Gay Parenting

It’s Time We Talk To Dads Differently

I’ve come to realize, with every ounce of my being, that the worst part of parenting is other parents.

I have something I want to get off my chest.

I’ve come to realize, with every ounce of my being, that the worst part of parenting is other parents.

And if I’m being completely honest with you [*braces for impact*], I actually mean moms.

I’ve only been a father for five months now, and I’ve already heard enough off-putting things from random mothers to make me want to stay inside for a lifetime.

Here’s one example, of which there are many. I was recently walking down the street with my twins. I’d had a rough start to the day, so I was looking forward to a little fresh air and a nice cup of coffee. In the time it took me to walk from my house to the door of the coffee shop, roughly eleven minutes, two different women walked up to me unsolicited and barked “better go home and thank your wife for all she does” and “makes you thankful for your wife, now doesn’t it?”

I was completely shocked.

Here’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to yell back: “There isn’t a wife. It’s just me and my homosexual husband, lady. I’m a stay-at-home parent, busting my ass each day to make sure these twins stay alive.”

Here’s what I actually did. Absolutely nothing.

Honestly, I was in shock. I felt like I was back in school, too afraid to be honest when someone asked: “Do you have a girlfriend?”

It’s so much easier to keep your mouth shut in these situations. But we really shouldn’t.

I know those women weren’t out to hurt my feelings. But their approach represents a big problem with the way we think about, talk to, and speak with dads in our society.

Women have historically stayed at home and raised the kids. In fact, in 1970, only six men in the United States identified themselves as stay-at-home parents. Not 6%. Six entire American men. You could fit ‘em in a Kia.

That year, 3,731,386 babies were born in the US. Subtract six from that number, and that’s a lot of humans being raised by women. Since the dawn of time, women have shouldered most of the burden of caring for kids. That’s an incredible sacrifice that deserves all our gratitude and praise.

But it’s 2018. Modern families come in all shapes and sizes, and don’t always include stay-at-home women. Last year, the number of stay-at-home fathers in America was nearly two million. That’s a bloody big Kia.

But let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that I was a working husband to a lovely stay-at-home wife. What is the purpose of striding up to that husband and reminding him to thank his wife when he gets home? Is the goal to belittle efforts made by the parent who doesn’t do most of the housework? Bravo. Such compassion.

It’s time we take a look at the way we communicate with each other, especially with modern dads. Parenting is tough. It’s tough for everyone involved. It’s a time filled with stress and fear, and the last thing we need – male or female – is to have someone make you feel insignificant when you’re trying to do your best.

What does that look like? Here’s what I think.

  1. Be a little more sensitive to the fact that every family is different. Every parent plays a different role in their own home. That’s okay. Be generous. Avoid gender stereotypes altogether, and just focus on the fact that standing right in front of you is a parent doing the best job they can.
  2. If a friend says something inappropriate, speak up politely. This can be tricky, especially with our elders, but very few people want to hurt other people’s feelings. If you explain why a term like “partner” might be preferable to “wife”, at least you’ve made them aware.
  3. Spend more time discussing parenthood with the men in your life. You’ll be shocked to find out that they are rarely asked how they feel about this major life change. Most of them – straight and gay – often feel like others view them as the “babysitter” instead of an equal partner in the relationship.

Okay, here endeth the rant. Thank you.

If you’re a stay-at-home dad or a working father who’s had a similar experience, please share your story below. For no other reason than I’d like to know I’m not alone. And if I am alone… well, that’d be nice to know, too.

Until next time, stay sensitive. And crafty. Always stay crafty.

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33 comments on “It’s Time We Talk To Dads Differently

  1. Naya, Anny

    buddy, that book contract has GOT to be out there for you! You are an amazing story teller!…oh and an awesome dad too 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Simon D C Thomas

    thanks for sharing Sean – we are 2 weeks out so good to have the heads up

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Roxanne O’Connor

    My husband busts his ass to take care of me and my daughter and it makes me *crazy* when people (mostly women) insinuate that he is some lazy couch potato who doesn’t help out. It’s an obnoxious assumption.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. my good, dear friend. so much truth here. you know my story. for far too long, fathers have been as sideline players in parenting, relegated to sitcom fodder as absentminded foils while moms save the day. the narrative has changed much, but the rhetoric society uses as a whole to describe us, and the assumptions made about our roles, seems to be stuck still in the stone age.

    love you. thank you for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reading your powerful worlds, hearing your voice, imagining your mannerisms… it hurts my heart a little. Wish we were together venting and rambling and musing and waxing and questioning the world. It will happen again, but not soon enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your post. I can relate very much to it. I’m a new mom and I don’t have a husband at home, I have a wife. I can’t tell you how many comments I get when I’m alone with my son. Sometimes I say something and sometimes I don’t but when I do, I know I’m making an impact, even if it’s small. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You’re not alone!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Marion JUDE

    Hi! I’m not a parent, and i’m not a man 😂
    But I think you’re totally right! When m’en are stay-at-home dads, they’re considered as « lazy » and « unemployed ». When they work, they’re considered as absent. That’s not fair. Being a stay-at-home parent is as valuable as being a working parent. They both require a lot of energy, for both men and women.
    I really admire you for all you’re doing, and Stella and Cooper look so happy! Don’t change! You’re fantastic!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Right on Sean. I’m sorry to hear people have said such insensitive and outdated things to you. My husband took over the childcare reins and I went back to work after a year at home. Reactions of other people to this arrangement included shock, admiration, scorn, belittlement, incredulity, and humour. A lot of humour (like we were doing something outrageously ridiculous or that he would be a comedy routine of nappies on backwards). So many just asked “Really???” The Childcare arrangements often come down what a family can afford and I reckon that until paid parental leave, equally accessible by either parent becomes the norm, current arrangements will persist. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Stay strong and tell the next person who says something dumb to get bent.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Allison Lellos

