Dear ScaryMommy, Marginalizing Dads is a Scary Mistake

Since becoming a father, I, like many people, have spoken up about dads playing more of an involved role in the upbringing of their children — as well as how this increased involvement is still not only being downplayed, but even ridiculed by so many. And being the kind of person who loves to whip out my soapbox from time to time, I never have a problem when it comes to defending fellow dads.
This year has been unofficially deemed the year of the dad. We’ve seen some pretty big strides taken to help break down the stereotypes of the idiot dad, but it still feels like we have a long way to go. For every hip and cool commercial, like #HowtoDad from Cheerios and the call to celebrate dads with Real Dad Moments by Dove Body Care, we still encounter examples of dads being marginalized on a daily basis. Some men even face particularly harsh criticism; such was the case with baseball player Daniel Murphy, who took off the three days of paternity leave granted to each player by the MLB to attend the birth of his son. Because that paternity leave conflicted with opening day, Murphy was subjected to major criticism by many in the media. Even long-time family traditions like apple picking are not safe from those who would like to drum up a laugh at dad’s expense. Don’t believe me, just look at the picture below:
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The picture above was taken just this past September at a farm in Massachusetts where they offer apple picking, but only if children, and dads, are under strict supervision. The man who took this picture, Aaron Gouveia from the Daddy Files, wrote a stellar and pointed response detailing why stunts like this (that companies will claim were all done in the name of jokes and a good old-fashioned ribbing) are ultimately dangerous to our sons and daughters, who grow up with the idea of dad being less valuable than mom.
Look, I get that there are many out there who will say that people need to lighten up or not take things so seriously, and I’m all for a good joke. But if we continue to push these kinds of messages — specifically, the message that dad is less than mom — and just write them off as jokes, then we as a society are doing a major disservice to our young sons. Because one day those little boys will grow up to be men, even fathers, who think that it’s OK to put less time into raising their children because society said so. Thus, the cycle of diminished male involvement will continue to grow, and for what? A cheap laugh?
I wish I could say that this stereotyping of men and fathers was isolated to ignorant companies and media looking to drum up attention (because as we all know, even bad press can be good press), but it’s not. It’s unfortunately happening in the home as well. There are still plenty of women who think taking pot-shots at their husbands’ competency, or lack thereof, is acceptable.
I recently read a post by author/blogger Toni Hammer that, in my opinion, continues to reinforce many of the ugly stereotypes dads are still facing, hiding behind the claim of it all being done in good fun or satire. To be honest, I’m uncomfortable even linking to it, but I think it’s important for people to see that much of the struggle many men/fathers are facing begins right at home, and is being perpetuated by the very people who are supposed to be their biggest supporters: their partners.
In the post, the author tries to relate a birth story from the point of view of a husband. Not her husband, I might add — just some random dude.
While still speaking as herself, Hammer equates women telling their birth stories to veterans comparing war stories and battle scars, saying, “We’ve all been in the trenches and wanna know what happened when a fellow solider was there, too.”
As an actual veteran, I was offended by that. She even went on to pretend the man in her story told his friends the birth process was “like going to war. It was awesome.” This is objectionable on so many levels. I have not given birth myself, so would never presume to know the difficulty and pain that can be involved – and I don’t think people should make assumptions the other way around, either. I would feel the same way about an announcer at a sporting event saying players are “warriors” or are “on the field of battle”; these comments are ill advised and, frankly, ignorant. There are some things in this world that you do not use as a comparison to anything else, and being a veteran with “battle scars” is right up there. You know what else is on that list? Giving birth!
The entire post was just one men-are-morons yuk yuk joke after another. Listing every single one would literally take up my entire post, but here are a few, just so you get my point:
1 – Husband says he was too busy to pay attention to his wife going through active labor at home because he was watching an abs workout infomercial.
2- Husband stubs his toe on the way out to the hospital and contemplates asking the doctor to check out his foot after caring for his wife because “all doctors are the same, right?”
3 – Husband falls back asleep after wife tells him baby is close to arriving.
4 – Husband talks about the size of his wife’s lady parts, calling them “huge,” and then refers to his wife as his “warrior princess” and his son as his “future linebacker.”
Each poorly-told joke felt like a kick to the face, pushing dads/men rung after rung back down the ladder of progress we have been working hard to climb. As a whole the article came off as closed-minded, marginalizing, and most of all overtly sexist towards men.
Of all the examples listed above, my concerns are best summed up in example 4. Because you know, all men talk about their wives’ downtown situation to their friends, call their wives by demeaning pet names, and envision their sons as a future linebackers. Hey, you’re not a real man unless you like football.
I would suggest that the next time Hammer wants to write a piece relating how the opposite sex would react or retell something as personal as a birth story, she should perhaps, I don’t know, talk to a few men to figure out how they remember their children being born. Had she done that, I’m confident she would have found more descriptive terms like “breathtaking,” “greatest moment of my life,” “pure joy,” or “no words could explain how awesome it was” — and less war, blood, vampire references, and all things Bro.
cute3
I realize in the world of blogging and writing that being provocative, and even inflammatory at times, gets more views and clicks than actually being earnest and heartfelt. Many have even come to Hammer’s defense, saying men need to lighten up because it was simply satire. But this article was anything but satire; it was simply mean, and in my opinion, this is where Hammer and the site that hosted her article failed as a whole — because the topic of birth, and furthermore the role fathers play in the process, deserves better than to be treated as a punchline in an awful joke.

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184 Replies to “Dear ScaryMommy, Marginalizing Dads is a Scary Mistake”

  1. Mike, thank you for a provoking post. As a writer who blogs about being a mom I had to really look at what you were saying and ask myself if I have been guilty of the same thing. Maybe not as broadly as the author does here, but even in subtle ways. As the mother of two boys, the wife of a wonderful father, and the daughter of a man who did a lot of the hands on parenting, I need to be much more mindful of the image I am giving in my writing and of the writing I promote. Thanks for a great wake up call!!

