This article contains very helpful information about stay-at-home Dads, changing roles of fathers with childcare, and how little of this has caught up with their portrayals in popular culture. Great examples and links to relevant publications throughout!
I would completely agree with this article when it states that the dad’s displayed on television are lagging behind the reality of how helpful dad’s have become in the families they are apart of. Personally I have experienced an experience with my dad that drastically conflicts with the media’s portrayal. Both my dad and my mom are working parents. My dad however has the privilege of working a job that allows more flexibility compared to my mom. My dad does the cooking and shopping for our family. He is the one that usually takes on the role of being the “rememberer” for our family concerning doctors appointments and parties etc. My mom definitely does her fair share of the “invisible labor” or tasks around the house that might go unnoticed as well, however my dad has a schedule that allows for him to carry this role in my family too.
Something very special that I find in my parents’ way of running our house is their ability to take on an array of different tasks depending on what is needed for our family. There is not a gendered line for chores in our house as far as I can see. It is very much a partnership in which my parents both try to help the other run the household. I’m thankful for that. I feel that we are a healthier family because there are no gendered pressures associated with certain tasks.
The media’s way of portraying families is still somewhat skewed when they make dads seem incapable of certain tasks like cooking, or shopping, or caring for the children. They don’t give men enough credit and they put to much pressure on women to be the perfect ones in the family in regards to tasks like shopping and cooking. I don’t appreciate feeling like less of a woman or less of a future good mom because I’m not a good cook and I hope that my future husband will be able to cook for our family.
The media should begin to portray men as able because they are and they shouldn’t be so misrepresented. They also need to portray families that share the same responsibilities for different tasks, not ones where there is a clear gendered divide. Both men and women are at a disadvantage in families when there is a divide in responsibilities that society makes us feel is normal. Normal is whatever works best for your family. There is no special formula that is right or wrong.
This article hits very close to home for me, frankly, I’m disgusted with the “stay-at-home dads” that our culture has on television. My father, who was a sniper in the US Marine Corps for 15+ years, was a stay at home father. Yes, he would sometimes get deployed for months on end, but my mother is a geriatric physical therapist, so she couldn’t be at home, and they did not like the idea of daycare. Nor did my family have that kind of money. So, my father decided to switch his shift, working nights, so he could be at home with his family while my mother worked. I’m not saying everything went off without a hitch; there were instances of forgotten lunches, shoes, bubblegum in hair, having to learn how to braid, and etc. But you try to tell my father that he cannot do something. You try to tell a US Marine that by staying at home, raising his family, he is emasculating himself. No. Whenever people would ask my father if it was hard being a stay at home dad, he’d just smile and say, “I’d rather be with a 4-year-old and a two-year-old than a platoon of Marines. It smells better too.”
Unfortunately, that is how this society and culture thinks. They make fathers laughable and incapable of being nurturing and caring to even their own children. That’s just tragic. I fear for the fathers of the future, because the “father” role models they are seeing are Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler. In my mind, there is nothing more attractive than seeing a man who is good with kids. This act of love and compassion is not weak, it’s hard work. After working in my church’s nursery for five years I can tell you. The one positive that the men normally learn is how much women go through when taking care of children and that it’s not a walk in the park or something to turn their nose up at.
If men that our culture deem masculine are supposed to be these strong and capable people, then I want to put them to the test and put a baby in their arms and say, “See you at 8 tonight.” It takes a strong stomach to change a baby’s diaper. It takes an athletic person to run around after a toddler all day. It takes strength to twirl that 5 year old around and around or to wrestle with your preschoolers. I think parenting is a job that is for both, men and women. I know my father sets a pretty high standard, but it doesn’t take a Marine to raise an intelligent child. You will make mistakes, but guys, so do women, so does everybody! Hollywood, this isn’t the 1950s anymore and life is not the set of The Stepford Wives. We need to give our “house husbands” a little more credit. Raising children is no laughing matter, even if it’s done by a man.