Sunday, June 16, 2013

to all the dads out there

As the title says, this is to all the dads out there, but especially to my love who is a "professional" dad who serves full-time as a SAH parent. (And lately it's been even more full-time than usual what with all my asthma woes. Poor dear.) 
One thing that drives us just a bit nuts in our house is how much society seems to expect the very minimum from guys when it comes to parenting. Arguably, when it comes to any topic that is a girl's 'domain' is often lumped into this category of easy comic relief by simply showing a guy doing it and bumbling at it. The movie Mr. Mom first popularized this idea but just about every third commercial has some dude scratching his head and trying to figure out how to put his little girl's hair in pigtails or some other such shenanigans.
While everyone may not openly make fun of guys doing what girls typically do the more-common response and attitude is to quite simply forget that certain career choices are no longer exclusively female. I'm sure male nurses are still having to deal with people asking if they are the doctor, or an orderly at least, and it probably gets old. Even though the concept of fathers being the SAH parents is one that more and more families are embracing, it does not seem to have infiltrated our thinking enough for us to watch our language or presentation. For example, most churches still offer 'Mother's Day Out' programs instead of 'Parent's Day Out.' And typically said flier for such an event is in bright pink just to clear up any confusion of which gender is being offered such service. 
Even for fathers who aren't full-time dealing with the kids it has seemed to me that more are becoming more involved in the raising of their children and often they and their spouse work and together they jointly tag-team handling different events and shuffling the kids around to where they need to be. I know one such family that jointly parent and the father seems equally, if not even more so, capable than the mother at not only parenting his children but even nurturing them. This I think is a huge area where the church fails, as we even had people tell us that they thought it was better for the mother to be home with the children than the father because the mother is more "nurturing." I glared at them. And thought to myself, clearly, you do not know me nor my husband.
Thank the good Lord I met this man for he is everything I am not. When the children throw-up in the middle of the night he is the one rushing in and getting them cleaned up. Yours truly has a horrendous gag reflex and wouldn't be able to if she wanted to. He patiently holds them, helps them and handles just about everything every single day. I would argue that yes he is special because the amount of patience and courage it takes to be a SAH anyway is not something that every single one of us has in our natural make-up but I would vehemently argue against any sort of idea that it is something primarily reserved for females. Short-changing our men in our belief about them does nothing other than lie about them, and certainly doesn't make it true. Men tried to tell women for decades that they couldn't do a whole host of things and thank God, for the most part, that's all stopped. But if it was wrong for them to do it to us, why would it be right for us to do it to them? 
I don't think there is really anything that is specifically meant for one gender or the other to do or not do, but instead we as a society, and societies before us, list out what they think men should do and not do and what women should do and not do. Further, I think drafting some sort of notion of how "God intended" things to be is a wee bit dangerous. Last time I checked, I haven't the faintest clue what God intended for things that I certainly don't understand so why don't we just stick with: this is my opinion on such and such and here is why I think such and such and you feel free to take it or leave it. 
At any rate. Even if I don't succeed in convincing you that your man is quite capable of handling the homestead all on his lonesome, maybe you could look around in your life and notice a dad and see an area where he isn't fumbling and point that out to him and others over the next few weeks. I remember a few years ago I was paired up with a dad for Sunday School one month and I remember being blown away, and convicted, over how much time and preparation he had put into the lessons. At the time I had been in the bad habit of reading them the Saturday night before and this guy had planned things out, brought materials for home and had a general enthusiasm for the whole affair that I had seen in no one. 
With my own husband I often refer to him as the Pied Piper for when we go to the park or something he will soon have the entire flock of kids trailing after him as he makes up some fantastic game for them to play. 
So give it a shot this week. See a dad in action and notice if you are expecting him to be failing at something a mom wouldn't or if you don't have those thoughts but it doesn't occur to you to speak up against them when others voice them maybe try speaking up and see if it doesn't start to change opinions. Because Father's Day isn't just about getting dad a tie and then returning to business as usual. 
I think a lot of men who spend most of their days working regret having to spend so much time away from their kids but it's not like many of us get to live the life of a millionaire so somebody has to work outside the home. (This is from my experience, admittedly, as the working spouse I tend to bear guilt for not "being there" more often especially when it comes to missing something like a play at school or a field trip.) I can also speak truth about how hard it is to come home from a solid, full, work-day to a full work-day at home. I have a feeling that no matter what the family make-up is: one SAH, two working parents, one half-day working, and any other such combination it is all difficult to navigate and certainly to do well. From what I've seen of the circle of fathers that I know the dads of today are nurturing, passionate and engaged in their children and their spouses lives. This, is truly something to celebrate. Congrats and keep it up guys. You do well and the world is a better place for your fathering. (Especially my love who is hands down the best dad ever.)

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on Father's and your sweet hubby. My husband is one of those men who has always helped and thank goodness because I couldn't have done it alone.
    Loved it all!


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