8 Stupid Things You Should Stop Saying to Dads

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As Father’s Day approaches, dads all over the country are being asked what we want as a gift. Most of us say something along the lines of “I don’t need anything because I’ve got you and the kids and that’s all I need.”

Screw that.

I’m asking for something this year. Something specific. And I’m not just requesting this gift for myself, but on behalf of involved dads everywhere. Basically, I want you to stop making us insane by saying (mostly unintentionally) stupid, thoughtless, and insulting crap that makes us crazy.

Please read this list and take it to heart, because sometimes it’s the people we’re closest to who are the biggest offenders. The best part is this gift is free, it’ll lower our blood pressure, and it’ll stop us from secretly hating you every time you open your mouth.

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8. “You’re SUCH a good dad.”
Wait…what? Is he really complaining about people COMPLIMENTING dads? Yes, he is. And I’ll tell you why. When I’ve received this compliment, I’ve never been doing anything extraordinary. I didn’t just save my boys from oncoming traffic or rescue them by fending off a rampaging grizzly. I was just out and about with them being a dad. Sometimes I wasn’t even alone, my wife was right with me. And therein lies the rub — no one would ever give that compliment to a mom. As a dad seeking to be an equal partner in parenting, that means no special treatment. If you wouldn’t compliment a mom just for doing her job as a parent, don’t do it for dads either. We shouldn’t get praise simply for doing what we’re supposed to do.

7. “Looks like dad dressed the baby.”
I’ll admit, I don’t have what most people would call “fashion sense.” I think purple and orange are complimentary colors, stripes and plaids go together just fine, and “dressing up” means the jeans with no holes. So when it’s my turn to get the baby dressed, I’m much more concerned about simply dressing for the weather than the runway in Milan. It doesn’t freaking matter that the kid’s pants don’t go with the onesie, and matching socks on a baby are a moot point since they take them off anyway. Is the baby warm enough if it’s cold? Cool enough if it’s hot? Are all the parts that are supposed to be covered, covered? Then mission accomplished. Besides, what kind of weirdo is judging a little kid on his/her fashion sense?

6. “What do you do all day?”
I’m not a stay-at-home dad, but this one is for all the guys who have made the fundamentally awesome decision to raise their kids full time. The people who ask this question offer it up not out of an insatiable curiosity to gain insight, but rather to passive-aggressively render judgment. And the answer, according to most of the SAHDs I know, is “more than you think and more than you do” most of the time. Full-time dads are every bit the parents full-time moms are. That means they’re cooking meals, changing diapers, doing the laundry, and running around with the kids all day. Modern masculinity is changing, so I suggest you start adapting too.

5. “Don’t worry sweetie, mommy will be back soon.”
When I’m out with the kids alone and Will starts whining while Sam throws a fit, it can get ugly. But what makes it even uglier are the people (yes, this has happened multiple times) who come up with a condescending smile and say to my kids “Ohhhhh, don’t worry. Mommy will be back soon.” Huh? Are you kidding me?? First of all, kids have tantrums no matter which parent is there. Second, don’t tell my kids mommy will be back when she’s not there. Hell, mommy might not even be in the picture. Maybe I’m a single parent. Maybe I’m gay. The point is, you have no idea what my situation is and when you put your foot in your mouth like that you’re more apt to choke on it.

4. “You’re doing it wrong. Here’s how I did it…”
This one stings because a lot of the times we hear it from our spouses. And sure, sometimes we do the wrong thing. Who hasn’t put a diaper or onesie on backward? But other times — like with how we’re holding the baby or how we choose to discipline — it seems like the “wrong way” really means not doing it “your way.” And that’s not cool. Parenting is trial by fire and eventually we’ll figure out what works — just like you did. But we need that opportunity and we don’t need to be told we’re doing it wrong just because we’re not doing it like you do. Let go of the reins a little and you might find dads come up with an even better method or idea.

3. “Oh my. You’re brave.”
Again, this is said to me simply because I’m a dad out with my two kids. And to be fair, it’s usually uttered by someone older who is part of a different generation. But still, it’s not like I’m not fighting in a battle or traversing a field of landmines with my kids. I’m just out at Target. Are moms “brave” for taking their kids on errands? Of course not. You expect that from moms. So if you’re not willing to pin a medal of honor on her simply for being a parent and going grocery shopping, don’t bother with one for dads either.

