Let me ask you this, mums: when was the last time you were praised for hauling your kids around a busy supermarket, keeping a breakdown at bay in the middle of the mall, or being congratulated for pushing your little one on a swing at the park?
My guess is “never”.
So why are fathers being praised for the very things that mothers have been doing for aeons?
Old school ideas in a new age
It wasn’t so long ago that mums stayed at home with the kids while the fathers went to work and brought home the bacon. Just half a century ago it was common for fathers to have very little to do with the housework and the child rearing process, and it was extraordinary to see them out with the kids.
Fast forward to today, and now both parents often share the responsibility of being financial providers for their family. In fact, an increasing number of Australian mums are now the breadwinners of the family, bringing in more money than their male partners.
Despite the fact a lot of us are working mothers, society still assumes that mothers should be the primary caregivers of their children with fathers falling into a secondary or “babysitting” role. Thus, many fathers are showered with approving coos and ecstatic accolades from mothers, fathers, and even complete strangers when out and about with their kids.
An insult to fathers everywhere
What a lot of these daddy praisers don’t realise is that they are actually ridiculing the abilities of fathers around the globe. By congratulating fathers for being an active parenting participant, we’re telling them that we’re surprised they are interested or, perhaps even worse, capable of parenting at all.
Fathers are not babysitters. Having daddy fold the laundry or watch the kids for an evening so that mum can go out and enjoy some personal time shouldn’t be something for which mothers shower them with appreciation. Mothers don’t owe fathers for taking on these tasks; these are things any responsible, loving and caring parent and partner would do for his family.
Where’s the praise for all parents?
Women are more empowered today than ever before, which is phenomenal. But along with these deserved and relatively newfound rights come a lot more responsibilities – for mothers and fathers alike.
Unlike in the past, mothers must balance work with household responsibilities like vacuuming, signing school forms, and buying a gift for that party your child is going to next week.
But because mothers are busier than ever, these household chores often land on the shoulders of – you guessed it – the fathers who are now often equally responsible for work and household responsibilities like doing the dishes, managing the family calendar, and planning meals.
Parenting is a challenge, regardless of whether you’re wearing the “mum” hat or the “dad” hat. While telling dads that they’re great parents is a lovely thing to do, it’s equally important that we recognise the hard work and efforts of the mums and even the grandparents and caregivers of children.
So the next time you see a parent out in public, shoot them an understanding smile as they struggle to tame their raging toddler or tell them that you think they’re doing a good job. It’s something we all need to hear.