Photo Credit: Lionsgate
Poor, put-upon, overworked moms! We navigate the hypercompetitive landscape of perfect parenting with aplomb while our doofus husbands put the baby's diaper on backwards and forget to feed the kids lunch. We swoop in to fix it all, while thinking to ourselves, "What ineptitude!" and, "Who is this moron I married?"
Right? Well, not in my world. And probably not in yours, either. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, "Mr. Mom is dead." Or, at the very least, "the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn't know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade." (Over at Huffington Post, Lisa Belkin even penned an obituary for this often-discussed-but-rarely-seen dad and his ilk in response.)
Sadly, it seems, lots of people (and companies) still just don't get it. The latest offender? None other than the children's toy brand Playskool, which has caused an uproar with the recent tweet: "Does Dad ever have a day where he's in charge?"
Ummm, yes. He does. Lots of dads do. And -- news flash! -- lots of dads have more than one day where they're in charge! Shocking, right? My own husband took on an equal parenting role pretty much from the first days our our first child's life. Not for a minute did I think that he couldn't handle being left alone with our baby, a bottle of pumped breast milk and a stack of diapers while I went to run an errand or just take a nap. (And as Belkin and countless other moms and dads point out, that's called parenting, not babysitting.) Do I think I'm lucky? Of course. Do I think my hubby's parenting skills make him unique? No.
Fast-foward six years, and he's balancing an acting career with stay-at-home dad duties, caring for our two boys while I work for this very website. He doesn't do everything the way I would do it (and I still find myself tempted to tell him exactly how small to cut the pieces of string cheese he's feeding our toddler), but that's okay, because he's doing a damn good job on his own.
In fact, the WSJ article continues, "At-home dads aren't trying to be perfect moms, says a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Instead, they take pride in letting their children take more risks on the playground, compared with their spouses. They tend to jettison daily routines in favor of spontaneous adventures with the kids. And many use technology or DIY skills to squeeze household budgets, or find shortcuts through projects and chores, says the study."
Well, check...check...and, okay, forget that last one. My husband roughhouses with our boys in a way that they love and I don't particularly enjoy. On the swings, he pushes them to heights that make them squeal and me squirm. For our toddler, naps are often taken in the Ergo while on the way to a museum or playground. That structured "1:00 p.m. in the crib" nap schedule? It doesn't usually happen in our house -- and that's okay.
So to Playskool, Huggies, Hollywood and any naysayers out there -- and on behalf of the 3.4 percent of SAH parents who are dads in this country -- can we please put this tired (and frankly offensive) stereotype to rest? It stinks -- even more than the dirty diaper my husband can very competently change.