2. “Oh look at you playing Mr. Mom today.”
Calling dads “Mr. Mom” is a cardinal sin in the dad world, and when you say it to an involved father you’re taking a metaphorical dump all over them. Fatherhood isn’t a version of motherhood, and dads aren’t playing the part of a mom. That implies parenting is some sort of womens’ work and we’re not having that. In fact, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled in the past 25 years and even working dads are focusing more on work/life balance because there’s a renewed focus on shared parenting and being present. That’s why, as articles like this one point out, it’s time to retire an antiquated term that is harmful to both dads and moms.

1. “Dad must be babysitting today, huh?”
If you follow even one of these pieces of advice, make it this one. Please, for the love of all things holy, stop referring to fathers as babysitters. YOU CAN’T BABYSIT YOUR OWN KIDS!!! We’re fathers, not paid caretakers. People would never look at a mom with her kids and ask if she was babysitting. Yet when a dad is out with his kids, so many people automatically and without thinking about it call it babysitting. Hell, even some dads refer to it that way because it’s so accepted. So just remember — dads don’t babysit. Ever.

Did I miss any?

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Sears is the Destination for Dads This Father’s Day

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What’s the first place you think of when you think about a dream vacation? Maybe it’s the Hawaiian islands, Mediterranean beaches, the Caribbean, or some place in Europe. And if I told you you could choose the perfect vacation spot and leave immediately, you know exactly where you’d go, right? Me too.

Sears, of course.

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Fatherhood is Unscripted

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When I was 14 years old, I got in big trouble at school and received a one-day indoor suspension. The punishment from the school was bad, but what I was REALLY dreading was the reaction from my parents. Especially my dad.

As expected, he FLIPPED when he heard I had been suspended. Naturally, he wanted to know why, and he automatically assumed the worst. He demanded I tell him the nature of my wrongdoing, stat!

“Dad, I was doing a science project outside of school with (my best friend) and while we were joking around I mooned the camera. Well, that slide got developed and he threatened to put the slide in his presentation and I told him he didn’t have the guts and…well, he did have the guts. So I got suspended because a picture of my bare butt was shown to the science class.”

I’ll never forget the look on his face. Anger, confusion, bewilderment and…wait, is that — amusement? Did a flicker of a smile just cross his face?

“Are you telling me you’re suspended because your bare ass was on a screen in freshman science?” he said.

There was a long pause before I confirmed that yes, that was indeed the case.

“Wow,” he exclaimed while shaking his head and barely concealing his smirk. “I was ready for drugs, drinking, fighting and all the normal stuff. I have to admit, there’s no chapter in the parenting handbook for how to deal with a science class mooning.”

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Raising Boys: Just Put Your Penis Anywhere

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“Will, did you pee in this?”

I knew the answer before my wife asked the question. I was giving Sam a bath when I noticed a horrible smell. It was pungent and stale, and I immediately knew it was piss — I just didn’t know where it was. The toilet water was clear, Sam didn’t let loose in the bath, and all the rugs on the bathroom floor felt dry.

That’s when my eyes settled on the long, white, plastic cylinder I use to fill up with water and wash Sam’s head. And suddenly everything clicked.

I knew Will had peed in it during his shower and just left it there.

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Should I Be Raising Feminist Boys?

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Being a man and trying to discuss feminism is…tricky. To say the least.

I’m a white, heterosexual male. Because of that, I enjoy privilege. That wasn’t always so easy for me to recognize or admit, but it’s true.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. I have no idea how it feels to have my self-worth tied to my waistline. I will never have to worry about dressing too provocatively to the point where that might be translated into a good enough reason for someone to rape me. And I don’t have to be concerned about getting paid 77 cents while my equally skilled coworkers earn a dollar for doing the same work.

So we’ve established I’m not a woman, I can never have the proper perspective to understand what women endure, and I’ve been told by “actual” feminists in the past that I’m no feminist at all. Which all begs the question, why am I bothering to discuss it in the first place?

The answer is because I’m the father of two boys who need to learn some valuable lessons feminism has to offer.

A man who is inherently incapable of understanding feminism charged with instilling feminist values in boys who will also be unable to fully understand them. It’s an interesting little conundrum, isn’t it?

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