  2. Well-said. If we want fathers to play an equal role in the world of parenting, from beginning to end, we have to value their experiences and contributions. Nice work tackling a very difficulty subject, Mike. One awesome Dad 🙂

  3. Well-done, Mike!! There’s no doubt you are raising the bar for fatherhood in your own personal life and keeping it raised in your writing endeavors by urging writers and advertisers to do the same. I have to admit I never thought about it until I heard you read at BlogU. My husband was always the dad that stepped up, so even though I’d hear these types of jokes, I guess they didn’t bother me because I would think smugly to myself: Not MY man! But perpetuating these ideas of lazy, dumb, slovenly dads does us no good as a society. Thanks for opening my eyes, and I’m guessing many others as well!

  4. Honestly, this just made me take a good hard look at how I treat my husband on a daily basis. He’s been the butt of my jokes for the past 5 years, when it comes to our 2 children. Then I wonder why he doesn’t ever step up to the plate without me asking him to do so. Thank you for writing such an awesome post. I’ll certainly be thinking twice from here on out!

  5. Good for you and THANK YOU….I’m tired of the media and others laughing at ‘dads and husbands are stupid’ commercials and articles etc etc… it’s unfair and inaccurate…where are all these ‘man children’ and why are women marrying them? I think if all these women have husbands like this it says more about the woman who married them than it does the man.

    1. Agreed!!! And thank you for reading. The killer part is that the author says it just about some dude….not her husband, because then she would have much more to answer for, but just blanket insult men, that’s ok! Sad

  6. What a wonderful response. I think you really nailed it when you explained how we are setting up figure generations of disengaged fathers. (Oh and the bit about clearly not having done any research and asked any fathers, as a former researcher, this resonated with me! Oh and, wait..all of it is brilliant).
    My girls also have an incredible father and though I give them that message often, I’ll definitely be more aware of the cheap jokes I fear I may be guilty of at times. Thank you for writing this.

  7. Great post! I read the Scary Mommy piece and agree that it was offensive. My husband often says that the births of our babies were harder on him than they were on me. I can’t say I agree with that, but I do understand that the stress and the pressure he was under was very real. This is particularly true when a birth doesn’t go smoothly, which was the case for us both times. Men are expected to “participate” in the birthing process, but the problem is that there isn’t a defined role for them, besides being there to provide support for the mother. I would imagine that that would make a person feel somewhat helpless and frustrated. And it can be very frightening to see your wife in so much pain and/or to worry if the baby is going to be OK. One of our births ended up being an emergency C-section, and it makes me wonder, when else is a spouse expected to be in the OR during surgery on a loved one?! Of course, my husband couldn’t really ease the physical pain of my labors, but I am so thankful he was there to comfort, advocate for me, and to make some tough decisions when I really wasn’t able to.

  8. All this is true, however, sadly too many men view fatherhood as optional and are worthless and should not be allowed to procreate. Men like you, and my husband, while not the exception, can serve as a reminder that there are lots of good men and dads out there. Thanks for this article.

    1. Thank you for reading. Fair point, and that’s why we should nip these kinds of dad-bashing jokes because it only serves to push the good dads away, and create new generation of disengaged dads

    2. Sorry, that sort of statement without factual support is silly. It is like saying too many mother decide to drink and smoke while pregnant and cause damage to their children.
      The ability to give birth doesn’t mean you are a good parent.

  9. Great post. I have never been prouder of my wife than when she brought our three children into the world. The most beautiful moments of my life. And I’m proud to say I was at her side each time amazed and impressed and humbled.

  10. I absolutely love this, I am not married yet (engaged), nor do I have kids but I read this knowing one day, my future husband will be the father to our children, and how I should treat him as a partner still. My father, wasn’t very active in my life after the age of 5 so I really don’t know how fathers are suppose to be, but I know that I want my future husband to be the best father possible, and to not have to worry about gender stererotypes that the men now are going through. I am very glad I found your site.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! We share a similar story. My father was never around when I grew up. I very nervous to become a father, and when my son arrived, I knew it was meant to be. I have a wonderful supportive wife, and it sounds like your future husband does too. Thanks again

  11. Mike I wanted to thank you for your post. I try to consistently tell my husband he is very appreciated and that he is a good father. Stereotypes can be harmful in ways we do not always foresee. I will try to keep these ideas in mind in the future.

  12. I think making jokes about the opposite sex is fine. We shouldn’t say “You can make jokes about this, not that.” That subverts the whole role of humor in the first place. I write satire, and I would never apologize for a joke. I would only apologize that the joke wasn’t very good. In this case, the jokes just aren’t that great. Any time you’re playing on stereotypes for humor, those stereotypes by their very nature are going to make the jokes tired and not very funny. The bit about the sprained wrist made me smile because it had a good build-up but otherwise it was a lot of “men are self-absorbed, uninvested idiots.” Tiresome but I’m not offended by it. And I don’t think the author was intentionally hurtful. I just read a couple of her other pieces (try this: http://www.scarymommy.com/i-never-wanted-children/) and I think she means well, and she writes a decent post.
    The best comic dad these days is Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. He’s the stereotypical idiot dad in many ways, but he’s an idiot because he tries so-o-o-o hard. He wants to be the perfect dad but he’s still a big kid and a bit clueless. He would want to see the baby doctor about his sprain but he would be aware enough to know that he’s shirking his duties in doing so, see? So there’s stereotype in there, but it’s humanized.
    Bottom line: satire is tough. So is being a dad. So is being a man, for that matter.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking piece.

    1. I agree for the most part….as I said, I can totally take a joke. But I found nothing funny about this particular piece of hers *because* of the point you make about pushing the view that men are so self absorbed that even the birth of their child can’t penetrate. It’s interesting you bring up Phil Dunphy, because had the post been about a guy who is fumbling all over the place and can’t get out of his own way on the day their child is being born, I would have laughed my ass off, because that’s exactly what happened the day my son was born. I swear, I was more nervous than my wife was, lol.
      Thank you so much for reading, and for the conversation. Cheers!
      I know satire is hard, I try and write satire all the time, and it’s tough. That why I’m saying her post was not satire in the least, it was hurtful jokes. She saw an opportunity to pick up the “dads are morons” ball and ran in the wrong direction with it.

