In Defense of Dads

On a busy day home with the kids, I saw a tweet float past my twitter feeds: “Dad-Mom Role Reversal- What happens when Dad stays home?” I thought it sounded good for Jason, who stays at home with the kids more often than I do, and forwarded it along to him without reading it. What I found out was that this article had deeply upset him. Instead of being a supportive article for working mothers about having dads stay home with the kids, it was a list of ways that dads don’t measure up to moms. Following this article, I ran across a slew of other articles that were different subjects but all had same same context: Dads just can’t cut it.

The problem with these articles is that they measure dads against moms as if dads are just a substitute for when mom isn’t around. This hardly seems fair. We wouldn’t look down on a dad for not breastfeeding his child or a mom for not properly teaching her son to fish. So why would we look down on a dad for not being a mom?? Dads do not cease to be a man just because they’re home with the kids. And why treat men as though their value is diminished when they’re home supporting and nurturing the most important people in our lives: our children.

Years ago, Jason worked from home part time while the kids were in school. When the kids were off of school, he was there with them. Was the house absolutely spotless? Well, no. Did the boys always leave the house matching? Ha. Uh, no. (Seems my boys lack the “matching” gene.)

But the kitchen was always picked up and dinner was always made. The kids made it to soccer and baseball practice on time. Jason was involved with their sports and coached them on how to do better. Homework was always complete and the boys felt confident in their schooling. Their grades soared, they had less problems at school, and in the evenings, since a lot of this work was done ahead of time, I had time to sit and teach them German words and phrases.

Life was good. There was a sense of relaxation knowing that while not everything was done up to my Type A Mom standards, the big stuff, the stuff that mattered most to our family, was taken care of. And most importantly, the kids were happy.

Bringing a baby into the house puts a new spin on the home life. The learning curve and the stakes seems higher. But the nice part about being a new mom is that people understand when things aren’t under control. No one expects a clean house and dinner on the table when you’ve been home all day with an infant. How is that any different than when dad begins his journey of staying home with the kids?

Children are a whole new language (for both parents) and it takes an entire immersion into their world to fully understand how to keep their lives and the house under control. Maybe if we granted dads the compassion and understanding that we extend to new moms, we’d find that dads are just as capable of running the show. With a dash of fart jokes on the side.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda Boitson
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:46:45

    Just another key reason why we should NEVER compare situations, or people. The fact is Dads are Dads, Moms are Mom. Singular. They play two different roles, but they have to work together to make things complete, not work as one to make “up” for both!

    I think you should take some time to read Matt Logelin’s blog if you have the chance Jason. Matt lost his wife 27 hours after his daughter was born. He became a single dad quickly, and no one faults him for his rights and wrongs in parenthood, because he was forced into the role of providing for both parents without any knowledge of how to be a parent. I don’t know if this will hurt/help, but I think his journey really details the roles we play in life.
    http://www.mattlogelin.com/

    Reply

    • jasondeeds
      Mar 01, 2011 @ 22:54:19

      Brenda, I plan on reading Matt blog. It’s now on my To Do list, near the top. I remembered you talking about him at one of the writing meet ups. I have some stories I need to add to this blog about “Becoming” a dad. With the boys, there was no learning curve. From Fart Jokes to Phone calls from the Principal.

      Reply

  2. shawnsmucker
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:53:21

    Great post Kirsten. Hadn’t thought of it that way before.

    Reply

  3. melissamilazzo
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 12:31:00

    Good post! Dad is not equal to, less than or greater than Mom. That kind of parenting math does NOT work.

    You also do a good job of pointing out that every household has different needs and will need to have a unique mom/dad/ work ratio to provide the best care for the kids. My mom worked nights as a nurse, which meant I spend most school nights with my dad. I think he did a great job raising me and my sister πŸ™‚

    Reply

  4. Steve Lilly
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 21:53:13

    Great post. We must do what is best for our families and the situations we are in.
    I work nights and my wife works days, I get the daytime responsibilities and she gets the nights. It works just fine for us and that is all we worry about.

    Reply

  5. Andrea Doucet
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 16:55:18

    Kirsten and Jason –
    I really appreciated this wonderful piece! I also wanted to let you know that I agree completely and wrote an article in the Huff Post recently that addresses this issue of appreciating dads, recognizing complementary differences, and the need to take off the ‘maternal lens’ when looking at fathers.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-doucet/women-breadwinners_b_828285.html
    (Note: please ignore the title … it was the editor’s choice, not mine!)
    Look forward to following you here! And would love it if you would check out the bread & roses project.
    Andrea

    Reply

    • jasondeeds
      Mar 07, 2011 @ 11:12:31

      Andrea,

      Thanks for reading Kirsten’s post. I just read through your link, and I have to say I loved it.

      When we first started taking care of the boys I didn’t realize they reactions I would get being a work from home dad. Taking the boys to soccer practice for the first time really showed me those lines existed between stay at home moms and dads. I was more then a little caught off guard when I noticed the looks from the other moms that seemed to shout: “Who is that creepy guy standing over there? Is he supposed to be here?” It wasn’t until my boys came running up to me to give me a hug that the moms backed off. It took time but when the season was half way over I was just another one of the girls…well so to speak.

      In our case what made it even tougher of a transition is that our boys are adopted. Going from Uncle Fart Joke King to Responsible Dad was not as easy as flicking a switch.

      Reply

  6. The Momma
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 17:26:44

    Great post! My husband is a WAHD, and it amazes me how often people just assume he’s not “doing it right.” First of all, he’s actually better at the cleaning and cooking than I am, kids or no. Second of all, I don’t WANT him to me. I want him to be dad. I want to be mom. I think it allows our kid to get the best of BOTH of us.

    Reply

    • jasondeeds
      Mar 07, 2011 @ 11:16:57

      Thank you for the comment. First off just let me say I LOVE the comic blog!

      Everyone always looks at me weird when I tell them I like to cook/ LOVE to bake. I keep the house pretty clean, unless Dr. Who is running a marathon then just forget it. I’m a dad that does house work and takes care of my kids.

      No that’s not a skirt I’m wearing. It’s a Kilt!

      Reply

  7. Trackback: The Greatest Job in the World! « Domestic Deeds

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