Doyin Richards wants to know what is wrong with a society that sees dads who are merely being good parents as doing something “amazing.”
A few months ago, my wife and my two sisters in-law went to Vegas for a ladies-only trip and the boys were left behind to watch the kids. After giving it some thought, we decided to take our munchkins (all under the age of 4 at the time) to the Long Beach Aquarium to introduce them to the wonders of marine life. Then something crazy happened.
People kept stopping us to say the following:
– “You guys are some of the most amazing dads I’ve ever seen!”
– “If only all dads could be like you guys.”
– “You guys make all men look bad.”
At the time, we all took the ego-boosting compliments and moved on. However, after some time passed and I could reflect on that day with a clear mind, I had the following deep thought:
“What the hell is going on with our society?”
A bunch of dudes took their children to the Aquarium for some fun and exploration. So what? Do we really deserve credit for this? You would’ve thought we saved a pack of puppies from a burning building due to the level of props we received that day.
Using another example, my twin brother went to Toys R Us to return a defective bicycle that he bought for his daughter’s birthday in late December. When he was walking in the parking lot with a bright purple bike, he was stopped by three different women who gushed over how he’s such an “amazing dad.”
Taking your kids to the Aquarium doesn’t make any dude a great dad.
Returning a defective bike to a toy store doesn’t make any dude a great dad.
A cute dad? Maybe.
A great dad? No.
This madness has to stop.
Is this where we are as a society? Is the bar for being a “Great Dad” set a notch above “Deadbeat”? If so, that’s damn good news for deadbeats and lazy dads everywhere, because it takes minimal effort to achieve this status. Hell, a guy could take 30 minutes out of his life to walk his kid around the neighborhood and have people tell him how great he is. When he gets home, he can turn on his XBox for hours on end while ignoring his family in the process. If his wife is silly enough to give him any lip, he roll his eyes and say,“Two strangers just told me how great of a dad I am! What’s your problem? Quit nagging me!”
See what I mean?
Chris Rock said something in one of his comedy routines that makes a lot of sense (paraphrasing):
“I can’t stand it when people expect praise for stuff they’re supposed to do. For example, when people say, ‘I ain’t never been to jail!’ What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!”
Walking with our kids, playing with our kids, learning with our kids, and embracing the responsibility as the primary male role model in the lives of our kids is something that dads are supposed to do. In my mind, giving props to a man for taking his kids to the Aquarium or returning a broken bike to a store is no different than giving him props for staying out of jail.
The bar must be raised.
On a similar note, I would bet good money that if our wives took our kids to the Aquarium that day without us, nobody would’ve stopped them to say that they’re the greatest moms ever. As a matter of fact, I doubt anyone would’ve said a word to them.
Mothers rarely receive ego-boosting words, no strangers are taking pictures of them as if the sighting was as rare as seeing the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot in the same room (this happened to us), and no men are stopping them to say, “I wish all moms were like you ladies.”
Why? Because moms are supposed to do these things.
Enough already. Just because a woman gives birth to a baby doesn’t mean that she should bear the weight of every parenting expectation while men can achieve hero status by changing the occasional diaper.
The bar must be raised.
However, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t thank your spouse for being thoughtful when it comes to you and your family.
- Thank your husband for cooking dinner if you’re exhausted.
- Thank your wife for taking over the nighttime routine with the kids if you have to work late at the office.
- Thank your husband for taking the kids to the park for the afternoon so you can have a few hours to regain your sanity.
- Thank your wife for knowing the exact words to say to calm your rambunctious children when you’re about to lose your patience.
It starts with us.
I’m up for the challenge. Are you?