***I wrote the following post in April of last year, but since today is Fatherhood Friday, I thought I would post it again, for the benefit of my new crew. There are a few things that I have amended in this post, but the thrust remains the same.****
If you have been paying any attention to who my usual commenters are at my blog, you will quickly gather that my blog is read primarily by women.Many of those women are Mothers... the so-called "mommy-bloggers". It has been my privilege to blog among so many of these intelligent and fun ladies for the past two (nearly three) years.
One of the great things about blogging communities, is that from your computer, you get glimpses, sometimes in great detail, about lives other than your own... and that has to be a good thing, doesn't it? I mean, isn't that one of the best ways to learn? I think that exposure to things that are outside of your own experience is a way to grow. Well, this is just another example, writ large.
You all know that being a dad is very, VERY important to me. I want to talk about parenting today in a way that I haven't really spoken about it before.
You see, I love being a father, and I believe that as important as mothers are, fathers are equally important. Oh, I know that most or all of you believe that, too, and I am heartily glad of it.... but once we get past that lovely sentiment, we run hard against societal expectations, don't we? In this instance I am talking about the expectation of the "hapless dad"
You see, despite the rhetoric of most Americans, we still cling, desperately, to sexist gender roles.
With all of the great dads that are all over the blogosphere at places like The BlogFathers, Mitch McDad, African-American Dad, Rice Daddies, the dads over at AllTop, and my new posse at Dad Blogs, We see fathers doing the best they can to be good, participatory, Full Spectrum parents. We see fathers as Girl Scout leaders, diaper changers, cooks for their kids, etc.... we see dads engaging in the full spectrum of parenting/child-rearing. My friends, this is a beautiful thing. Never before in the history of North American society, have fathers been more involved in the lives of their children.
The problem is that our work as fathers isn't done. There are barriers. Oh, I am not talking about the barriers erected by workplace expectations, or barriers erected by travel. I'm talking about barriers erected by our wives. The mothers of our children.
Ladies, how many of you have ever caught yourself being resentful about not having had a shower on this day or that, or that your husband doesn't do enough with the kids? I am certain that it is a terribly frustrating, and real problem... having said that, I must go on to ask you, how much of that have you brought on yourself by blocking your husband's access to your.... HIS children?
Have you ever seen your husband do something with the kids that is at odds with YOUR day to day activities with them? Have you ever interceded by saying "We don't do it like that"? or worse, interrupting with a curt "here, I'LL do it"? Have you ever made comments that might make him feel that he doesn't know what he is doing when it comes to even feeding the children? Have you ever treated your man or talked to him like he was a dummy because he doesn't parent exactly the same way as you? If so, you might be a "Gatekeeper"
Gatekeepers want their husbands/partners to do more... but they want it done THEIR way. Gatekeepers want their husbands to be good dads, which in their minds means be another mom. Gatekeepers often bemoan their plight as mothers, while tut-tutting men as being unfit to parent... aside from being financially and emotionally supportive.
Sound familiar? Some of you may know people like this.
Lest you think that this behavior only happens in the home, think again. I'll wager that most of the parents who read this have either experienced or seen or even perpetrated the following: Ignoring the lone dad at the play group; the school secretary that talks to a dad like he is an idiot when he asks a question; the mothers who offer to "help" a man when he has a baby with him; the pediatrician who asks if she should write down the medication instructs "for mommy, you know?" You've seen these things, haven't you? I know you have.
For you dads that are out there, keep doing the right things... it'll pay off. Your children will be better for it. Your sons will learn how to be dads & husbands from your example, and your daughters will learn what to expect from a husband. For you moms, you keep on doing what you are doing, too... unless, of course, you are a Gatekeeper. If you are, get with the program and realize that just because your man doesn't do it your way, it isn't necessarily wrong.
Fatherhood Friday is a new weekly event from The Dad Blogs. Please have a look at the new place and visit the participants... and by all means, spread the love.