When a dad writes a Facebook post devoting himself to his daughter, he gets 600K followers. I get it, it’s super sweet. And we don’t typically see Public Displays of Dadness (PDD), so we get all sappy when we do.
But does that mean we don’t expect it? Why are we treating these guys like SuperDad and not just a good Dad?
Talk about a biased workplace.
Remember the term “Deadbeat Dad”? This was a term in the 80s given to men who fathered kids and then intentionally never paid a dime. True slime balls.
So if SuperDad is changing diapers and talks openly about being devoted to his child and a Deadbeat Dad runs away, what is the in-between? Non-abandonment Dad?
I think it’s time we stop swooning over celebrity dads – and even our co-worker who picks up his kids on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This isn’t SuperDad-ing. It’s parenting.
What if we lived in a world in which a Deadbeat Dad wasn’t someone who jumped ship, but someone who wasn’t picking up 50% of the work? Approximately two-thirds of families have both parents working. And according to a 2014 Working Moms Tipping Point Survey from Care.com, 80% of working moms feel stressed about getting everything done. This isn’t because everyone loves their jobs and wants to work, it’s because life is expensive – kids are expensive – and the family needs both paychecks. But these days we can’t just have Dad changing diapers and sharing pictures of his kids around the office to be considered super. He needs to be helping relieve the care responsibilities so his partner can be successful outside of the house as well.
Or at least trying to be 50%.
A lot falls on us as women, as moms. We often carry the baby, have to heal from delivery, nurse and have more paid and-or socially acceptable time off from work to bond with the baby. So obviously, we form a deeper bond. We start to know what different cries mean. We know their schedule like we know the nose on our face. And so Dad comes home from work and the baby cries, and we Moms know what to do. He’s starting from Square 1 and never really gets to Square 2 because both of us default to the expert. (This is one reason we need more paid paternity leave in this country.)
So then, when Dad does know something – when he doesn’t just sit there and get told what to do – we praise him like he invented our favorite ice cream. And he sits there sopping up all the praise.
While it sounds like I’m complaining here, I think we’ve come a long way. Remember the “Deadbeat Dads” I talked about? That was the trending Dad story in the 80s. Now the trend is hands-on dad-ing, media sites like Fatherly have launched with millions in investments, numerous PDD hashtags have gained momentum (#DadLife) and Lego just launched a Stay-at-home Dad figurine. Perhaps we thank the celeb dads for making fatherhood so hot.
But we still need to push these so-called SuperDads to higher standards.
Let’s redefine what it means to be a super dad. This means we can’t swoon when we hear of a Dad who takes care of his kids — physically, emotionally and financially. It should be expected. Reporters should no longer ask celebrity dads if they change diapers (would you ever ask a mom this?) (Instead they need to ask these dad and CEO/politician dads how they manage their career and family) and we moms need to expect more co-parenting support at home – while men should expect more family support at work.
Things are changing. And it’s super.