      1. I’m curious to know how you feel about the response I sometimes see to complaints like yours (and I have made them too, trust me), namely that men/dads can take it because, well, they’re men and therefore still in a position of power and privilege no matter how harsh or hurtful the jokes. I.e. jokes about women is a hate crime; jokes about men is about subverting hierarchy.

      2. To me, wrong is wrong. I am firm support of trying to not gender-identify things. Whether it’s kids clothing, toys, activities, feelings, and insults. I don’t use phrases like “be a man” with my son, or anyone for that matter. I shouldn’t have to take jokes or insults about me or my roll in my child’s life simply because I’m supposed to “suck it up and be a man.” I should be able to say, “That hurts my feelings” and have my response be valid. I hope that answers your question.

  13. Absolutely! I was actually offended by the article and I’m not even a man, bro 🙂 Seriously, my husband would NEVER, and I mean EVER, speak like that when it comes to describing the birth of his children. You’re not rocks. You’re human beings. Thanks for standing up for all the dads out there who deserve a better rap than she is giving ya’ll.

  14. Bravo! I’m so tired of reading and watching all of the dad bashing going on. My husband is a very hands on dad and he’s even spent time as the stay at home parent. If this blogger has interviewed MY husband about our birth story, she would have heard of unrelenting love, joy, and happy tears. He was with me every step of the way and has been with me every step of the way in the parenting process. Thank you for writing this very thought provoking piece.

  15. Great piece – although I haven’t read the SM piece to compare, you are right that men get a fair amount of bashing. Having said that, my own husband did watch 3 movies while I was in labour, although he was there at the end being completely awestruck. He did then go to the pub to re-enact parts, with added drama, for the men at the bar – I was told how humorous my birth story was by a couple of them when I next went in! So – while I am certainly totally in love with his skills as a parent and my partner, a little bit of ribbing is due on occasion!

  16. I thought my own response to that page of crap might be my debut guest post at Welcome to the Bundle, but all my ideas started with, “Listen, ****,” and got rightfully vetoed. Now, I am all for taking potshots at stereotypes for a yuk (cue knowing spousal eyeroll), but for God’s sake if you’re gonna go there you gotta be FUNNY. That post wasn’t even mildly amusing, it was just DUMB, or as the kids say these days, “weak sauce.” I mean just lame. Admittedly, I am also guilty myself of occasionally taking advantage of the low-bar-for-dads stereotype because it provides great cover for half-assing things when I want (see: awesome spontaneous afternoon at the spray park to let mom rest from e. coli, in which I completely didn’t consider bringing a towel or a change of clothes; whatever, I’m Fun Dad! All Fun and No Forethought Equals Partytime). And frankly, there probably IS a funny-ish post to be written about The Birth Story Told by Dads, because no matter how supportive we are and how many birthing classes we attend we can’t truly know what she’s going through. But that woman’s dusty old gag was just NOT such a post.

  17. Good post and you tackle some important points. I’ve not read the original ScaryMommy blog post and don’t intend to as it is likely to annoy me too! I hate the stereotypical view of a bloke when it comes to parenthood and it is great that more and more men are blogging and standing proud. I’ve just written a post myself which fits in pretty well with this – it is a Q&A I did with the missus about our experiences (both differing and similar) of labour and birth if you fancy a read http://thedadventurer.com/birth/star-mr-mrs-birth-qa

  18. Interesting post. Just as you criticize the Scary Mommy post for overgeneralizing, I think you overgeneralize a bit about the helpfulness of fathers, both in the birthing process and raising children. I wish I could say that your post made me think twice about my husband’s role in raising our two children. Unfortunately, for those of us mothers whose husbands don’t step up and take an active part in our children’s lives or helping with housework, etc., the stereotypical “lazy husband” is not simply a punchline – it’s a reality that leaves us mothers exhausted and unappreciated. I don’t consider myself anything close to a “veteran” and agree that title should be reserved for only those who have rightfully earned it. I am just a mom working my butt off all day, every day, at a full-time professional job, and at home with a baby and three-year old, to do the best I can, while my husband seems to think he gets the evenings off because he also works. So, while I get the gist of your post and agree in theory, it leaves me with the impression that fathers should be praised for every dish they wash and every diaper they change, because, hey, those fathers could be doing absolutely nothing to help with the kids! While I give credit to fathers where it’s due, I also don’t have the energy or inclination to thank my husband for doing a small fraction of the work I do that he takes for granted. I understand that, in an ideal world, both partners would be helping and showing appreciation equally. But in the real world, sometimes snarky jokes at a lazy father’s expense are all we mothers have to keep us sane and get us through another day. It’s just too bad the Scary Mommy post wasn’t funny or clever enough to even do that.

    1. Kate, thank you reading, as well as for your feedback. First, I would not say I agree with many of your points, simply because I was not saying “all” dad’s are Rockstar partners, nor was I generalizing that point. What I was doing was answering a post that even you recognized was not clever enough to be funny, but instead low brow humor.
      The main point I was making is that if we continue telling men, both adults and young men that they are, and always will be moron d-bags compared to moms, then that cycle will continue for generations to come.
      The point I did agree with you on, we dad’s who do pull our weight don’t deserve kudos or anything like that for changing diapers or feeding etc. Because we already want to do it. In fact we want the kudos even less than the insults, because the kudos inhariently mean we are less than mom.
      Anyway, I appreciate the discussion. Thank you so much for reading

      1. Well said. I don’t want kudos. Don’t pat me on the back for doing what I’m already supposed to be doing. It should be the norm. And at the same time, don’t insult me with assumptions that I continually disprove on a daily basis. I watch you chuckle all the while knowing that what you accuse me of is false.

  19. I can’t help but feel you have misjudged the author of that post. Perhaps you need context from her other posts, or maybe you just have to learn to cast aside things that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Dads do get a bad rep because good and loving fathers are the minority in America. The author’s “yuk-yuk jokes” (as you have coined them) are definitely catering towards the primary readers of ScaryMommy.com. Making a post like this that is meant to “rebuke” the author seems like nothing more than an attempt to make you feel better, rather than fighting this cultural injustice you claim to be battling against. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for culture respecting true fathers, but I just don’t get a sense of that being the life of this article.
    Oh, and a friendly head’s up. It looks like ScaryMommy.com is misspelled near the end of your article with an extra “r.”

