I’ve received a ton of compliments in real life and from people who follow my blog about how I’m a good dad. And you know what, it really has me irritated!
I’m not pissed off about the compliments. By all means, keep those coming and feel free to tell me how stunningly handsome I am while you’re at it. I’m angry because in my mind, I really don’t do anything out of the ordinary as a father. All I do is what any father should do. Help out with diapers, contribute financially, read to your kid, spend time with him, feed him, wake up for a late night feeding occasionally, etc.
These are the basics. These things make up the fundamental framework of being a parent. I should be EXPECTED to do these things because that’s what a father does. I shouldn’t receive praise simply for doing my job. But that’s how it is with fathers because the bar has been set so low in the past. If a man lifts a finger and helps out once in a blue moon he’s looked at as extraordinary, simply because the level of a man’s involvement with his children historically has been so paltry.
Throughout the last 8 months, MJ has thanked me profusely for helping out with Will. And each time she does it, I just look at her like she’s crazy. I tell her she doesn’t need to thank me. That I’m just doing what every father does. And she looks me square in the eye and says “I love that you think that way, but it’s just not true.”
And I hate to admit it, but she’s right. It’s not true. And that’s pathetic.
I know from meeting other dads, talking with friends and even befriending some new moms on the blog and on baby Web sites, that a large percentage of fathers aren’t nearly as involved as they should be. It’s getting better and dads are spending more time with their kids compared to 30-40 years ago, but it’s still not where it should be. And what makes things even sadder, is that so little is expected of us all we really need to do is just show up.
Just show up. Honestly, that’s half the battle. It’s like getting 300 points on the SATs for writing your name down correctly, or knowing you could pass that course in college just by having good attendance. Just show up.
I realize not every dad is going to attend workshops or join a group for new fathers. Hell, I never thought I would and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. But that’s not even necessary. As long as you show up and put it just the slightest amount of effort, that’s a decent enough start. Your wife/girlfriend will appreciate it, your kid is benefiting and you’ll have taken an important step toward added involvement with your child.
There’s just no reason to have a list of Deadbeat Dads. And I hate hearing about some of these moms who are married, but might as well be single moms because Dad goes out every single night and never lifts a finger to help with the baby. We don’t need to do much to look good. All the pressure to raise a child falls unfairly on the mom, so as long as guys don’t act like total douchebags it’s almost impossible to fail.
Yet with so little pressure and the miniscule expectations men have on them as fathers, too many guys still manage to screw it up. And there’s just no excuse for that.
Just show up.