Yes, it's been a long time since I have posted here, but for Father's Day, I just really need to adress the Father's Day imbalance.
Online, around Mother's Day, and frankly, any day, I see a ton of posts, memes and news articles critical of mothers. They had their baby on their wedding dress. They are breastfeeding in public. They put their kid in the car seat wrong. They took a sexy selfie with their kid in the background. I see postings criticizing moms for "keeping their kids away from the dads" for "introducing kids to their boyfriends" for doing this or that or having their kids around whatever. It's almost 100% about the moms.
On the other hand, I see all posts with pictures of dads with their kids as "look at what a great dad". The guy is just holding a kid or doing her hair or feeding a kid and he's a great dad. As a dad, if you show up to a park with your kid one time, you are a "great" dad.
This is terrible. We are doing a HUGE disservice to not only moms, but to the truly great dads. Because frankly, there really are some truly great dads out there. But they are getting lumped into the same category with some pretty shitty dads.
I know great dads. I live with one and he's a step-dad. I work with a couple who I wish I was half the parent they are. These great dads take time off work to give comfort to sick kids. They deal with the day-to-day of healthy eating, snot, poop, tears, and blood. They worry about their kids having what they need, making friends, being sad. They teach their kids morals, how to ride a bike, how to shoot the paper off the straw. They take their kids on vacations to remember forever and spend time just cuddling them on the couch. They listen to their kids' feelings, thoughts, and dreams. They teach them skills. They help with homework. They play silly games. They let the kids win sometimes and don't other times. They love their kids for who those kids are.
Not all dads are like this. And those dads that are great deserve special recognition.
Some dads do the minimum. They spend time with their kids because they have to, because they don't want the kids to spend more time with the mom, because they don't have the money to have someone else take care of them, or sometimes because they do actually want to spend time with them. They give them some macaroni and cheese and sit them down in front of the TV. Their kids are impediments to the things they want to do. These dads live their lives when they don't have their kids around. They may or may not use a car seat right. They don't particularly worry about their kids' emotional development, teaching their kids' morals or life lessons. They don't wonder about the "quality" of the time they spend with their kids. It's more about the fact that they spend time with them at all. And these dads absolutely know they are great dads because when they take their kids to the park after having avoided seeing them for months, you tell them what a great dad they are.
There are dads who do less than the minimum. They don't put money or time toward their kids. They complain for everyone to hear about how the mom is "keeping" the kids from them. When in reality, the mom would give anything for a little break. She's broke, exhausted, and would love an afternoon to just take a break. She has tried to get him to spend time with his kids. She has begged, pleaded, and offered to pay for his gas. But he's "busy" or doesn't have any place to take them. And she is painfully frustrated and hurt when you post on line or tell her friends that she is an awful mom for keeping the kids from this great dad.
There truly are dads who are wonderful and are kept from their children. I know one of them. I know he is a wonderful dad because I know his current wife and kids. He is a wonderful father to them. I don't know how he was with his kids from his first marriage, but I am his friend and I support him. He still tries to spend time with his children from his first marriage. But he is not the "norm". And he is not all dads.
When we put all dads in the same category, we devalue fatherhood. Fatherhood is incredibly important to our children. Dads who disappear, refuse to help, take the kids to the park occasionally, or act like the kids get in the way of their life are not "great" dads. And when we call them great, we teach our children that being a dad is not much of a job and not much of something to be respected. This is wrong. Being a dad is one of the greatest, hardest, amazing jobs there is. We should teach our children that it is hard and fun and exactly what it means. Children should be in awe of the great dads. We all should.
And we should stop teaching children that moms are just expected to get everything right. It's just their job. We are currently teaching children and each other that moms are supposed to give their kids healthy food, take care of the owies, always use the car seat right, always do their hair, always spend their money the right way, never take the wrong photo, never put a baby anywhere questionable, never make a mistake. And for all that care, diligence, and pressure, we won't thank them or think they are great. We will just expect it and wait for them to mess up.
Fathers, on the other hand, we expect nothing. When they do happen to feed the child well, or take them to the park, we will call them "great".
Frankly, I know a lot of great parents. Truly great parents. They are doing it right. Both moms and dads. They make mistakes. It happens. They feel horrible about the mistakes. But I know they are great parents, so I am going to support them when they make a mistake, And I am going to let them know that they are great parents. I know they are great parents because I know some that aren't great. And there is a difference and the difference is not gender.