All This “Mom Rah-Rah” Crap is Pissing Me Off

I’m sure I’m just being a whiny crybaby, but I’m getting pissed off at these “family” resources that do nothing but focus on moms. They claim they are all about being family- or kid-friendly, but their content is all mom-this and mom-that. It seems as if dads don’t exist at all, or they show up and give their best Joey Lawrence impression, “Whoa!”

I’m tired of being considered a member of the domestically hapless sex. I’m not some gelatinous blob who is lavished with child adoration because I can make fart noises behind my knee. I’m not the guy who goes golfing every weekend because the thought of being around my kids is frightening. I’m not an idiot who thinks food comes out of the kitchen heater thing ready for me when I come home.

I am a man. I am a father. I am daddy.

There are plenty of others like me, too. Take my good friend Aaron Gouveia over at Daddy Files (@DaddyFiles). He’s the father of Will, a great toddler who occupies half of his attention. The other half is focused on his wife, MJ. Both parents work. Both dote on their son. They are equal partners in their household work, which includes caring for an raising Will.

Aaron is a major advocate for the dad’s role in the family unit. He believes in being actively engaged in his son’s life, and that dads are not to be discounted by the hyperactive “momculture”. His recent post, “Men Need Friends, Too“, argues that “Girls Night Out” is a celebrated tradition, but any suggestion of a “Guys Night Out” is akin to a remake of The Hangover, and that’s not right. It points out the double-standard that exists in the popular opinion of marital fairness.

I’m not an idiot. Despite people like Aaron and me, most of the moms in the world are moms to their children and their husbands alike. They do the majority of the domestic work in addition to whatever other occupation they might have whether it is full time child rearing or VP in the corporate world.

I get it. Today’s mom is the maid, cook, coach, counselor, etc. Guess what? That’s not much different than any time in history, except that women now have the additional responsibilities that come with a career. And, believe me, I’m not advocating that women should all stay at home. My wife has always made more money than me, she has a master’s degree and I do not, and she holds a higher position in her career than I do. And I’m proud of her for accomplishing all of that. I’ve pushed her to continue to reach for her goals while we have started a family that includes two kids and a dog.

What I’m saying is I’m tired of the double-standard that mom is the only person who grocery shops or cooks dinner or does laundry. I’m tired of magazine’s like “Parents” and “Parenting” throwing a bone to us dads once a year in June to say how great we are, but then only talk about women’s issues in their newsstand content the rest of the year. Obviously, a majority of their readership is women, but their articles could at least make an effort to include a dad perspective more regularly.

There are Twitter accounts that claim they are “family” services, but then all of their promotions or chats are mom-centered or even use a hashtag with “mom” in it. I wouldn’t mind this if there was a “dad’ conversation, too, but there isn’t. But that’s not to say that dads don’t exist or have their own community. There’s The Good Men Project Magazine, the #dadstalking Twitter chat hashtag, and more. These are not the mainstream.

It’s time dads got some regular credit for their contributions. Dads want to be part of the parenting conversation, and yet they face their own glass ceiling. They want to be marketed family products without a feminine undertone. Gender neutral is fine. Really. It’s OK.

Momsculture: stop ignoring us. You want our help. You want us to be involved. You want a partner. Then let us. Stop keeping us at arm’s length. And for goodness’ sake, stop celebrating yourselves for doing a job that is as old as time. Celebrate yourselves because you’re a quality person with dreams and accomplishments. Then celebrate us dads for the same reasons.

The Value of Teaching Your Kids Oral Editing

G is at the age where everything that enters his mind comes out of his mouth. This is often very cute. He will say “the darndest things” all the time and I wish I had a recorder for almost all of them.

But then there are times when you can see it coming that what he is about to say will neither be cute or appropriate, and sometimes downright embarrassing.

We had one of those moments yesterday. After talking the entire 35 minutes it took to get to the mall, G kept right on chattering his way through visits to Pottery Barn Kids and the Apple Store. So I knew what to expect when we went to Barnes and Noble: He would jibber-jabber about everything he saw; books on display, calendars for sale, toys that interested him.

He lived up to expectations, too. That is why I quickly turned him the other way when I spotted a middle school-aged girl on crutches. I quickly noticed that she was a recent amputee and that her right leg still had a gauze would dressing. There was no knowing why her leg was removed so close to the hip. Was it an injury? Was it cancer? That wasn’t for me to know. My job was to quickly steer G away and change he subject to distract his anticipated line of questioning. It worked.

