Parenting

Dads Want to Be Involved, So Support Them and Stop Treating Them Like Babysitters

The internet is full of the woes of mothers. Our struggles, large and small, are displayed via social media and throughout the blogosphere on a minute-by-minute basis. We are the subjects of movies, talk shows, YouTube videos and entire websites. Entire “wars” are fought in our name. Yet, what parents often fail to realize or acknowledge is that fathers confront the same stresses mothers do.

Where are the Daddy Wars? The Daddy blogs? If anyone came across the website “scarydaddy.com” they’d probably chalk it off as a porn site before considering that it might just be a place for dads to vent. The sad truth is that, far too often, we fail to acknowledge the daily stresses our husbands experience as fathers because they are so far removed from our own.

Last weekend my husband had a long list of housework to conquer after an excruciating week at work. Realizing his need to get things done, I focused on keeping our ever more mobile toddler out of his way. Our son did his best to fight this plan though, and demanded we make several visits outside to see what daddy was up to. Finally, my husband popped.

“I should be spending time with him,” he exclaimed, “not messing around with the yard, and fixing the car, and taking care of a house!”

There he was, the Master of the House, wanting to set aside all that manly work to play with his son. I ached for his frustration.

According to recent statistics:

Ninety percent of millennial and Generation X dads say that parenting is their greatest joy, and 86 percent say they work hard at becoming a more effective parent. But dads are also clear that they need more support. Sixty percent want more information on how to be better parents, and 70 percent say if they knew more positive parenting strategies, they would use them.

Many dads face economic burdens when trying to participate in their children’s lives. Paid family leave benefits for fathers are rare. Still fewer fathers can afford to take unpaid family leave, especially since their wife is already losing income after giving birth.

Fathers who aren’t as pressured by finances are pushed by time. Most fathers still act as the primary wage earners of the family. Feeling the pressure of providing for underage dependents often results in an even greater push to demonstrate loyalty to and value in the workplace. Whether its overtime on the job or time spent responding to emails at home, fathers often feel the tug of dual loyalty to both work and home in ways mothers, especially those who work part-time or not at all, do not.

These fathers don’t have time to go online and research parenting techniques. So, they turn to tired wives to ask questions. Far too often these exhausted and embittered women resort to husband-shaming, humiliating their spouses online, as a way to vent their frustrations. Hence, dads are often portrayed in the wider culture as “babysitters” instead of fathers who actively participate in their children’s lives.

Now more than ever, fathers want to play an active role in the lives of their children. It is up to us, the mothers and wives, to help make this happen. The first time I put my husband in charge he kept asking me questions as I readied to get out the door. “You’re the dad,” I responded very simply, “you love him. You’ll figure it out.”