Where Parenting Culture Fails Us…

I am a dad. I am also a loving husband who adores his wife. I love being a father and I am a very actively-involved one. Although we are both working parents, I carry what many refer to as the “mental load” in our home — meaning the unending list of invisible tasks needed to keep a home running (somewhat) smoothly. And as there is such a massive lack of resources available to dads, I even attempted to create my own resource by launching a podcast called DILF in search of other dads I’d like to… you guessed it, FRIEND. To my surprise, the pod took off and recently hit #6 on Apple’s US Parenting Podcast charts. And yet, three years later, very little in parenting culture seems to have changed.

Last week I went onto Instagram and saw the following re-post on PARENTS instagram:

Now, I believe I have a healthy sense of humor, and I know this was merely created to get some laughs/likes. Unfortunately, it simultaneously perpetuates the stereotype that all dads are buffoons. It promotes an outdated trope that undermines the confidence of fathers everywhere, while hurting the core of family dynamics globally… and Parents Magazine (one of the most well-known sources on parenting) RE-POSTED it!? 

In today’s day and age, many dads are very present in the home. This is honestly a confusing time for men — many of whom are eager to shed the armor they’ve worn most their lives, but are conflicted by how guarded society has trained them to be since birth. The issues surrounding masculinity are obviously complex — it reminds me of a story in Andrew Reiner’s eye-opening Better Boys, Better Men where two middle school boys being interviewed attempt to find the courage to explore their masculine identities within this modern world, while being called “girlie” by their female classmates. This odd juxtaposition is something men have to deal with on a daily basis: “express your feelings,” but if they make someone else uncomfortable… “man up and grow a pair.” True, this is a world full of contradictions, and absolutely no one is saying that there is an excuse for not carrying your share of the weight on the homefront; however, the solution to this very pressing issue affecting families all over the world involves both dads and moms. There is no question that moms deserve all the respect and adoration in the world, but that does not mean that dads are incapable of carrying their share of responsibility… if given the room to do so. You see, it’s as much on moms (and publications like PARENTS) to empower and allow the space for dads to enter into the conversation. In the end, the more dads are included within the conversation (rather than being the butt of the joke), the more support they can provide to the family unit. And the truth is, most dads are already present and working to carry their share… so, maybe it’s simply time for the parenting world to catch up and acknowledge it.

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