Being a dad is tough. I sometimes try to find fathering advice but that’s hard too! It doesn’t seem like (to me) that men have been doing very much child rearing over time (just a lot of fucking), so there isn’t a lot of data compiled on what it’s like being a father.
At least nothing useful that I find when I research. Like the stuff women have. I can’t believe the disparity in gender-specific parenting advice. I’ve even heard women complain that they have a whole barrage of literature, advice from family members, and current scientific research thrown at them when they become a mom. New mothers sometimes find themselves overwhelmed with all that information.
For me. A Dad. I’m pretty under-whelmed with what I have to choose from. There really isn’t a dearth of information out there for men who just want to know what they could expect as a new dad. I’ve probably read all the dad books that are out there. There’s really not that many. You know who wrote an okay dad book? Bill Cosby.
No. It’s true. I mean, he didn’t really write it, and it was mostly just a readout of some of his most famous comedy routines. His jokes and stories about being a dad. But it wasn’t bad, like some other books I read. Now, I only bring up Bill Cosby’s book because there was one chapter about a routine of his which I think outlines the concept of GateKeeping, as it pertains to parenting, perfectly.
It’s the one where his wife wakes him up in the morning, commanding him to go down and cook breakfast for the kids because she’s sick. It takes a while to get Bill out of bed, but when he finally gets downstairs, his first interaction is with his youngest child. Bill asks his daughter what she wants for breakfast, and she requests a piece of the chocolate cake on the counter behind him. Weighing how nutritious he thinks cake is, with how much he doesn’t feel like cooking breakfast, Bill decides to give in and fully embrace his dadness. This is the kind of stuff dads do. I can’t remember if it was a Saturday or not, but I’d do the same thing. Now that I’m a dad.
The rest of Bill’s kids come down to breakfast and, after complaining the little one got a slice of cake, he starts dishing it out to all of them. The book is an okay read of his routine, but you really have to watch Bill do it on stage. He’ll get you dancing as he describes the way he and the children enjoyed their morning. They even sang, “Dad is great! He gives us chocolate cake.” Unfortunately, the fun experience is soon brought to a sudden end, as Bill’s wife comes down the stairs to find the kids enjoying their time with dad.
“You gave them chocolate cake for breakfast?!” Bill’s wife scolds. She shames everyone for eating bad food and, even though she’s sick, she gets to work making breakfast. Such a champ!
Bill Cosby ends his routine by grinning sheepishly (but sagely) at the audience when he recounts how he gave in to his wife’s order to go back to bed. That’s where he wanted to be in the first place! She’d been the one to ask him to take care of the kids. If she thought she could do better, Bill was fine with leaving her to it.
It’s still funny now. Even though we know what Bill had been doing with all his free time. But it is a great case study on how women act as GateKeepers in the home. Moms always complain that men are not engaged or present. I’m starting to wonder if we should lay all the blame on men.
Gatekeeping is a concept that has only been applied to a few divisions of our society so far. Like the media, for instance. Editors of news agencies have the power to control the information our society receives by choosing which articles get published or not. Editors can always claim that they’re only giving readers what they want, but you can’t deny the power they hold. They influence (not only what we know, but) how we think, and what opinions we have as a people.
As far as gatekeeping in the home, the concept can be applied to an idea that mothers actually keep men from participating in housework and child rearing duties, while complaining that their husbands are not helpful in raising a family. When you exclude the paychecks fathers bring home, of course.
I first learned about gatekeeping while I was doing research on parenting. Specifically, the importance of the role of a father in the family unit. I was a stay-at-home dad at the time, and I was looking to evolve as a dad. On top of that, I was raised by a single mother. While my mom had been a great role model, I was finding that the style of parenting, which I learned from her, just wasn’t working for me as a man.
