Most fathers would agree with me that we are marginalized by media, culture, and society at large in our roles as parents. For those of us who take pride in being a good dad, this really sucks. The common thought out there is that only women have the inherent traits to be a good parent and that, no matter what, a man could never do a better job than a woman at taking care of kids and the house. Not only do people not expect men to be able to step up and be great parents, they actively expect fathers to fail (as most movies showing a dad having to do women’s work, always humorously fuck it up). To put it mildly, men are seen and treated like children, so how can they be able to successfully raise children? Right?
While this all bothers me, I can’t really have a chip on my shoulder about it. I know first hand how horrible guys can be at parenting. I was raised by a single mom who divorced my dad right around the time I was 1 year old. I know for a fact that my dad was awarded visitation rights and was told he would have to pay child support. Even though my mom left him, taking my brother and I with her, she didn’t just disappear without a trace. He knew where we were and how to find us, but never once did we get a visit or even a lousy birthday card. Oh, and we didn’t get any child support either. He and many other deadbeat dads like him caused the generation where soccer moms and single mothers proved that men weren’t really necessary when it came to raising a family.
Men in this modern era became like the appendix in the body. No one is sure quite was it does and, when you remove it, things seem to work just fine without it. But are things really fine? I can tell you that, even though my mom did a great job raising me, I don’t feel like I had everything I needed growing up. I could have used a guy around the house to fight with my mom when she insisted I join the choir year after year or just let me know that the things I was experiencing as a young man were normal. I still have trouble to this day making friends with men, because I simply just don’t get most guys.
However, when it comes to modern families these days, I have met and I continue to see a lot of dads who do an amazing job parenting. I read other dad blogs and love what I see written. I’m witness to and a part of a new generation of men who don’t give a shit what tradition has laid out for us, and who strive to become something better and greater than what’s come before. I believe that men are an important part of the family unit and not just as the cliche “bread winner” role. Despite being seen as no better than cavemen, we have achieved the right to be proud of ourselves as parents. The only thing is, we are not going to get the recognition any time soon and we should just get used to it.
I know that’s not the kind of thing we fathers want to hear. I think that too many times guys are told to just ‘take it like a man’, but in this case it’s probably the easiest route. I know it simply isn’t fair. We shouldn’t have to do all these amazing things and still be treated like our dipshit fathers. Even now, while I’m the stay at home dad and I do the majority of the housework, my wife will be home on the weekends and do a couple loads of laundry and wash a few dishes and she’ll say, “I’ve got to do everything around here!” like she’s talking to herself, though she knows I can hear her. So it’s not just society in general, but my own life partner who can’t give me a little bit of credit for what I do because she can’t shake the common attitude that women are the ones who do everything in a family. Believe me, we’ve had fights about it, I’ve walked her through the things I do and let her know how much I don’t appreciate that kind of attitude, but it doesn’t stick. There’s simply too much history of men being the buffoons for anyone to be able to change their minds about this.
I’ve seen rants in articles and blog posts by other dads similar to this one that I’m writing right now, so I know I’m not just projecting my own experience about this on other families. Dads are being punished right now for the sins of their fathers. While we could band together and shout out for justice, it really wouldn’t do much in the long run, and I have too much laundry to do anyway. When it comes right down to it, I finally realized I’m doing a good job as a dad not to get praise, even though I would like it. I’m not kicking ass as a father so I can prove to myself that I’m not like my own dad, even though I’m relieved to know I’m not. I’m being a good dad simply because my boys deserve it and that’s enough for me. Of course, they both better appreciate it someday or I’m going to be pissed!