12 votes

Dad bias: Why are fathers disproportionately praised for parenting their kids?

Tags: parenting

16 comments

  1. [5]
    Awoo
    Link
    Good article. I think it could have stressed one part of it more strongly though - mothers don't receive this kind of praise. In mothers it is an expectation, in fathers it is lavishly praised...

    Good article. I think it could have stressed one part of it more strongly though - mothers don't receive this kind of praise.

    In mothers it is an expectation, in fathers it is lavishly praised just that they are present and play with their kids.

    I think that instead of ONLY reducing the praise heaped on men, we could do a lot by heaping more praise on women for doing something that is honestly a incredibly tiring task. If the men deserve praise for presence and play, the women deserve medals.

    I hate that I have to do this on any post like this on the internet but I am speaking in generalities of course. [Insert all possible caveats and silly gotchas for nuisance nitpicks here.]

    13 votes
    1. [2]
      Tardigrade
      Link Parent
      Yeah. I agree with you on that one. Parenting is fucking hard and anyone doing a good job of it should be praised, not to the extent of patronisation though.

      Yeah. I agree with you on that one. Parenting is fucking hard and anyone doing a good job of it should be praised, not to the extent of patronisation though.

      4 votes
      1. vord
        Link Parent
        As a relatively new father, I would argue that parenting isn't hard per se, it is merely exhausting. The hardest part of being a parent to a baby or toddler is constant vigilance, and that doesn't...

        As a relatively new father, I would argue that parenting isn't hard per se, it is merely exhausting.

        The hardest part of being a parent to a baby or toddler is constant vigilance, and that doesn't require any special training. It does tire you out and make it harder to do other things, but that's a different problem.

        Becoming a doctor or engineer is hard. Becoming and being a parent is pretty easy... almost anyone can do it.

        That said, managing life as a whole is harder with a child, so I have mad respect for single parents who do so.

        4 votes
    2. [2]
      Catt
      Link Parent
      This is so true. I feel mother's do so much, usually in addition to healing from a physically traumatic birth, and they don't hear any praise. Just the opposite, they get judgement from choosing...

      ...we could do a lot by heaping more praise on women for doing something that is honestly a incredibly tiring task.

      This is so true. I feel mother's do so much, usually in addition to healing from a physically traumatic birth, and they don't hear any praise. Just the opposite, they get judgement from choosing to supplement their milk or such things.

      3 votes
      1. Luna
        Link Parent
        Parenting forums can be terrible about this. (Of course, people IRL can be, too, but they're less likely to say anything, or if they do, they're usually more polite about it.) Everyone is...

        Just the opposite, they get judgement from choosing to supplement their milk or such things.

        Parenting forums can be terrible about this. (Of course, people IRL can be, too, but they're less likely to say anything, or if they do, they're usually more polite about it.) Everyone is convinced they are right and can find some blog that agrees with their views, and it can be very difficult to figure out what's correct. You can call your parents/grandparents, but although their hearts are certainly in the right place, they could also be misinformed like forum posters. Most disagreements will be over trivial things, but when your child is young, you barely get any sleep, and now you have to try to sort through sources and you're far from an expert, it can make you a lot more scared/paranoid/stressed than you should be. And there are always condescending people who will tell you how bad you are for keeping them in a booster seat too long, or not keeping them in one long enough, and that your child has been put in danger through your negligence, and that can really get to you.

  2. [6]
    aphoenix
    (edited )
    Link
    My mother-in-law still calls it "babysitting" when I look after our three kids. The oldest is 12; I've been at this a while. It's a bit irksome, but I think it's really about history and is more...

    My mother-in-law still calls it "babysitting" when I look after our three kids. The oldest is 12; I've been at this a while. It's a bit irksome, but I think it's really about history and is more an observation about how society is changing; I try to take it at face value in the spirit it was offered; as praise. When I think back to when I was a kid, about 90% of the kids getting driven about where driven by their mom. So any time I hear someone say "you're a good dad" for doing something that I just think of as "parenting" I smile and say thanks, and I think about how our society is slowly becoming a more equal place.

    10 votes
    1. [5]
      SleepyGary
      Link Parent
      I've got a kid on the way and it's already a peeve of mine when I hear someone call fathering a child, babysitting. I'll still try to be pleasant but I feel like people need to be corrected on...

      I've got a kid on the way and it's already a peeve of mine when I hear someone call fathering a child, babysitting. I'll still try to be pleasant but I feel like people need to be corrected on this matter.

      7 votes
      1. [4]
        aphoenix
        Link Parent
        I understand - and I used to tel my MIL, "I'm not babysitting, I'm just parenting." But then I realized a few things: she's of a different generation she doesn't mean it as an insult at all she...

        I understand - and I used to tel my MIL, "I'm not babysitting, I'm just parenting."

        But then I realized a few things:

        • she's of a different generation
        • she doesn't mean it as an insult at all
        • she isn't going to stop saying it

        I'm absolutely not saying, "Don't correct people," but I think you should be prepared to be open to the positive and not just focusing on the negative in how people say things like this.

        7 votes
        1. [2]
          Rocket_Man
          Link Parent
          I understand you're probably right. But why is it acceptable for people to be that way? Why can't we talk to them for 5min and have them think about changing their behavior.