    1. This article does a good job of fighting this cultural injustice with awareness, the first step. For men who are waking up and evolving, a big thing we find that keeps us “checked out” is our response to shame. We are heavily affected by the opinions of women we choose to love. A checked out man is a man who is not facing the pain of feeling incompetent. And it’s sad, but many men choose to stay sleep rather than wake up, get uncomfortable, and change. But trust me. Continuing the shaming will keep them in front of the TV (where it’s comfortable), instead of being present and engaged with you. Courage is required from both parties. We can continue to pass blame and enjoy our insults, which is really and response to our own pain. Or we can work towards solving our problems. He really does want to be good to you and yours. He just doesn’t have models to follow that he trusts or feels he can live up to.

  20. This was a well written response to the Scary Mommy piece. You’re right that 2014 is the unofficial year of the dad. The term ‘dad bashing’ has been coming up a lot in posts that I read and I have heard my husband complain not too infrequently about how he is treated while in public with our children and not me and I have to say it truly bothers me to think that my husband experiences sexism like this. As a woman it is weird to think about defending my husband and my dad friends from sexism. But here we are. Nice piece.

  21. I couldn’t agree more. That post was infuriating and I find that Scary Mommy more and more often publishes just about anything that will bring her clicks, the dumber and more incendiary, the better. Yes that post was offensive (and not true) and yes sexism works both ways. I am the mom and I have to clench my teeth whenever I hear this kind of stereotypes being spread over men, because they are simply unfair. Good on you Papa for speaking up! You have one big supporter here.

  22. I had to laugh at the number 2 point from the Scary Mommy post you’re referencing. When my wife was in labour with our first one I slipped on the stair case at home and I stubbed my toe. It went blue/black later on that day and a nurse asked me if I wanted to get it looked at at the hospital. I stared at her like she was a crazy person before I remembered I was in pain and then politely said “No thanks, we’re not here for me today”.
    Thanks for posting this, I think it was a measured response and I think it’s up to dads to keep telling their stories not for plaudits and glory, but because men have traditionally not talked about it. That’s what I think we’re trying to change.

  23. I read the post and love your response. The part of hers that stuck with me was all the talk of blood. I should mention I am not overly fond of the sight of blood. My wife had a cesarean section and I was by her head behind the curtain… I would stand up and give a play by play. I push through my displeases with blood because I was so enthralled that what was coming out was to by my son (twin boys and girls the second go around) that it didn’t bother me. I didn’t se the blood, I saw life coming into the world and it was the most amazing sight. I was so proud of my wife for both of her deliveries and what I could only imagine what she was going through. When the doctor had to put what seemed to be all of his weight on my wife to get leverage, I was amazed by the human body and the amount of physical torture it can endure. The whole process was a beautiful choreographed dance that was so precise to the movements. What I remember the most was cutting the cord…it was such a surprisingly tough task to accomplish. But I don’t recall any excessive amounts of blood just a beautiful moment frozen in time forever inside my mind.

  24. Scary Mommy is not about quality writing – it’s about clicks -the more you get the more money you make. While it was an honor to be on that site it’s become just another bitch fest for mom bloggers.
    I poke fun at my husband on my blog but have had to be conscious of that fine line between funny and mean. His job allowed that he was home a lot during our daughters growing up years and knows how hard it is. He also never ever complained and embraced the care job if I wanted to go on a girls weekend or whatever. Loved this post-glad I found ya!

  25. My husband is equally hands on and does the same if not more than me in our home. He cooks, cleans, changes diapers, WASHES our cloth diapers, and does it all in stride. I can’t stand when people tell me how “lucky” I am. He is their father, or course he participates in their life. And he rocks it!:)

  26. So, the rational part of my brain definitely agrees that the ScaryMommy post perpetuates a bunch of tropes that we don’t need to be perpetuating. But the exhausted and frustrated part of my brain cackled a little bit, remembering that I had to ask my husband not once, not twice, but THREE times to stop playing computer games and help me stand while I was laboring with our second child. I know that’s our own relationship crap, but when you’re stuck in that shitty situation it feels good to lash out and play the other side.

    1. Thank you for reading, and for your story. I understand not all men, or wome, are the best or most supportive. However, unlike the SM author I would never generalize and say “all mom’s are like this”, especially not for a cheap laugh and some clicks on my page

      1. I have a WordPress blog at dotcamom.wordpress.com. If you don’t mind, I’m quoting you.
        Anyway my final opinion is that I prefer to have men believe they can be involved fathers in the approach of attachment parenting.
        This could benefit people as a community when all of us believe that men can be a soldier but would prefer to be an involved dad to their babies and kids. So men won’t just think that they can do war, but not fatherhood as a caregiver and caring parent?
        I also think that men can do this if women, as a gender, don’t push them aside.
        Anyway, I see many involved dads. And their attachment parenting could be a threat to some women? Some women don’t trust men? Or some women rely on their experiences, that were bad (like dysfunctional “casual sex” dating relationships), which then makes them sexist to men?
        I’m not sure what to offer as explanation for other women who bash men when they’re fathers who try.
        I enjoy my own husband being an involved dad to our kids. Our baby son is also learning (by watching). So when he’s older, he could understand that boys turn into men, and whenever men become fathers, they can do the approach of attachment parenting to their kids.

  27. AMEN! I left Scary Mommy because it seems that unless you sympathize with mothers who a) can’t stand their kids, b) like to drink their problems away, and c) marginalize their husbands (sex, competency, etc), then they will brand you as “not getting it/not able to take a joke”…. I don’t think those things are funny, and motherhood, as well as fatherhood, should be celebrated. With so much negativity in the world, people like the SM author need to stop being so cynical about good things.
    Excellent article, and I wholeheartedly agree that if we as a society keep giving examples to boys and men where we expect them to somehow fail or not live up to an expectation the same way we think a woman/mother would, then they won’t feel the need to try or to participate to the same degree.

    1. Agreed, and thank you for reading. Like I said, I love a good joke or even the occasional ribbing too, hell, half my humor is how my toddler is a d-bag now and again, but it’s never mean spirited or hurtful.

