Sunday, July 13, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #76 - In Defense Of Fathers

Dear Readers,

You have all seen the viral picture of the Daddy combing his daughter's hair while holding his other baby, right? If you have not, here it is:

I love this picture. It is a sweet picture of a Daddy helping his daughter get ready for school because his wife - who usually combs their daughter's hair - was running late for work. Unfortunately, it was not the cute factor that made this picture go viral. It was the fact that a father was helping with the day-to-day domestic side of child-rearing  - and doing so successfully, with just a little innovation on his part - that made the world go gaga.

The story behind the photo is that this man's wife thought he would be unable to accomplish this feat - of holding the baby and brushing the elder daughter's hair. My immediate reaction to hearing this was upset. Apparently, his wife does not have much faith in her husband as a father! There has been a lot of praise from the blogosphere, saying it is about time father's pitched in; and a lot of criticism, saying that this man does not deserve a medal for helping to raise his child. Well, maybe he does. Because how often do we praise fathers for being capable?

If we look at any television sitcom, men are most likely being made to look like buffoons who would be unable to lace their own shoes if their wives didn't show them how to do it. They are good for a paycheck (which provides the large colonial houses in which these families always seem to live), humor filled discipline, laughs and not much more. Dating back to the very first episode of The Cosby Show, when Bill Cosby was sent upstairs with the wifely directive to "kill your son", modern fathers have been shown as removed from the real day to day activity of our lives. (Did we ever see Cliff Huxtable try to tame Rudy's nappy locks?). If we want to stretch back to the '50's through the '70's - a time when Father Knows Best and Mom waited for him to get home - we see even less of fathers outside of a disciplinary and instructive role.

Somebody had to! Her hair was always perfect!

At a time when everyone from Oprah to the NFL is pushing fathers to be more involved with their children the time has come for praise of fathers who already are involved! Mothers, you can expect more from your child's father! You can even demand more. Most importantly, though, you need to give him the opportunity to do more without criticizing him that he did it wrong and it will just be easier for you to do it yourself. You know how you feel when your mother criticizes you on your child-rearing skills? Don't pass that criticism on to your child's father!

A father is more than just a sperm-donor and a paycheck; he is a living, feeling person with emotions that society has told him he needs to squash deep down inside of him if he is to be perceived as a real man. We teach our sons that boys don't cry, that boys are tough, and then expect them to find their delicate side as soon as their children are born so they can be an equal partner in the day-to-day duties of parenting...when they will then be pushed to the sidelines if they do a task differently than their child's mother would do it, as if there is only one "right" way of doing something. In the quest for equality outside the home are women becoming the oppressors at home? (And I mean in an otherwise non-violent, non-abusive household).

Photo courtesy of © All rights reserved.

We cannot use the sexist and emasculating term "Mr. Mom" to describe a stay-at-home father and then complain that men (in general) do not do enough to help with the domestic chores. Why would they if they know they will only be made fun of for it? When a man wearing an apron and helping with dinner becomes a reason to drop everything to take a picture because it's "funny looking" what message are we sending to men?

Duh...what's a stove? Me use flaming stick!

The time has come to give men the opportunity to be fathers in the fullest sense of the word - and that means expressing confidence, not doubt, when they offer to help brush a child's hair; make dinner; or wash a load of laundry - and to stop complaining about how the oppressiveness of these tasks steals your time and energy


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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