We went upstairs to the children’s section to get G some Junie B. Jones books, and I thought we were safe. But when we went back downstairs, the girl went by us, and before I knew it G spotted it and started talking about it.

“What book are you looking for, daddy that girl broke her leg!” Yep. He said it just like that. If I could have amputated his lips, I would have done it on the spot.

This was obviously was a teachable moment. How I played the next few seconds was important. I got down real close to G and in a serious soft voice I said, “Don’t ever talk about another person like that again. Understood? That girl does not need you calling attention to her leg or any other part of her body. Got it?”

Message received. G didn’t say much after that and we left the store a few minutes later anyway. Later, when we were in the car, I explained why what he said was wrong. There were a lot questions about why her leg was amputated, and I did my best to answer them. But I’m not so sure we are clear of these moments yet. Only time will tell.

The Mystery Illness

We are starting our second weekend in a row with A fighting some mystery virus that is causing her to spike a fever. She has been to the doctor each time, but no one knows what is causing it because the usual accompanying symptoms such as runny nose or middle ear blockage aren’t there.

We have a great pediatrician, too. He¬†knows child medicine, and he knows our kids. He also knows we’re not some crazy parents who run to the doctor when our kids are suffering from general malaise.

Our options are limited. A can’t tell us what’s wrong, obviously, because she’s only a year old. She’s eating well, sleeping well, and all other signs are good. It’s just the fever. So we are left with treating with infants acetaminophen (still no infants Tylenol in our house after the last recall) and infants Motrin. But I am ambivalent about this treatment because her body needs a fever to fight the infection, however a fever that’s too high or one that lingers too long could hurt her brain development. At the same time, loading her up with NSAIDs like Motrin isn’t good either because it can affect her liver function.

The best guesses we all have about the fever’s cause is that teething is so hard for her that her body is treating like an infection, or she just has some random virus; and that this week’s virus is different than last week’s. If they are viruses, they could be coming from anywhere. A is crawling like mad at home and at daycare. She’s even pulling herself up on furniture. The origins, however, are irrelevant. There’s no way we could clean our house enough to ensure she doesn’t get sick. We’d run ourselves ragged trying to do that.

So, what does a parent do? This is one of those dilemmas that there is no clear answer. We have to just follow the doctor’s advice, and rely on our instincts.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

Parenting kids in public places is passe

I’m sitting in the customer chairs of my local Bank of America branch on a Saturday waiting to close my accounts, and I get chance to see something that interests me: the real situation when parents let their kids run around.

So far only a few people have come without any kids at all, and most have come with two or three. All were under the age of eight and spanned the world’s major cultures. Regardless of race or national origin, all but one family put limits on their kids behavior.

This doesn’t surprise me. It’s certainly more common than not. But it got me to thinking about my own childhood and the expectations placed on me whenever we went into a store, bank, or restaurant. I wasn’t always an angel, but I knew there were consequences, and I knew I risked angering my mom or grandmother. It was a once-spoken understanding usually before we went in or immediately after I started to act up.

Even when I wasn’t cooperative, though, I knew it was NOT OK to run around shouting and talking loudly. My job was to stand near the person I was with, not hang on things and not whine or yell.

That just isn’t so today, and I’m wondering when this major shift occurred in the parenting paradigm. When did public parenting reach its tipping point? Is this just a pendulum swing? If so, does anyone see it swinging back again?

I don’t have actual answers for these questions on any grand scale. But my answer to this trend, and I hope it is just a trend, is to make sure I parent my children in public places the way I was parented. I know there are plenty of parents who agree with me in principle and practice, and to those I give a big thumbs up. To the rest, I stick up another finger.

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Transitions

UPDATE: Just after writing this post, A was back in her bassinet, and through no lobbying on my part. She just didn’t like her crib. I love this girl.

My daughter is sleeping in her crib tonight. It’s her first night there, and it’s my wife’s sole decision. I am opposed to it. She’s not yet 10 weeks old, and I think we can get another few weeks out of the bassinet in our bedroom. My wife is aware of my feelings, too.

See, this beautiful little girl is our second child. She is also most likely our last. So, this first transition – from bassinet to crib – is a tough one for me in part because my wife wants to get rid of the bassinet. I don’t. I know, of course, it’s unrealistic to keep it until our kids have kids. But I’m not ready to part with it yet.

When we were going through these transitions with our oldest, a son, it was my wife who would dig in her heels over such things.

So, now I wonder is it a mother/son-father/daughter dichotomy? Is it a first child/last child thing? I don’t know. All I know is that I’m not happy about this move. There. I got that off my chest.