Should Dads Get Extra Praise for Basic Parenting?

Post and photo by Sarah Fernandez.

My husband is a very hands-on dad. I honestly never expected anything less. There was no conversation about him having to chip in and share duties. It was just understood that that was the way it would be. We both worked when our first child was born and for sanity's sake and our financial situation, there was little other choice.

But lately I've noticed people making comments that he's so great because he'll give them a bath, watch them when I have work to do on a weekend, or even when he is chasing them around at an event instead of just standing around with the guys drinking beer. And he is great. That's why I married him. But nobody praises me for bathing my children or chasing them around at events or watching them while he's working (and I'm working too while watching them-just at home) nor do I expect them to. Shouldn't dads be expected to do just as much as moms and why are we letting them get away with not doing so if they aren't?

The way I see it is it took two of us to make these babies, and it's going to take two of us to raise these babies. When we decided to have kids, it was a joint decision (although I admit the subject was first broached by me), and parenting is a joint process. I know that my husband is not the only dad out there who is very hands on. I know a lot of them who are, but it just hits a nerve for me when people praise the dads for being so involved. Nothing less is expected of me as a mom and since we are both these children's parents, I don't think anything less should be expected of their father. My best friend's husband once said to her, "You mean I have to stay home and babysit?" Her response, "No, you have to stay home and parent." That's right. When you have a baby, you are going to have to be responsible for it from time to time (as in for the next 18 years).

For parents who are both working, I honestly don't know how you could have it any other way, but I know there are plenty of moms out there who still bear the brunt of it on top of their jobs. And I also completely understand that there are fathers out there working long hours and trying to make enough money for their wives to stay home with the children and they are working hard. But the moms are working really hard at home too and when the dads come home, despite their long work day, the moms still deserve a break. There is something about the change of pace that is a relief whether it is from work to home or home to out of the house. A break is not a dad getting the kids all riled up and then handing them back to mom for bedtime. I'm thinking along the lines of mom getting to go to the gym for an hour a few times a week or a designated night out once a week or just a few hours to go do whatever it is that you want without feeling like you have to rush back home to relieve her husband. Not only is it good for the soul, but it's also good for the children and father to bond on their own during that time.

Just because a mom stays at home to care for the children does not mean she should be on the clock all the time. And just because a dad brings home the paycheck doesn't mean that he should be given a gold star every time he takes care of basic parenting tasks such as feeding, bathing, and playing with the children. No matter what the work/home arrangement is, we are both the parents of our children and we both are responsible for their care physically, emotionally and financially.

I am not in any way saying that I feel underappreciated. I just think that what is expected of one parent should be expected of the other as well. It's important to recognize your accomplishments in raising your children, but it's also important to remember that a lot of this is what we signed up for when we decided to have children.

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