    I freaking love everything about this! So well-written and painfully accurate. Thank you for speaking up for all of the hardworking dads out there who don’t get enough (if any) credit for being amazing, selfless parents for their babies xo

    Like

  9. Great post. I completely agree that we need to speak up more to “normalize” gay couples / families. Yes, the easy way out is to not say anything – avoid confrontation – but when they assume we have a wife / girlfriend or my husband is my brother, we need to have the courage to correct them (politely). It’s the only way their mindset or way of thinking will change. We are aware of non-traditional family dynamics because we are one. Most people assume. And until their way of thinking is changed, to broaden their ideas of what a couple / family is, we will continue to get: “wife” “girlfriend” “brother.” It’s time we stop taking the easy way out and stand up for ourselves!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Totally hear you on this – enough with the judgement of any kind!!
    Slightly different perspective but it drives me insane when my husband (who is an absolutely amazing dad and we both work and share parenting 50/50) is out with our daughter, or even carrying her, feeding her, doing basic parenting duties, ans *shock* he even took some parental leave to tay at home with our daughter while I worked..and I get comments about how lucky I am that he’s so good and hands on, and how he’s such an amazing dad..I mean obviously I’m the first to say he IS an amazing dad, but not because he PARENTS!! Likewise when on the rare occasions I’m out, and people ask if he is “babysitting”….grrr!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sean, back when Ken was a stay at home dad, one of the moms at the Y swim class for babies he attended with Alex asked him not to attend again or to stay on the other side of the pool because he was scaring her child since everyone else in the pool was “a mom” – yeah so we get what you are saying. I am always shocked at the insensitivity and arrogance of other humans. Presuming to know another person’s circumstance just demonstrates ignorance.

    Like

  12. Glee Corsetti-Hooper

    Dear Sean, Rampant aggression and antagonism is apparently in fashion all over the world. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be more careful how we communicate and also how we think. Bringing common decency back into fashion might be a grass roots, one-by-one kind and conscious, very worthwhile effort. You’re doing a great job and I’m very proud of you! I think it was wise of you to steer clear of those confrontations. But I’m happy you dared to address it in your blog. I’m not sure the problem is limited to Moms. I think the problem is closed-minded antagonism the the fixed thinking that goes with it. Keep up the good work. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Hallie Pope

    Sean! Had a moment to read your sweet story. I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg to a question surrounding males in society in general! We have strayed so far to one side, we neglect to realize that we are creating more of the same in the way that we talk to one another. I am not a parent yet, but I can completely agree that we need to start talking differently not just to Dad’s but males in general and supporting each other as human beings for all of our unique gifts. Of that you have many! Your writing is wonderful, and so awesome to see you succeeding in life in so many ways…I always remember our chats in the FC office 🙂 Much love to you, your babies and your man! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Sean! Had a moment to read your sweet story. I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg to a question surrounding males in society in general! We have strayed so far to one side, we neglect to realize that we are creating more of the same in the way that we talk to one another. I am not a parent yet, but I can completely agree that we need to start talking differently not just to Dad’s but males in general and supporting each other as human beings for all of our unique gifts. Of that you have many! Your writing is wonderful, and so awesome to see you succeeding in life in so many ways…I always remember our chats in the FC office 🙂 Much love to you, your babies and your man! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m not a man and I’m not gay, but as the stay at home parent I have heard the flip side of all that.
    “You should thank your husband for how hard he works so you can sit at home all day!”(if only sitting had been a part of the day, if only, oh wait , I got to sit while some small human actually ate it’s meals from my body)

    “It must be boring!” ( well it would have been if I had sat on the couch all day)

    “I wish we could afford for one if us to just stay home.” ( I don’t just stay home)

    ” What do you do all day?”
    (3 days later same woman) ” No, really, what do you do all day?”
    (Same lady ) “So what do you do all day?” ( This where I lost all the Annes and non-aggression I was ever taught and said,” I do what you pay someone else to do.” Her,” ” Oh what’s that?”
    Me,” I raise my kids.” And then I walked away.

    We need to remember the respect that previous generations actually had for one another. In the 1960’s my dad actually was a stay at home dad, and an older dad. No one ever asked what he did all day, and never did he get asked if he was the grandfather.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lost all the manners and non-aggression. Not Annes.

      Like

    • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experiences with me, Pam. I couldn’t agree with you more. This isn’t a gay or straight issue, or even a male or female issue. This is simply an issue of respect. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of what you’re doing, and know that your kids will benefit from all your hard work. Have a fantastic weekend!

      Like

  16. Sheri Shumaker

    The thing that makes me angriest is the way dads are treated on tv. It’s downright disrespectful. They are always portrayed as clueless dumb and someone to be made fun of by both the children and the mother. It’s disgusting and disrespectful. My husband and almost every man I know is intelligent and an equal partner in the family. Someone quite capable of not only fixing dinner but changing a diaper and cleaning house and making household repairs.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My husband stays at home during the day with our son while I work. I’m so glad he is home with him. We constantly talk about ridiculous gender stereotypes society (yes, a lot of mean moms) puts on fathers. keep doing your amazing work and know you are not alone !

    Liked by 1 person

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