To add further salt on the whole thing, I felt like all the moms I knew (NOT the ones who were stay-at-homes, but the working mothers) didn’t take me seriously as a parent. My ex wife was one of them. Not to throw shade, but I still believe that one of the biggest reasons my ex wife left me was because I wasn’t’ making any money. Guys without jobs aren’t sexy. And I was doing the stay-at-home job better than she ever did! I think that pissed her off, but she’s a horrible cook and hates to clean. So she really wasn’t much competition.
Maybe I was naive when I was surprised that I couldn’t locate any research done about dads very easily. Don’t get me wrong: I found stuff. But not as much as the research done on the importance of moms in the home. And the studies that were published about fathers were mostly dull and lacking in any real information that could be practical or helpful to me.
I thought it was the researcher’s fault at first, but I started seeing in some studies that the researchers decided to throw the moms under the bus instead. Some anthropologists accused women of being the real culprits as to why the scientists could never interact with the fathers of the families they were studying. In order to ask questions and receive answers that would lead to some kind of analysis about the contribution of dads in the household, researchers needed to talk to real men. But no. The moms told the researchers: “They’re busy with work. I don’t want to bother him when he gets home. He barely does anything when he gets home anyway.”
Now I’m sure these moms were always telling the college student or old hippie (whoever was interviewing them for the study) that their husbands would hate to have to sit through a questionnaire. It’s subtle, but it doesn’t make the GateKeeping any less real. If you analyze it, you’ll see that moms are keeping men boys by not allowing them their own space in the house. Moms don’t even think it’s important to include fathers in a research study on family and parenting. It’s really that simple. Women also push men out of the child rearing business because they think dads would just feed kids chocolate cake for breakfast or something.
Moms think if a dad doesn’t do something the way they do, then it’s bad. Just think about it. You ever know a mom who says she always does the dishes in the house because her husband doesn’t load the dishwasher in the ‘correct’ way. Those kinds of moms always fall upon their swords of martyrdom, while slaving to provide their kids the cleanest house at the same time. Telling their husbands to just take out the trash. You should feel sorry for mothers like that.
Sure, these moms have so much to complain about. Men suck. But, up until now, deadbeat dads and irresponsible fathers have been dressed up as the villains in our stories about dysfunctional or broken families. I’m not trying to make mom’s the villain either. I’m just trying to point out that most moms know when they are making it harder on their husbands to be a part of the family.
However, fathers (like Bill) don’t have to give in so easily when they give up on their parenting duties though. It’s not all the moms fault. There is enough blame to go around. Guys are pussies when it comes to raising kids and changing diapers. I’m not. But some are. However, as our society ages, I’m seeing more fathers become the competent parent in the family unit, while the less than stellar homemakers (like my wife) still get to pretend that they’re better than their husbands at housework. In my court case with my wife over the custody of our kids, I was often reminded that moms usually win such cases. Kids need their moms. Everyone know that.
“No matter how good a dad you are, you’ll never be as good as the worst mom.” The GateKeepers in my world seem to be saying to me. With their actions and opinions. Sometimes with these actual words! I don’t care about it anymore.
This is just my first piece that I plan on writing about GateKeeping. It’s not just in our homes and the media that GateKeeping occurs. GateKeeping is rampant! It infects every aspect of our society. It allows people to exclude other people from the things that they love. It’s pretty stupid.
I won my right to father my kids. After my divorce, I was the one to finally be deemed the primary parent. Unlike most broken homes, my boys go to their moms for the summer, because I’m the best one suited to taking care of them for the majority of the year. Most dads don’t get my kind of triumph. But I fought for it.
When I faced my own GateKeeper, I didn’t walk away from the locked door. I knew I wasn’t letting go of my kids. I wouldn’t give up my role as a father. I know that on my worst day that I’m better than most moms, these days. Maybe ever. I’m the motherfucking KeyMaster! Just to be clear. I’m here to tell you that you can either listen to the GateKeepers in your life, or you can decide to finally walk through the door. Red pill. Blue pill. Take one. Whatever you choose, just stop being a pussy.
“You will perish in flame! Soon as I find the Gatekeeper.”