  28. Mike,
    Thank you for writing such a great article! When my husband was home with our son, we got so much “Oooo that’s brave…. leaving him with Daddy all day” It used to make us both so mad. How was he any less equipped to handle our newborn son than I was? It was crazy how negative people were. Eventually they saw what a great father and husband he was, but then that was deemed “feminine” and “it’s not like he’s a real real man… ”
    It makes me sad that this is the case. It’s a no win situation right now, and until the attitude changes this is the crap new parents and dads get.
    Keep writing these articles, hopefully they help!!!
    Maria

  29. What a great post, these types of articles and comments are really starting to get me down and even though they are not personally directed at me, I can’t help but take them as such. It only ever seems to be the negative examples that come to the foreground, never the positive and I would be scared if she consulted a male perception first because she would probably ask someone resembling Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig who will only let us all down and she would use that to ‘prove’ her point despite it being an isolated minority case. (much like the comment above about the video game dad neglecting his heavily pregnant partner; just because she picked a wrongun she needn’t tar us all with the same brush)

    1. Thank you for reading. You’re absolutely right. That’s something I’ve trying to say for a long time now; just because a few bad examples of dads are getting the attention in no way should mean they are the majority. We have to keep plugging away to get rid of the stereotype.

  30. Here’s the deal. We dads get this rep. because we deserve it.
    Labor – An honest dad will tell you that the childbirth experience (I have been there for all 4 of my kids) is, or can be hours of excruciating boredom. If it weren’t for the pain of contractions adding some hellish drama, moms would probably say the same thing too. Men do, and say really dumb things when they are bored and are trying to break up the monotony – especially in a place they never want to be in the first place. I own the silly, stupid things I have said and done. I thought that I was smarter than saying anything about mom’s appearance; state of mind; relatives; favorite food; cat/dog/hamster/iquana/snake/bird; job; friends; or life choice (especially who she married), while in that environment, but It left me with very little material to work with. I failed, and failed, and failed, with maybe a laugh or two.
    Delivery – When the little one pops out it is very exciting – like getting a new car exciting. You see, the paternal bond doesn’t develop until, like your new car, you get to break it in a little. Anyone who believes there is some kind of paternal instinct or bond is needlessly fooling themselves. It takes a while for a guy to figure out what this kid will mean in his life, no matter how much he has thought about it in Uetro (I mean the baby in uetro, knucklehead). It’s ok to be really confused about how you feel, but if you relate this to anyone who is not wearing a beard, Birkenstocks, and a sweater vest (including women), they will look at you like you just said that you are sad about winning the lottery. Another emotional environment that is rife with opportunities to say and do stuff that will stay on an FB post for eternity.
    Child rearing and the rest of your life – The next 50 or 60 years will be new found territory of “Dadness” mostly doing the same self absorbed, well intentioned but totally wrong, needy stuff you have learned from your dad and life. And a lot of times that stuff is stupid, funny, and exasperating:). Live it, own it, let your kids rejoice in it.

    1. Here’s the deal; we DON’T deserve it, no one does. Jokes are jokes, but what the author at SM did was try and get clicks off of making dads/men look dumber than paint. That’s the wrong way to do it. Trust me, I know I’m a dork a good amount of the time, but my wife would never, even for a second describe me the way that author did. If she wants to belittle her own husband, go ahead, but leave the r est of us out of your joke

  31. Excellent post, thanks for it! My late wife died when she was 37 weeks pregnant, from complications related to pre-eclampsia, but, luckily, our son survived. So, I was a single father from day one. I constantly had to deal with the ‘bumbling father’ trope, even though I was doing EVERYTHING related to the upbringing of my son (now 3 1/2 years old, wow!). I literally had family members inquiring about whether i was going to ‘keep’ my son or let my parents raise him, just because, I guess, I have a penis? I would take him grocery shopping and people would praise me for ‘giving his mom a break for a little while’ or ask if it was mommy’s day off, or if it was my turn to take care of the kid or whatever. “Nope, she died. Every day is my turn.”
    There’s a sort of two-fold reaction to this kind of thinking:1) Thanks for the praise, yes, it’s hard, but 2) Why should I deserve praise for doing this as a man, instead of doing this *as a single parent*, which, single mom or single dad, big props to all y’all!
    Also, I do take a little bit of issue for not fully recognizing the fact that women who go through childbirth ARE RISKING THEIR LIVES. For Aztecs, women who died in childbirth or from complications in pregnancy (like my wife), go to the afterlife that’s otherwise reserved for heroes who died in battle. Until recently, becoming pregnant was MUCH MORE DANGEROUS than it is now, but it’s still not exactly safe. I’d like to give props where they are due: yes, women, you deserve the utmost respect, and yes, you can and should use the language of battle to describe your experiences. YES, you’ve earned it, and thank you for risking your bodies and your lives to produce the next generation!

    1. I was going through some of the comments, and yours really resonated with me. I had pre-clampsia and experienced hypertension and heart complications during labour and wasn’t sure that when they put my son in my husbands arms and shoved them out of the room to save my life that I would be rejoining him…. I cannot imagine what you have had to go through losing your spouse in such a way. Thank goodness your son survived! All the power to you, it’s fathers like you that I get angry on behalf of with useless posts like the one from Scary Mommy.

  32. Your post is very thought provoking and a wonderful response to an awful blog post.
    As a mother and a daughter of a veteran I do find Scary Mommys post rather insulting and mean spirited.
    I would never compare my or my hubs experience of child birth to what my dad saw as an active duty soldier. Likewise I would never demean the support and strength my hubs showed whilst I was whisked of for an emergency c-section.
    Her post is just so infuriating and pisses me off, it’s no wonder that many dads are reluctant to play a more active role in parenting when this is how they are portrayed.

  33. Fantastic post. My husband is and always was the better parent and was at times the primary caregiver. Our children benefited greatly having a Dad who co-parented. I get tired of the man-bashing and man-belittling. It isn’t any funnier than woman-bashing.

