Thursday, June 24, 2010

50 things daddy can do

This is in response to a Mama Kay writing prompt " 50 things you look for in a man."

Mama's Losin' It

This prompt actually got me thinking about some recent articles about the role of fathers in the home, so my list transformed into "50 things daddy can do."

I was recently pointed to an article Are dads necessary?, and the gist is that -- according to a recent study -- we don't really need men as parents. Sure, we need the resources they provide to afford things, but at home they are basically the same as a babysitter when it comes to raising children. The female caretaker is really all a child needs, and the father is merely an extra set of hands. Doesn't sound too promising for our daddies and husbands, does it?

Finally, at the end of the article, they get to why daddies may be no better than hunky babysitters: moms want it that way.

"Fathers, roughhouse all you want. But we, gatekeeper moms, are in charge of the rest. We could give you detailed instruction, and you still couldn’t possibly do it as well.

Even women who want their husbands to help more with the kids don’t want to give up their traditional authority,” says Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. In addition to our pragmatic embrace of these roles, we still live in a culture with a deeply embedded notion of what a father is, beyond just another set of hands, and men, women, and children cling to it.
Well, guess what? I'm tired of it. I tired of the woe-is-me, long-suffering supermom claiming her husband is incompetent and cannot be trusted with her children.

Hey, lady -- you married him!

Shortly after that article came along, Working Mother -- a magazine that you would think would give daddies a chance since working moms need a little extra help -- published Is Daddy Safe?. In this opinion piece, debates if husbands can be trusted with our babies.  I've heard this so often in moms-only chat sessions. Moms seem to relish at trumping each other telling stories about how useless their husbands are at raising their children.

"He's never even changed a diaper!"
"Oh, he can't do feedings -- I breastfeed" (I guess you've never heard of a breast pump)
"He couldn't figure out how to braid her hair!"
"I left the room for 5 minutes, and ... insert major catastrophe..."
"He dressed my daughter in ...insert ridiculous outfit...!"

Well, here is a list of 50 things that any loving and able-bodied dad should not only be able to do but could probably figure out on his own if he really needed to.  By the way, I'm very proud to say my husband has done all of these.  Often.  Maybe instead of a "how incompetent is your husband" competition we can have a "how daddy is the father of your children" session.
  1. Hold a newborn -- even someone else's newborn
  2. Feed an infant from a bottle
  3. Rock his fussy baby
  4. Hug a frazzled mommy
  5. Do the middle of the night feedings
  6. Find a lost pacifier
  7. Feed baby food to a baby
  8. Make breakfast
  9. Make lunch
  10. Make dinner
  11. Wash the dishes
  12. Put away the dishes
  13. Send his kid to his room without dinner
  14. Give out treats... and take them away
  15. Deal with whiny, snot-nosed kids who-know-better-than-to-treat-their-mother-that-way
  16. Get fed up with the kids being snot-nosed whiny brats, but deal with them anyway
  17. Wash the laundry
  18. Fold the laundry
  19. Put away the laundry
  20. Go to a parent teacher conference
  21. Stay home when a little one is sick
  22. Take his sick child to urgent care
  23. Take his well child to a doctors appointment
  24. Take his child to the ER
  25. Have a tea party
  26. Play a board game
  27. Read a book to his kid
  28. Put his kids to bed
  29. Have a Jedi light saber battle
  30. Set up a camp out in the living room
  31. Change the stinkiest poopy diaper ever
  32. Exchange "stinkiest poopy diaper ever" stories with other parents
  33. Potty train his kids
  34. Teach his son to pee standing up
  35. Give his kids a bath
  36. Help his kids take a shower
  37. Babysit someone else's kids and keep track of his own -- at the same time.
  38. Teach his kids
  39. Take his kids to the park
  40. Brush his daughter's hair
  41. Pick out clothes for his kids
  42. Calm momma down
  43. Take his kids to school
  44. Help with homework
  45. Take his kids to sporting events
  46. Take his kids shopping -- for clothes
  47. Get hair cuts for his kids
  48. Schedule a massage for mom
  49. Hug his kids
  50. Be alone with all of his children without instructions -- for days
So, here's the catch:  men have been told...

"This isn't your domain"
"Stay out"
"Women's work only!"

No wonder so many fathers don't bother to try! What they need is more encouragement and less guilt trips. More opportunities and less instructions. Let them do it their way. Are you really afraid daddy is going to ruin your children by not doing it mom's way all the time? Have a little faith in him. I think that was in your vows somewhere.

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My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

great list of 50 things men can do

Cheryl said...

SO true - my husband also has done every one of those things you've listed. We are SO not into helpless fathers. My husband always thinks it's ridiculous when he hears of other men not changing diapers, or not getting up in the night w/ a sick child, etc.

Missie said...

Great twist!

Kristen T. said...

Hey Cheryl: So glad to hear my immediate group of friends are not the only parents out there who have "full-time daddies"!

Billy Rhythm said...

Great list! And, I'm perhaps bragging here, I can do all the things you man can do too. And you know what? I'm totally on board with you! How much different would society be if dads would just "man up"? And by "man up" I don't mean prance about like a rooster, chest out, full of machismo and bravado. Instead, I mean "man up" by hugging your son and telling him you love him; by letting your sick daughter crawl into bed with you at 3am; by making breakfast for the kids, and cleaning up after; and most importantly, showing your kids emphatically how much you love their mother.

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