by JAMES WILKINSON
Now that I have finally been able to talk to a few stay at home dads I have found an interesting phenomenon that is bound to get all the ladies riled up once again.
A stay at home dad is much more honest when it comes to talking about child rearing. We don’t sugar coat the trials of parenting like the majority of women do. We know that it sometimes sucks big time and we also know that we don’t know what we are doing.
A lot of you ladies out there would never say that out loud. Is that because society makes us believe that a woman must adore every minute of parenting and furthermore that a woman should naturally know all there is to know about child rearing?
If you admit that you don’t know does that make you any less of a mother? I certainly don’t think so, but it doesn’t matter what I think.
Just because a woman can physically bear a child does not automatically mean that she knows how to raise one. You only have to look at the statistics on child neglect to prove that hypothesis.
Anyone can learn how to look after a child and men can quite often be more open and objective to these lessons without any guilt (there’s that word again) purely because we know that we are not expected to know.
In addition us men are not afraid to say things like, “This parenting gig really sucks” or “my kid is a pain in the arse” or even “how the hell are you supposed to do that?” The majority of women I have encountered will never admit to these kinds of thoughts let alone voice them.
For the amount of defensive comments regarding child rearing I have come across I would have to say that deep down inside most women think that they are supposed to know what to do in any given situation and feel guilty when they don’t.
This is magnified by the blanket parental disclaimer of ‘every child is individual so you must do what is best for you and your child’.
Frankly I find that kind of advice defensive and unhelpful. Why not just say what you think might work? If someone gives you advice on child rearing are they telling you that you are a bad parent or are they just trying to help you?
I know that babies do not come with an instruction manual but surely if you talk to enough parents who already have a few well-adjusted kids then you can get a pretty good idea of the techniques that work and the ones that don’t.
For the record, I am certainly not blaming women for this perceived lack of truth, more so I am questioning societal expectations, stereotypes and competitive behaviours that make all parents (especially women) feel insecure and guilty about their parenting knowledge.
Let’s face it – none of us first timers (mums and dads) really know what we are doing. Why do we pretend that we do? If we could all be a little more co-operative and a little less competitive then maybe all of our kids would benefit from the knowledge of the village.
So, if you really want to know the brutal truth about the full time raising of kids then I suggest you talk to a Stay at home dad. He doesn’t have to prove himself in that way by pretending that everything is under control.
He knows that he has no idea…
James Wilkinson is a stay home dad, the husband of a corporate wife, a writer and a musician. You can find his blog here.
Do you think that men are more honest parents?