Fatherhood looks so different from one family to the next, but if there is one annoying generalization most moms can agree on it’s that their partners are just the “fun ones,” or, the “babysitter dads.”
Dads are so much more than this surface-level figure in a child’s life, and we don’t honor this deeper side of fatherhood nearly enough, in my opinion. Just pay attention to the commercials next time you watch TV. Dads play baseball and go fishing, and moms do everything else, apparently.
These gender roles placed a lot of pressure on me in becoming a new mom. I worried during my pregnancy about how we would divvy up this whole parenting gig because I sure as hell was not confident to be the all-knowing default parent. While I knew that our parenting roles would never be equal, I wanted it to be balanced.
And so, the best advice handed down to me on this front went something like this: Keep those first few weeks home from the hospital sacred between the three of you. While you find your way, let him find his way. Don’t correct his way or laugh at his way. When daddy hears that he’s doing something wrong – and if he hears it consistently enough – he just won’t do it anymore. And then one day you’ll wake up and wonder why you’re the one doing everything, and it will be because of all those times you implied that your way was better.
This is genius advice that we need to continue sharing to expectant couples. Because the truth is moms are not better than dads, and dads are not better than moms.
Hopefully, when enough of us start trusting and talking about the dads in our lives this way, we’ll finally see the “babysitter dad” retire for good.
Dads are silly, protective and clueless – but so are moms. Moms are nurturing, tender and selfless – and most importantly, so are dads.