friendship

Parenting isn't just hard for mums. It's hard for dads too.

When are people going to treat Dads like the capable human beings they are?

I know I’m going to get crucified for this, but I’m going to say it, I feel sorry for the new Dads out there.

Sure, a lot of new Mums get enormous enjoyment bemoaning their spouse’s incompetence at parents’ group and, hey, we all do it, we’re only human!

But it wasn’t until I went through a pregnancy and now motherhood that I realised how excluded men can be from the whole “family” process. And you know what? It’s not fair. Some of them really do want to be involved.

Take my spouse. He’s a capable man, he does half the housework, cooks every second night and looks after his infant daughter as often as someone without boobs can. Should we applaud him? Of course not. He does what is only fair, and these men do not need to be lavished in praise for doing what is realistically their “fair share” – we should be admonishing those who don’t, not praising those who do! We have a pretty balanced relationship. But, when it came to having children that balance began to tip and not through any fault of our own.

"He searched in vain for some kind of resource for Dads. In the end, after finding any Dad-related information lacking and/or patronising, he just read my books."( Image via iStock)

While pregnant I remember trawling websites for cures for morning sickness, advice on breech babies and general advice for becoming a new parent. My husband tried to do the same. He searched in vain for some kind of resource for Dads. In the end, after finding any Dad-related information lacking and/or patronising, he just read my books. I’m glad someone did!

Even in the hospital, every piece of advice was directed at me. My husband once commented on how he might not have existed.

Any advice that was given to him seemed to be directed at an incompetent oaf, rather than a grown, educated adult. I’ll never forget when the midwife in our antenatal class said, “you know, Dads, you could help Mum by changing the occasional nappy”. My husband was outraged. The occasional nappy?

And why is it Mum’s job to be the carer who needs Dad as an assistant, rather than a teammate – it’s no wonder the gender divide is still so strong when stereotypes are still propagated like this. When are people going to treat Dads like the capable human beings they are, and not inept helpers to the madonnas that are their wives?!

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"I’ll never forget when the midwife in our antenatal class said, “you know, Dads, you could help Mum by changing the occasional nappy”. My husband was outraged." (Image via iStock)

I will admit that as the parent who is taking time out to care for the child, it isn’t possible to have completely balanced parenting. After all I’m home all day, so of course I change more nappies, mop up more vomit, settle baby more frequently.

But I have been thinking about how little assistance there is out there for Dads, how the assumption is always there that Mum’s the main caregiver. Even now, I’m part of a Facebook group called Midnight Mums, for mothers to support each other. But why mothers? Why can’t it be for parents? Their Daylight Dads equivalent is by all accounts uninspiring. Is there any reason why we must assume it’s only Mums who are looking for cures for nappy rash, help with child care and bemoaning the mother-in-law?

All I’m proposing is inclusive practices. After all, Dads are parents too, and some of them want to be more than the absent parent who comes home late from work in time for a kiss on the head before bed. Some of them need to use parents’ rooms in shopping centres, some of them stay at home with their babies, some of them want to go to “Mums and bubs” sessions at the cinema. Hey, some of them are even sole parents, or in a same-sex relationship!

How on earth can we expect to be treated equally as mothers, as women, if we don’t extend the same courtesy to the men in our lives?

Does your partner contribute equally when it comes to parenting responsibilities?

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