What being a good dad should mean.
This is going to be a little ranty. I’ll try and reign it in.
I am regularly told I am a good dad. This is of course true. I am a good dad. However, the reasons I am being told that I am a good dad worries me. The three reasons that I’m told I’m a good dad that worry me are; I am able to hold my baby without it crying, actually even with her crying I’m told that me holding her at all is amazing; I am able to feed her; I take her out of the house to do things on my own. If these are signs of a good dad I would hate to see what an average or bad dad would be.
Let’s have a closer look at these and why they worry me starting with the first one. Maybe I am being some dreamy idealist but being able to hold your own baby without it crying is a basic ability. That’s just being a parent. If you can’t do that as a dad you had better have a really good reason like not having any arms. That’s a good reason. “The baby has always cried whenever I’ve held it.” is not a good reason. Obviously you’re not actually being comforting if that’s the case since that is generally the purpose of holding your baby. What’s even more worrying is the follow up statement. So many times I’ve been told that men don’t hold babies. This can’t be right. This has to be a monumental error in generalising. If not then I really feel sorry for the mums and the babies in those families and seriously wonder what is going on with society.
Onto the second thing I am often complimented on. Being able to feed the baby is also a basic part of parenting. You really don’t want your baby to become so reliant on the mother when it comes to keeping him or her alive. If something happens to mum you want to be able to easily take up the slack and help out with the baby. That’s what being a good dad is about. Being able to feed the baby is just part of that. The more you do it the better you get at feeding time and baby gets used to the idea that you are also a feeder. As an added bonus it gives mum a chance to have a break. The bottom line though is that It’s really just a matter of doing something that you have to do. I honestly can not imagine being unable to feed my baby. This would cause my wife so much extra unnecessary trouble and I would feel like a useless tit.
Onto the third worrying point. This one actually really annoys me. I honestly think this is more a problem with society than dads. I’ll be out with my baby at the park or in the public baths or at a restaurant and someone will come up to me and ask “Oh is the mum just in the toilet.” The reason this annoys me should be fairly obvious. Are dads looking after their children on their own so rare that any dad with their child is automatically assumed to be just babysitting for a few minutes until the mum comes back? I doubt it. I’ve been out and about in Japan many times seeing dads looking after their kids on their own. I strongly suspect although I can’t verify it that this is purely a problem of perspective. People going around assuming that dads have nothing to do with child rearing. This does nothing but propagate the opinion and leads some of the more easily socialised males to become useless dads.
It’s great that we are encouraging dads. Giving a compliment when they are getting right into the thick of it. It’s really about standards though. Is the bar for dads so low that it’s amazing that the dad does anything at all? This isn’t the message we should be sending. If you see parents that you think are doing a good job say so but don’t propagate this image of dads as being some useless appendage to the family unit. Our society still view mums as the ones that do everything. What truly amazes me is that people’s eyes just glaze over when I mention that I’m that one that spends the most time with our baby. Since this never seems to get any kind of reaction I assume people just think I’m bragging or they just can’t comprehend it and ignore it. I’m happy to be called a good dad but say it for the right reasons and don’t forget to say that the mum is doing a good job too. The bar for them is set so high that the smallest things can trigger condemnation.