“She asked, ‘How can you do this to this poor child?’ and pleaded frantically with me to get in her car.”

This is a comment by Bob on the post “Call Me a Good Dad and I’ll Spray You with the Hose“.

Bob says:

“I got this all the time when my little ones were truly little and what I couldn’t stand also was how thin was the razor’s edge from unwelcome fawning praise to sneers and outright unsolicited intervention.

“Example: Walking my baby (completely bundled up) strapped to the front of me to the grocery store in colder weather under my coat so we can get food because that was the only way to get to the store to get food elicited ridiculous praise from the cashier.

“Five minutes later walking home, it starts to rain (I am prepared with an umbrella) and a woman drives up alongside asking, ‘How can you do this to this poor child?’ And pleading frantically with me to get in her car. As if getting in a car with a stranger is okay just because she happens to be a woman. And letting her drive me and my baby home without a car seat? Not in my world. We walked the rest of the way and we were both warm and dry the whole time.

“If I were a mom, neither situation would have been a judgement upon my parenting, but in the case of a father there is not just judgement but overly weighted judgement in either direction.” 

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Comments

  1. There’s so much classism leveled at you in this story, too. Is walking to the store, even in the rain, really so bad that it verges on abuse?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      It’s total classism.

      Fact is, my kids would rather have been strapped to me in a Bjorn or Ergo, under an umbrella, than in the car any day. Many (if not most) babies feel the same way.

  2. I think you will find that this does actually happen to Mums, too.

    When my babies were little I was told off on a hot day for not having socks on them. Told off for letting the 6 mth old use a dummy (pacifier) as his teeth would be crooked, told off letting them climb or splash in fountains as toddlers etc etc. The only thing mums don’t get is the accolades for just being a mum. That’s something reserved for Dads alone. ie: ‘You’re such a good Dad taking your child to the park!’

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I agree here, too. My youngest will NOT wear shoes unless forced and even as an infant, people would say, “He needs socks! How could you not have socks on him!” And I’d say, “maybe your baby keeps socks on, but mine doesn’t.”

      Rudeness is universal, to some degree.

  3. My favorite is the “oh, you’re babysitting?” Hell no. Mom doesn’t ‘babysit’ neither does Dad. But I agree, Dad gets props just for being there. I had a man once tell me I was “lucky” that my guy was still in the picture. No I’m not. I picked a good man and we got married and we’re staying that way. We’re not “lucky” for that series of events, we work darn hard at it.

  4. Also, that reaction is idiotic. You had an umbrella, baby was bundled. Also, I agree that in any universe a little cold is way better parenting that a car with a stranger and no car seat. People are so dumb sometimes.

  5. The reason it was so infuriating was that it came not five minutes after the cashier gushed over me for simply having my baby strapped to my chest while shopping. Both reactions were equally idiotic in my book. And there were many others. Simply feeding my baby in public elicited squeals of joy. But if he spit up, I would often be barraged with advice, as if spitting up wasn’t a thing that babies do!

    And since no one is mentioning the elephant in the room either on this thread or the original post, I will. Men never made these comments to me.

  6. @The ladies: I am a single father and was a SAHD 27 years ago. I have helped raise three children into adulthood (ages 27, 25 and 21) in one of the more challenging urban environments in the country’ Oakland California. Reading your comments is disappointing because, even though I know they are well intended, they are not as comforting and supportive as you would like to think.

    For instance, Amy you write that mums go through the same thing as Dads, when it comes to people giving advice about to care for the baby. This may be the case some times but it is wrong and inaccurate to equate the experiences in culture of a father with that of a mother because of societal biases. It has just been in the last 10/15 years that we in America have even begun to study the importance of fathers in the family and in the home. While studying early childhood education, fathers their opinions,experiences and contributions are woefully absent from studies and mothers are considered the default definition of what a good parent should be.

    In America we view fathers and mothers as we do men and women, as different. When you don’t give space for the experiences of men, who are entering a world that treats them as the other, to be critically analyzed on their own merits it only further dis empowers them.

    I endured many of the same comments, tremendous isolation and much more from friends and family which sent the message, no matter what I did or how good I was a s parent, I was just a stand in for the real parent, mom.
    This sort of thing seems to happen with alarming frequency on GMP: A man has a complaint about bias from a woman and it is almost always mildly if not outright invalidated. When men complain, telling them too man up( IT NO BIG DEAL, IT HAPPENS TO ME TOO) is not an appropriate answer. Sometimes one needs to sit down shut up listen, empathize and let his experiences live and breathe. For men who enter a woman’s world it is only natural that there will be ample bias and prejudice he will encounter. Frankly, women seem to have a difficult time recognizing and admitting to their own prejudice.
    I would also beg to differ with Amy in that, at least, In my community, mothers get all the credit for parenting, whether deserved or not. In America we hold mothers and motherhood on a pedestal.

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