  34. THANK YOU. My husband caught our first and third children as they were born. With our middle we had to transfer to a hospital and not only did he get me there safely, he provided a zone of safety and support that helped everything go smoothly from there. I have heard him talk about birth with soon to be fathers. He is both encouraging and sure, sometimes joking too, but never idiotic and disrespectful. Thanks again for your writing.

  35. Over react much? I just read the article and LOL’d the whole way through. It was riddled with sarcasm. Something you might not be totally familiar with? I can understand why you think it wasn’t totally flattering to the male species, however it is fairly close to the truth for most couples about to have a baby! No one knows what they are doing, how to navigate through it all, or how long it’s going to take.
    Lastly, your harsh criticism of her using the term veteran and warrior princess is uncalled for. I’ve had two beautiful girls with 40 hours labor for each. It was long. It was trying. I needed strength from places I didn’t know. Staying up for that long is hard on anyone, nearly missing a birth is upsetting for any new parent (whether it be the first or last baby) but sleep is important, and that was apparent to me in the article. Xoxo, happy mommy with warrior lady parts who’se been through battle twice.

  36. Every person who becomes a parent has an opportunity to reinvent the role for the better. Your thoughts are important because they challenge assumptions and expectations of gender that are NOT REAL for many of us, which is validating and/or empowering in this regard. Thanks 🙂

  37. As many times as I’ve written a similar story on my own blog, the difference here is the amount of mothers you’ve had read and respond. I have many dads read mine and nod and agree, but that doesn’t help with spreading the word. You are making a REAL difference here by having that engagement and I applaud you for this. Well done.

  38. I’ve heard the comparison that war is to men, like birth is to women only because of the stress on the body. I’ve never been to war so I can’t make that comparison. Personally, I can’t stand when bloggers use negativity to promote their blog so she lost me at “scary” a long time ago. Our world is negative enough. I also can’t stand when their posts are reflective of that because it drives readers to them for attention. It’s attention seeking behavior. So, I’m not surprised at all by the feelings her posts evoke for you. As a mother and wife, I am more respected by my peers for being real but also respecting my husband and any role he chooses to take in our home. He is as good a dad to our kids as I am a mom and probably even a better spouse most times too. Thank you for this fresh perspective, I love it.

  39. As the daughter of an amazing, hands on, involved, stereotype-breaking father I deeply regret not finding the right man to be that type of father for my kids (I’m a single mom by choice.) I constantly struggle to find male role models for my son so he can grow into the type of man my father was. Long before it was hip my dad changed diapers, cooked dinner and was deeply involved in child rearing. Blogs that belittle and diminish how great dad’s can be are not amusing just annoying. And I agree, I am not a veteran. I gave birth twice but did not have to contemplate taking another life, I gave life. Two very different sides of the coin.

  40. I am always so pleased to meet or read about genuinely good men/fathers. My ex was a terrible husband and leaves a lot to be desired as a dad. Yes, I am bitter. He has no right to be less for his kids. I’m also riddled with guilt because I should have picked a better man. However, there’s wonderful, loving, attentive men in this world and I don’t believe for a second they’re all like my ex idiot. I expect the world to have two more someday, as I am raising two boys.

    1. I was a son, a brother, a husband, a father and now a grand father of two grand daughters and two grand sons. On a positive note, I think Christy nailed it. Leaving dads aside for a moment, I will simply add where she rightly feels proud by raising and bringing two more good men if not angels to this world, others given a similar circumstance should feel the opposite who are not!

  41. I see your point. Being a stepmom, there are lots of little messages out there in the world to paint us as bad guys. Cinderella’s evil stepmom, for example. While the rational part of the brain knows that those are just statements and ideas that have been around for a long time and no one takes them seriously…they do leave their mark. I feel like that is the point you are trying to make here. Sure, we all poke fun at each other and make jokes but we may need to think more carefully of how those little things can send a big message. I am married to an awesome man who is an engaged and committed father. He is just as hands on as I am with child rearing. It is frustrating to see him belittled just for a quick joke. I think this article is nicely written and made me stop and think about even little quips I might make in passing. I, for one, want my son to grow up and be just as mindful and involved as his father. Thank you for your insight!

  42. Agreed, but, sadly, many of those either fit my husband or my friend’s husbands. I’ve heard many of those in person from weary wives who are contemplating never giving birth again thanks to their ‘genius’ husbands. Not every guy is as involved as you’re saying they are. I wish they were though, Goodness do I wish they were. For the upcoming birth of our 3rd and final I’ll be laying down the law with my hubby because I need the support I know he can give and I know he doesn’t have to be a stereotype.

    1. True enough. But like I have said to a few other ladies who have rightly expressed this same point, I would never sweepingly say “all” men are awesome; but the majority are. Thanks for reading, I appreciate the conversation.

  43. I was recently travelling beside a father with his young daughter. While I haven’t seen all men do a good father example, this man was doing it. I think he was still in the stage of fearing judgement and criticism from a senior and I felt it important to talk to him. It helped that I interacted with another father walking his daughter in the aisle and did a quick save when she stumbled. My companion’s daughter had a half French braid and I asked if he had done it. He was self-conscious enough and looked embarrassed. I told him how my brother learned to French braid his daughter’s hair and he got really good at it! That helped get rid of his awkwardness. We need good men and good fathers. Old gender roles need to change. I look forward to the day when men do not feel awkward or harassed for being a good father, particularly when he is the only or primary parent.

  44. Thank you so much for writing this. That ScaryMommy article is rubbish. Not only is it not funny, but its not even particularly well written for what it’s trying to be. I’m a mother of one, with a kind, helpful and supportive husband and I am so sick of men being treated like idiots in the media. Adverts showing men as hopeless fools that wouldn’t survive if it weren’t for their clever wives and partners to show them the way. Totally uncreative advertising that wouldn’t make it to our screens if the advert portrayed women in this way. The men I know love their kids to bits, work their butts off to support their family and they deserve better than this.
    I read an article a few years ago that discussed changing gender roles. Expectation and clear direction for boys and men is changing (used to be: get a good job and support your family), but while this change is happening, we are also reinforcing negative stereotypes of boys. The article discussed that this will be damaging for the next generation of boys who don’t know what society expects of them, and only shows them that they aren’t capable.
    With men and women’s roles evolving, it’s important that we empower both genders to take on the world, not just women. I love reading articles like yours, with men speaking up and saying ‘hey, it’s not really good enough’, but what I would really like to see is both men AND women speaking up. It’s easy to have a quick laugh, but for the sake of our boys, we shouldn’t take the easy way.

