Friday, July 14, 2006
Better Dadding: Just Show Up
Several weeks ago, I was riding the express bus home from work, and as is typical, was chatting with some of the regulars about the general sorts of chit-chat you usually exchange on the bus. Chunk is a favorite subject of conversation, likely because I usually have a picture or two to show off, and one of my fellow bus riders turned towards me and asked, wrinkling up her face, "Denver Mom isn't still going to France, is she?"
It seemed pretty clear to me that what she was really asking was, "Your wife isn't so heartless that she'd leave your innocent, sweet son with... with... with... YOU for two whole weeks, is she?
I know it's a generational thing and I shouldn't take it personally. And, I know that this particular lady is a bit weird. After all, when I bumped into her at Blockbuster last year, she accused me of getting a "naughty movie" when she saw I was trying to buy a copy of "The House of Flying Daggers." Yes, because it makes perfect sense that I would shop for porn at Blockbuster Video. Buying porn is just one of those many bonding moments a father and six month old boy can share.
Mom-101 had a post a little while back about how, yes, even a dad can be a responsible, attentive parent. It was a shocking revelation and the comments ranged from disbelief to jealousy of Mom-101 and her trained chimp of a husband. "Ho ho ho, boy, men sure are dumb!" was the tone of many of the posts.
Why is that? Why are men considered so helpless and stupid? And, why is it even acceptable to make these kinds of comments? If I put up a post that said women were unreliable and clueless, I'd be chased around the internet by angry villagers with pitchforks and torches. Yet, it's okay and even funny to point out how dumb men are, especially as parents.
Whether this attitude about men is fair or not, it exists. So, my advice this week about how to be a better dad, is just to show up. You don't have to know everything, standing proudly over your adoring children with your teeth gleaming in the sunlight, cape flapping dramatically behind you, but you do have to be involved. That's really all it takes. Show up. Be there. Don't allow this stereotype to torpedo your role as a dad. For all dads, be involved and change this stupid mindset that men are automatically idiots in the parenting department.
A bit of clarification: I just want to state that I don't believe Mom-101 was saying that men are stupid. I think she was, with tongue placed firmly in cheek, making fun of the sitcom dad stereotype and his inability to do anything without help.