The Stigmas of Fatherhood

Published on The Good Men Project, March 18th.

I’ve been reading a lot lately on Dads. There’s been a lot of stuff in the news that’s actually focused on US: More changing stations in men’s restrooms, A grassroots movement to get AmazonMoms to recognize fatherhood and alter its name to AmazonFamily.

It’s all fantastic stuff. Truly it is. I’ll tell you why in a second. Stay with me because this topic is all too important to me and SHOULD be to every other dad out there.

Since becoming a father, I’ve often noticed the negativity that flows when people refer to certain types of dads. The ones who aren’t active in our child/children’s lives, the dead beat who doesn’t pay child support or picks his kids up 6 hours late, the dad who thinks working 40 hours a week is sufficient.

Well, those are stigmas, dads like me would love to change. Those are the “types” of dads that give guys like me and so many others I know, a bad name. We aren’t all that way. Some of us bust our asses at work and then coach little league. There are dads who work multiple jobs. There are some dads out there who devote their efforts to different aspects of the parenting wheel like staying home and taking over the household duties. There are dads who serve our country overseas, spend too many nights away from home for a greater cause. All those dads? They earn their capes every day.

In my opinion, all us dads really want, is to not be grouped with those negative types and earn our rightful seat at the parenting table.

We want recognition, we want some acceptance of parenting, we WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED as a vital part of our child’s life. We want the option of taking our kids to the doctor, doing the grocery shopping, diagnosing a boo-boo, without any snarkiness, without the “Holy shit! He’s doing something” comments.

We want to be more than just the worker bee, the provider of funds. We want to end the negative stigma that in some circles, defines us. We want to be more than just a “babysitter” when Mom has to run to the grocery store. We want people to STOP being surprised when we make a parenting move. “Er Mah Gerd! Lookie there! HE’S FEEDING THE BABY A BOTTLE!”

With those wants though, comes a great responsibility. We ACTUALLY have to BE involved. We have to make ourselves accountable for more than just paying the bills, cutting the grass, or fixing the garbage disposal.

If we want to take our kids to the doctor, make up the grocery list or head up a school fundraiser that’s selling rainbow hair-ties and fluffy bows, Then SPEAK THE HELL UP. Until dads step up to the plate in regards to our seat, our parenting abilities, it’s just talk.

It’s like anything else in life: If you want it, bust your ass and go get it.

If you’re the type of dad who just goes to work, helps out here and there and it makes your kids happy? More power to you. Do your thing, pop. Happy kids make the world go ’round.

But that isn’t the dad I want to be. It’s just not my nature.

I have a favorite saying when it comes to being a dad, “Don’t be THAT dad”.

Well, “that” dad is the one who blabs and blabs about how much he does for his family, how he can’t go out with his buddies anymore, he hasn’t played golf in a month and acts as if being a parent is a burden, a liability, a broken bridge between his social life and home life, blahbity blah. I’m sure you all know one dad like that.

But listen, I’m not a perfect dad. Jesus H, am I far from it. I’ve made so many mistakes I’m buying stock in life white-out. I raise my voice when I shouldn’t, get frustrated instead of showing patience, react before fully understanding certain things.

I have a 3 year old who questions every move I make, a 5 year old who cries at most bedtimes, a 12 year old diabetic who deals with way too much responsibility for his age and a 15 year old daughter who suffers from PTSD. Trust me, I’m not perfect and neither are my kids.

I’m just a regular dad who wants what we all want. To give as much of my time and efforts to my family as possible and To NOT screw up my kids.

But, at the same time, I want to be part of the reason my kids AREN’T completely messed up. Is that too much to ask? For the media, for society, for some of you maybe, for my friends to understand that I just want a little piece of the parenting pie when something goes right?

And look, I’m not judging anyone or their situation. If you know me at all, you know that’s not my style.

Also, I would NEVER downplay the role of mothers. Again, If you know anything about me, you know how important my own mother is to me and my feelings towards how rough a mom has it.

I’m simply pleading with dads out there, BE Present, BE involved, and RISE UP and father the ever loving heck out of your kids.

P.S. Don’t do it because I’m saying you should, don’t do it because your buddy posted something about Amazon changing a name, don’t do it because Ashton Kutcher is on the front lines of “ChangingStation-Gate”.

Do it because your child/children depends on it, needs it, wants it and will be better off because of it.


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