  45. This article is a very good read… As the father of 4 kids under 11 and an “involved” dad. This stereotype is dangerous and counterproductive. Unfortunately it is often perpetuated most readily by the moms and wives we know and love. I have heard so many times from the spouses of friends- “So and so doesn’t help, I wish they would be more helpful like you”. In 99% of these instances- the husband wanted to help, was excited to help, was eager to help, but eventually they gave up after being told on endless occasions that they weren’t doing things “right”. The translation for doing things “right” , however, means doing them exactly the way their wives would do them. I have found my success as an involved dad comes not only from the fact that my wife and I share the load, but more importantly that we embrace the fact that each of us can do things a little bit differently and that’s ok! The alternative is dad’s that quit trying and martyr moms that only get more angrier as time goes on.

  46. I totally agree with everything you said. I am very proud to say that my father and my husband are my knights in shining armor. I try to treat them both with the respect they both deserve. I also try to encourage & lift them up on a daily basis. Being a husband, father, provider, protector, & teacher to their families can be a lot of pressure and stress. I hope that I am doing my part to keep those 2 things at bay in their lives. I also hope our sons & daughter, and now grandchildren, see the examples set before them of the roles husbands/fathers and wives/mothers play and how they should do everything they can to lift each up, not tear each other down.

  47. Thank you so much for writing this article, my husband is an amazing father to our two children even though his father was a less than stellar example of hands on parenting and I am so proud of him for working to break the cycle that he could so easily follow. It makes me so sad and also angry that men are portrayed as bumbling idiots when it comes to parenting because a fathers role is so vitally important in a child’s life and by demeaning that role we are doing an incredible disservice, not only to fathers themselves but also to our sons and daughters.

  48. I often wonder what my wife thought was going through my head when our children were being born. I can imagine that many women have similar views as the scarymommy article, obviously not all though.
    For me it was a situation where I was completely and utterly helpless. While my wife was in pain I could do little more than be there. While they went into distress and were sent off to the operating theater i was left standing in an empty room wondering if i would see my wife again. I was taken down to get changed into scrubs and told to wait, alone, standing there hearing my wife screaming somewhere down the hall. I have never felt fear like I did when my children were born. The elation when they are born is amazing but for someone like me who does everything he can to protect his family it was also horrifying.
    I can guarantee that no one knows how a soon to be father feel in that situation and it has nothing to do with falling asleep, blood, or little linebacker. It’s packing your dacks, being helpless and feeling something you can never describe in words to anyone.
    I love being a dad and try to everything i can with my kids. I’m not always attentive and i am a pretty relaxed dad but that doesn’t make me a target for being treated like i’m an idiot or a child.

  49. I’m so sick of dad bashing in the media and can’t stand Scary Mommy at all! Jokes like that are demeaning and rude. I know it’s been mentioned, but if men were allowed to raise their kids in their own way, there would probably be a hell of a lot more involvement. It’s a shame they’re treated the way they are, by the women who vowed to spend their lives with them.

  50. Reblogged this on I Have a Forever and commented:
    I really appreciated this. My husband was simply AMAZING those first few days after I had Elizabeth, taking over most of her care – supplemental feeding, changing, etc., as I was in hospital and in pain after my c-section and after we came home. And he has been wonderful with her ever since. She ADORES her Daddy and he is so loving with her. They play and chase and read together (he’s pretty much taken over bedtime booktime, which is fine by me ^_^). She runs to greet him when he comes home from work or if she wakes up in the morning before he leaves, wearing the biggest smile. I trust my husband with our daughter’s life because I know he loves her more than his own. <3

  51. Thank you for this! I really appreciated it. My husband was simply AMAZING those first few days after I had Elizabeth, taking over most of her care – supplemental feeding, changing, etc., as I was in hospital and in pain after my c-section and after we came home. And he has been wonderful with her ever since. She ADORES her Daddy and he is so loving with her. They play and chase, share snacks, and read together (he’s pretty much taken over bedtime reading time, which is fine by me ^_^). She runs to greet him when he comes home from work or if she wakes up in the morning before he leaves, wearing the biggest smile. Fathers are important and capable and a blessing to their children’s lives. Each parent has their own way of doing things and I remind myself of this all the time. Just because things aren’t done my way, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t done right for her. I trust my husband with our daughter’s life because I know he loves her more than his own. <3

  52. My children lost their Dad to cancer 5 years ago. I remind them all the time that they are in fact lucky… to have had a Dad like him at all. Because of stereotypes like you discuss, because some men think that it is a woman’s job to parent and they just babysit, there are lots of kids that grow up without a positive, loving Dad. Mine had theirs in their lives as long as it was possible for him to be there. They have wonderful memories of him to carry with them throughout life. They are indeed very luck to have had a man like him as their father, and I still try to honour that with them.

  53. I really want to agree with you, Papa. Maybe you personally are a fantastic father. But in general, in my experience, nobody needs to marginalize fathers. They do it to themselves. I have plenty of friends who are working full time and taking care of the kids. My ex was at a strip club the weekend of our daughters baptism. A lot of men are moronic about birth and during birth. I know a dad who went home to sleep right after his wife went through a particularly traumatic birth. Maybe some men are uncomfortable because they feel helpless or it’s something they can’t do. Sorry if pointing any of this out makes me “sexist” towards men.

    1. Thank you for reading. No, I don’t hint you’re sexist for pointing out situations like this, but all I would ask is that you recognize that those kind of men are not the majority anymore. That’s the kind of mindset we are trying to change. I had a very traumatic and abusive upbringing by my mother; if I thought the way of “well that was my experience, so it means all women are that way” I would have never met my wife or had a child with her. I am a great dad, and a pretty good husband, lol….I just want us as a society to move forward and be better

  54. It also reminds of an ex-neighbor who had a child with a lady he met at a nightclub. He so badly wanted the child, did everything he could to make things work for them early on. He loved her and cared for her, but the mother of the child was too young and carefree and kept getting drunk all the time. She moved home with the child and her mother was the one looking after the child. This father wasn’t allowed anywhere near. Broke my heart.

