowledge he’s probably going to get 4 hours sleep tonight.

On his way out, he will look into the cot and think to himself:

Bloody hell, he’s beautiful.

Alongside all of this, there’s me.  Doing exactly the same kind of stuff, every day.

Sure, there are plenty of deadbeat Dads in the world. Equally, there are plenty of deadbeat Mums.

But the good Dads need to be part of our language of parenting.

We only have to look at the smiling faces of mothers with children in magazines, TV sitcoms, movies, advertising and online to see where the media thinks the parenting-pendulum swings.

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Yep.
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Yep.
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And yep.

Listen to the language we use about parents to know what we’re supposed to think the score is.

Watch how much pressure we put on Mums to be the natural-born carers. The ones with the instincts. The ones who ‘know how to do it properly’.

Hell, even the bottle of stuff we wash our son with says Mums prefer.”

What about the Dads?

It’s easy to see why it’s often called ‘Daddy Day Care’.

It’s easy to see why Dads rarely get more than a mention at our ante-natal classes.

It’s easy to see why the good Dads – lion-hearted, capable, loyal, instinctive Dads – are portrayed as goofy mistake-makers.

It’s easy to see why there’s a popular Instagram hashtag called #dumbstuffdadsdo; but nothing for Mums. Because we never do dumb stuff, do we? (cough)

It’s easy to see why people fawn all over a bloke with a baby in a sling, like he’s some sort of rare messiah.

It’s easy to see why many Dads get about 5 days paternity leave (if any) when a child is born.

It’s easy to understand why we never hear the term “working father”.

And it’s easy to see why Facebook started a viral trend, asking women around the world to share “five reasons why I’m happy to be a mother.”  #silentvom

Nothing for the awesome Dads.

Nope.

Because they’re probably all scratching their balls and watching the football, right?

Wrong.

They’re scratching their balls and watching the Teletubbies.

All hail.

****

If you’d like to read more of my waffling about life, feel free to give me a ‘like’ on Facebook.

837 thoughts on “Dumb-ass stuff we need to stop saying to Dads.

  1. My children are grown now and lord knows I put in my time scratching my balls to the Teletubbies. My wife felt and feels the same way you do and was not afraid to let me and others know… but its it’s really nice to see it in writing. Keep up the good work. P.S. Only the Brits could take a 15 minute show and make it a half and hour by going “again again” bloody brilliant.

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  2. Thanks for writing and sharing this Rosie Writes. I am rather disgusted to where society sometimes, or the entertainment industry often tries to promote Dads as “buffoons”,source of comedy relief, inadequate, and unable to care, nurture, lead and raise their children. Look, I have always taken care of my children. I have never hesitated to change the diapers of all of three of my children, both female and male. I have stayed up all hours of the night and morning for feedings and illness. I have dropped everything to care for them, and have rushed them to the hospital for sport injuries which included holding them while they got stitches.. I dressed them, feed them, bathed them, and tucked them in after bedtime stories and prayers. I braided my daughters hair, and pressed her dresses. I have pressed my sons shirts and slacks. I have never missed a parenting time/visitation..recital, sporting event, etc… (unless prevented/hindered/obstructed by their mother). I pray with my children, I take them to church. I play sports and games of all sorts with them. I read for them and now read with them. I have taken communion with them. I invest quality focused time with them. I teach them right from wrong and what it means to have integrity, and loyalty… I love them unconditionally and they are my world. I am not a “dead beat dad”, a “buffoon”, or inadequate! I work very hard for a living, and serve in the community. Look we ARE DADS and WE GOT THIS! Thanks again!!!

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  3. I used some of these phrases myself until I became aware of how down putting they were. I’m from the American South and we have a sort of old fashioned family in which I was predominantly the stay-at-home parent. I fell easily into the same language of stereotypical insults. So glad I learned better so I could do better. This blog post will do that very thing for other parents. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. just got custody of my 2 girls after watching the “mom” drag them thru hell and use them as pawns to get stuff so she didn’t have to work,…after 6 evictions and almost living on the streets the state of wa. decided it would be ok for me to take care of them…ugh…I had been picking up the pieces for 5 years and putting them back together on every visit as well as taking notes and calling schools and cps…the kids are happy and calm and functioning and what I noticed is not all moms have the maternal instinct nor are they the nurturing kind souls that people think just as not all domestic violence victims are women…the perpetrators of this behavior are almost bread into it and its a way of life….the other thing I noticed is the total lack of care or concerns by employers if you are a father with kids..i got fired like 10 times because my daughter was sick at school or I couldn’t make it in by 7..its really utterly rediculouse…if you have no kids and can work 60 hours a week–great…I have better things to do…like dress dolls and laundry or write a new song for my album.theres always more for us to aspire to , and people to inspire us or revolt us…. and when my girls say to me ” dad…your the best dad in the whole world “…I melt and love them like theres no tomorrow cuz we really don’t ever know and im happy they’re healthy—they could be special needs or something else…those parents are truly amazing…..awesome article…thanks…gordy—single awesome father

