I was privy to a conversation among women the other day, during which they were getting all misty-eyed after having spent time with a bloke who had just become the father of twins.
“He held one of the babies in his arms for a whole hour,” said one breathlessly. “He’s such a good dad“. Really? I found myself thinking. Is that all it takes? Is the bar really that low? Is that all blokes need to do to impress upon you our worthiness as parents? Because frankly ladies, you are doing yourselves a disservice. It’s attitudes like these that allow us to get away with blue murder.
Probably because our forefathers did so very little about the house in the way of child-rearing, modern day dads still only need to make a token effort every now and then or worse, just be seen to be making a token effort to be showered in accolades. Witness the outpouring of sympathy a friend recently received when his wife spent a rare couple of nights away from the family home. Neighbours rallied with home-cooked meals, friends and relatives bombarded him with unsolicited offers of babysitting while doubtless, far away in Canberra, an emergency meeting of the Australian Of The Year panel was being convened.
Or the gushing admiration mates and I receive whenever we venture to the shops or playground alone with the kids to give our wives a break. It’s our one, comparatively tiny contribution to the child-wrangling all week, a small window of shamelessly high-profile parenting, and we’re all but given a ticker-tape parade.
Then there are the dads who are nominated for Nobel Prizes by women because they read to their child every night or make it home for bath time. Rarely by their wives, mind you, the harried, permanently-dazed, primary carers whose herculean efforts each day go largely unheralded.
Ladies, allow me to let you in on a secret: if your fella’s a keeper, he’s already feeling guilty about how much of the burden of parenting you shoulder. Unless he’s Neanderthal, your man is acutely aware there’s a massive debt owed. And just because fathers of yore were considered sensitive and new age if they only drank four schooners down the local pub instead of twenty eight while you were busy in the labour ward doesn’t mean you should be making a song and dance about those of us who occasionally strap on a Baby Bjorn.
There’s little doubt the sharing of parenting duties between the sexes has evened out compared to 30 years ago, yet as long as the female apologists exist for male parenting efforts that are token at worst and minimal at best, blokes are still largely getting off scot-free. Which is good news if you have a Y-chromosome. At ease gentlemen. The bar is still low.
Here’s a gallery of some celebrity dads looking after the kids.
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This piece was first published in the Daily Telegraph.
Bryce Corbett is Associate Editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly.
What about you, have you noticed men getting a disproportionate amount of child-raising credit? Why?