  55. Thanks for this article. I haven’t read the other article, but in reading yours, I get the feeling I don’t really need to. I’m sorry the other writer felt so unsupported by her husband and hopes she realizes that isn’t the case for all.
    My husband and I are a team. We parent as a team- going back and forth between who’s doing the heavy lifting so that neither gets too overwhelmed. For the first 3 months of my older son’s life, my husband “slept” with him on his chest every night. We were struggling with breastfeeding, and the baby wouldn’t sleep unless he was touching someone. This was the only way I could get any sleep at all. My husband would bring him to me for a feeding, then take him back afterwards so that I could try to catch an hour’s rest. Luckily, we all get more sleep now, but that is one of the things that showed me what a wonderful man I’d married.
    My husband once pointed out to me how hard it is to find a positive and caring father in children’s media. Most characters are orphans- one or both parents- or the parental figures aren’t shown at all. It’s now something we actively search for to try to make sure that the messages our boys get are balanced.

  56. My wife has repeatedly told me how much she appreciates me and what I do for her and for our kids. The type of male figure she has seen around her family has been that very stereotype, but she says that I broke it.
    However, one should never assume that all men fit into that stereotype. For those of us who put our families above all others, this is terribly belittling and I’m glad you spoke out. I will posit that we men are kids in grown up clothes, but that’s what keeps us young and vibrant, it’s part of what makes us great fathers. These things should never be glossed over.
    I was present for all of my kids’ births. Two C-sections and a natural birth. And you’re right, there is no comparison (I’m an AF vet) to war, nor is there reason to compare it to such a thing, it’s outright ludicrous. However, I just wanted to let you know that I’m on your side… Great stuff!
    Robert

  57. “In the trenches” Is a common idiom. It just means that you were doing the heavy lifting or “real work” as opposed to sitting on the side line. All she did was draw an analogy off a common saying, which originated from the trench fighting in WWI. It’s just as disingenuous as being “offended” with the phrase “beating a dead horse” because you feel that reiterating a point ad nauseum can’t possibly compare to animal abuse.
    But if you truly want to go that pretentious route what should and shouldn’t be compared, there have been studies that show that childbirth can be as stressful as war, and it can and has caused women to have PTSD. If child birth were a breeze, women never died and babies never ended up still born or in NICU, I’d agree that it was a silly comparison. Child birth (if it goes wrong) can make a woman fear for her life the same way combat can make a soldier fear for his. Yes, there are advances in medicine, but child birth is not a risk free endeavor and there are high risk pregnancies that have resulted in the deaths of mothers and babies alike.
    Having had a gun to my face and fearing for my life and giving birth, I can promise they are different types of fear. One is fear for your own life, one is fear for your baby’s. Which would be more frightening to you? A gun to your head, or a gun to your child’s? Exactly.
    The rest of your article I agree with. I just can’t stand feigned righteous outrage for the sake of it.

  58. I agree, and I thank you for speaking up about banishing the “Dumb dad” idea that is prevalent in today’s culture. If we put this ideas forth, how do we expect our sons (and daughters) to learn any different. BTW, I am a veteran of FIVE natural drug free births, and I was an active participant. Four of them at home, and one blessing us with twins.

  59. I’m a stay-at-home dad and I took ZERO OFFENSE to the scarymommy post that got you worked up. What I actually take offense to is people who go around taking the moral high ground on blog posts that clearly have more of a sense of humor than the critic does. It’s like taking offense to an Adam Sandler movie. You just look bad to me trying to call something out for being ‘immature’ or trading in stereotypes when that was kinda the point.
    Did she write it well? No, it’s poorly written. But do you REALLY THINK SHE WAS COMPARING HERSELF TO A VET? Come on. No way you think that SHE really thinks that giving birth is like going to war. It’s called a frickin’ analogy. And people use that specific one all the time.
    You can’t get more ‘involved’ than I am/was as a dad; I did it all, 8 years of every diaper change, et al. you can imagine until both kids were in school. And I don’t have a problem with the bro mentality she used to write her article. It was a fking joke dude, and a joke mostly aimed at women by a woman.
    Better tip for you? Stay off scarymom.com from now. (I’d say “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but then you might start a whole lecture about how men have every right to be in the kitchen just like women). Lighten up, Frances.

  60. Thank you for writing on this topic, one that frequently goes unaddressed under the guise of “taking a joke,” or “lightening up, Frances.” Solid work on the Stripes reference, by the way. Personally, getting a laugh from watching thick-headed and uninvolved fathers make blunder after blunder seems innocent enough and quite frankly just gets old more than anything. However, when you combine pop culture with real life dads who actually fit and many time embrace the stereotype (there is no shortage), and then combine that with real life women who promulgate a very low expectation of men and fathers you are left with something that starts to resemble a true social framework and not just a few jokes in poor taste. Taken en masse, I suggest this is more of a problem that some would care to admit, particularly for our sons.

  61. As a stage IV terminally ill Breast Cancer patient,I can say without a doubt in the world you do NOT compare your experiences to those of people who have suffered. When I die from cancer it won’t be because I didn’t “fight” hard enough. Please… Shut the fuck up about it being a battle or a fight or being brave. I am NOT a solider, I would never compare myself to that. I certainly don’t want it done to me.
    Okay now that I said that.. I LOVE my husband and his capibilities as a father. He is the baby whisperer. He can sooth the crankiest of babes. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him. He won’t meet a tot that doesn’t love him when they part.
    “Women are objects and men are dummies.” It’s a perception that has to change.

  62. Love this. Keeping my comment short because everyone else who commented covered it. You wrote the truth. Stereotyping fathers is not right. My husband is an amazing father. He changed diapers for the first six weeks mostly alone when our boys were born. I was suffering from post part depression . He more then stepped up he took care of me as well. He still does. Our boys are older now. He still amazes me everyday! Thank you for writing this.

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