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, I understand what you are saying…I spent some of my daughter’s young years working outside of the house, and their Dad working at home – so a lot of the day to day activities and household jobs were done happily by him – and he got a few crocked glances in the 90’s when this was happening.
      Also, my current husband was in the same position as you, but probably less police ans social worker intervention, but she was neglectful and otherwise too busy really to raise her daughter – and no work done so that her older children would even have any connection with their little sister – she continues to be a sister of convenience at present with all of them living far from each other.
      Anyway, he came to the area his family was living, once the mother’s death occurred, for assistance. But he has to carry many documents to show he is her father – daughter’s birth certificate, mother’s death certificate, his birth certificate. When he travelled out of country, it was a long procedure to prove he was her father and the sole parent to raise her.
      He has made every life changing choice with her in mind – I had to pass many tests before he would consider spending the rest of his life with me.
      we really need to change how we think about our father’s – thank goodness we have them!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am with you on your story. it rings true for me and my second husband and his daughter. He had to do exactly what you have described, which was so frustrating to watch him have to do so much work to be with his daughter. And, like you, I was tested many times before meeting her and spending significant time with him. I am so grateful that my family has quickly adopted them and taken them in so quickly and with so much love. So change of attitude is coming, it is just very slow

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    2. I was raised by my Dad, along with my four siblings, starting in early elementary school. He’s my hero, I’ve got three of my own and wonder where he found the energy to do all that he did, working, cooking, cleaning, baking, playing, building, etc… He did all the great things mentioned in this article and pushed through the very hard times. Never stopped loving us. Never quit. Literally saved our lives. Women definitely swooned over him. As they should. I hope this encourages you as you take care of your 2 girls.

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      1. thanks sarah I am always wanting to live a no regrets type of a life which means when I die I want to be able to say wow I did great…which involves living in the moment and being fully present for all of their growing up and needs which are simple…forts…playing…friends…love…it can be stressfull but it involves a ton of grace and staying centered in gratitude and feeling blessed and even thankful for my ex even though she continues to struggle and will not go and get any help..i can only hope that the damage will be reversed and my girls will come out of it all strong and healthy in mind -body-and spirit.

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  5. Totally true. My hubbie’s a very involved father and boy do I get raised eyebrows when i mention he made dinner, or packed kid’s lunches…

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  6. Perhaps it’ll change one day. Honestly, though. I don’t really care what other people think. I’m totally fine going about my day and not worry about what people think about my parenting skills (which rock).

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  7. Yes! My husband and I work alternate shifts so we are essentially single parents. He is alone with our daughter half the day, and I am alone with her the other half. He does everything for the kid, very well (often better than I do, honestly), but doctors look to me when they talk to us. They call me, not him, even though we gave them his number. People always make the jokes about dads bumbling things up or being useless. People tell me to have daddy babysit for a change to give me a break (he doesn’t babysit, he is her father, and we both need breaks!) Men really have to stop getting such a bad wrap. It bugs him that he gets no respect as a parent and gets dismissed by doctors, because he is very concerned and involved in her life every day. Even when I was having the baby, he was my coach, but the doctors and nurses ignored him most of the time. Frustrating.

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    1. What most everyone seems to miss is the fact that that concept is one of the things that is breaking our marriages up. In the movies “stupid dads” are the par for the course and so dads act like that. True, our duties may differ a bit (I am Dad) but God made us equally important to a child’s sense of Identity and self worth.

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  8. thank you so much. i agree with max that getting offended by these stupid comments is pointless, i also think its pointless to have so much viral thoughtlessness in the world.

    thank you for taking a stand for fairness, with this intelligent diatribe against stereotyping dads as fools. its not that “dad” is some sacred thing that no one should ever joke about, but its pretty unfair to act as if that all the ones that should get credit for their hard word and dedication… dont even exist, or even are rare and unusual exceptions. thats a narrative worth quibbling with.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like this and agree with what you said. My husband is a great dad to our kids and is a parent, not a babysitter! He parents our kids just as much as I do.
    However, you have a picture of a Baby Mum Mum to prove a point but in the US, a mum mum is just name for a snack. Something a baby or toddler eats. I don’t think the Baby Mum Mum food name has anything to do with this topic.

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  10. Great article! I’m a stay at home dad and I’ve heard everything from “are you babysitting your son today” to you are doing your “Mr. Mom” thing. It truly is abhorrent. It’s been two years now and we are in the process of doing it again. It doesn’t bother me as much but I hate the stigma that dads aren’t equal to the task. Nevertheless…:)

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  11. Thanks so much for voicing your thoughts. I don’t think anyone could state it better. I was a stay at home dad for my oldest daughter, and now my week consists of 10 work for my employer, then another 4 to 5 hours caring for my children. Weekend? What’s that?

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    1. Great comments, I work in an infant/toddler daycare center and I have the privilege of helping many fathers drop off their children in the morning, very proud Dad’s who have the same, if not more, concerns and comments that I hear from the Moms. So, what I see now is more fathers doing the primary care, with the joyful partnership of the mothers.

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