          I understand you're probably right. But why is it acceptable for people to be that way? Why can't we talk to them for 5min and have them think about changing their behavior.

          2 votes
          1. aphoenix
            Link Parent
            I never said not to talk to people for 5 minutes about it. Let me be explicit: definitely bring it up, in a very friendly way. Just make sure when you're bringing it up that you approach talking...

            I'm absolutely not saying, "Don't correct people,"

            I never said not to talk to people for 5 minutes about it. Let me be explicit: definitely bring it up, in a very friendly way. Just make sure when you're bringing it up that you approach talking to them the same way that they've approached talking to you. Be positive, be thankful for the compliment. Don't be snarky and say, "Actually, I'm not doing anything special". Remember that to them, what you are doing is probably special. When someone says, "Oh, you're being such a good dad" for dropping off and picking up, that probably means that their dad (or their husband) didn't do that very much. If you say, "This is just what the baseline for being an acceptable father is," then you're actually putting down people in their life.

            We get stuck a lot of the time on the specifics of what people are saying without being charitable in our understandings of what they mean. I'm just urging you to remember that sometimes it's not worth being right and it's better to be positive.

            6 votes
        2. SleepyGary
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I used to say something that was dumb or lame was "gay", as that was something my generation just said, after the second time my gay friend gently reminded me, even though she knew I didn't mean...

          I used to say something that was dumb or lame was "gay", as that was something my generation just said, after the second time my gay friend gently reminded me, even though she knew I didn't mean it in that way, it hurt her when I said stuff like that, I have never made that mistake again.

          2 votes
  3. just_some_guy
    Link
    Fairly new dad here and this is something I encounter very regularly. I drop the baby off at daycare and mom picks her up. Every 2-3 weeks on the 15 minute walk to daycare an older woman, usually...

    Fairly new dad here and this is something I encounter very regularly. I drop the baby off at daycare and mom picks her up. Every 2-3 weeks on the 15 minute walk to daycare an older woman, usually in her 60s or 70s, will tell me I'm a great dad. I'm literally doing nothing. I'm pushing a stroller. I can't wrap my head around it.

    On the flip-side, my wife started a new job and her boss spent the first couple weeks talking about how she must feel terrible leaving that beautiful baby at daycare. It's uneven and really unfair.

    8 votes
  4. Emerald_Knight
    Link
    Rephrasing and expanding on a point: Fathers are often known for being cold and distant, not really being involved in their kids lives except for maybe the occasional "dad stuff", not really...

    Rephrasing and expanding on a point:

    Fathers are often known for being cold and distant, not really being involved in their kids lives except for maybe the occasional "dad stuff", not really showing much affection, not trying to understand their kids, and perhaps even completely skipping out on their families, just packing their bags and leaving. This is from a combination of experience and media portrayal.

    So it's only natural that people who see fathers being involved in their kids' lives react either with trivializing their involvement (e.g. the "babysitting" comments) due to expectations of detachment or with overt praise due to surprise at the lack of detachment.

    That's not to say that it's fair or accurate, just that it's an issue of cultural perceptions of male involvement in child care.

    4 votes
  5. vexacia
    Link
    I think it's a combination of two things: a classical sexist refusal to acknowledge or praise what society deems women's work, but also a new-ish attempt at collective behavioral correction of...

    I think it's a combination of two things: a classical sexist refusal to acknowledge or praise what society deems women's work, but also a new-ish attempt at collective behavioral correction of fathers as a class of people, by way of attempting to encourage men to meaningfully partake in their childrens' lives (which many men presently do not).

    The latter's fairly cynical in its premise, and is clearly not fair to women who are simply expected to take the brunt of the labor without question or praise. But sometimes people don't respond well to fairness because they've been so thoroughly inculcated into a hierarchical role which is fundamentally unfair, and so correcting this without inciting resistance from the more privileged target (existing and would-be fathers) may well involve some latent unfairness.

    4 votes
  6. crwcomposer
    Link
    I've got twin toddlers. My wife and I both work full time, so when we're both home we try to split the child care evenly. Since they're twins it's usually pretty easy to divide evenly (you change...

    I've got twin toddlers. My wife and I both work full time, so when we're both home we try to split the child care evenly. Since they're twins it's usually pretty easy to divide evenly (you change one diaper, I'll change the other).

    She often works more hours than I do, so sometimes it's just me and the kids. I've definitely noticed that people are more likely to approach me and the kids than they are to approach my wife and the kids. As if a woman with kids is just how things are, but a man with kids is something to stop and talk about.

    3 votes
  7. CR0W
    Link
    I am fortunate to be a stay-at-home dad, and can say that I get my fair share of scorn out in the real world. I've been asked "what kind of man sends his wife to work" numerous times by both men...

    I am fortunate to be a stay-at-home dad, and can say that I get my fair share of scorn out in the real world. I've been asked "what kind of man sends his wife to work" numerous times by both men and women, it's not always praise.

    I can also say that there are times in a child's life when they need either their father or their mother. My daughter, for instance, needed her mother as she got older and her hormones started to kick in. She did not want to talk about menstruation with her dad, and there were things going on that her mom was better equipped to explain.

    2 votes