Maybe you have heard about the magazine cover featuring a mom nursing her three-year-old?
I first heard about it on Facebook. Then Julie told me about it. And then we saw things about it on the news and on Saturday Night Live. Apparently, the article was about breastfeeding children beyond the first year and there was also talk of attachment parenting. (We do not read the magazine, so I am only going off what I have seen online about it.) Attachment parenting is something I didn’t even learn about until my wife and I attended the BlogHer ’11 conference last summer for her presentation, and we were asked about it.
I had to Google it once I got some Internet access.
Being a stay-at-home dad, I don’t worry about the labels that get put on moms so much. Nobody cares I always fed my kids with bottles or that I keep vaccination calendars on my cell phone. Dads are lucky in that way that if we bump into each other with our kids, we’re not going to look at each other and wonder if the other uses diapers that are better for the Earth.
I think dads get the opposite of the pressure that is on mothers. I would be surprised if a magazine cover would ever ask if men are “dad enough” because nobody really thinks about it. We kind of get ignored by media, and this is good and bad.
It is good because of the reasons I mentioned. There is no pressure to be a certain way. I just do what I think is best for my kids based upon how I was raised, how I see others raise their kids, how my wife and I have agreed, and what my gut tells me.
Regarding attachment parenting, I’ve always worn my kids in a sling until they get too big, mostly because I like to use my hands and because it is nice to have them there with me. We eat organic food because we think it’s better for our health, but we love Chick-Fil-A and the occasional McDonald’s run. I draw the line at them sleeping with us. I will nap with my children, but at night, I prefer to sleep alone with my wife. While I let my kids dress themselves and make their own decisions on most things, my kids address adults as ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ I’m not sure what label this sort of thing falls under, but it works for us.
As for the bad side of dads not really getting the spotlight in the media, it is annoying to watch television shows and the dads are always being the clueless guy who gets bossed around by the wife and kids. None of that is real life, of course. But it happens in magazines, too. When Julie was first pregnant, I read a book called “The Expectant Father” and it talked about this very thing, about how dads are perceived in the media and how that reflects in society. I didn’t really believe it, but I did notice this difference after becoming a dad.
Try it out the next time you are watching television, and see how dads are represented. It has gotten much better over the years, but the role of being a dad is still not accurately represented.
It’s not just media. I get it in real life where people make comments to me that they wouldn’t make to my wife, or didn’t make to her when she was stay-at-home. This has more to do with the idea of gender roles in the family more than just the role of being a dad.
I have been asked if it was really hard to leave my military to support my wife’s career. (For the record, it wasn’t.) I get called Mister Mom a lot. (I’m not a Mom. I’m a Mister Dad.) Others talk as if being a stay-at-home dad is a temporary thing or something we were forced to do because of the job market. (For the record, I choose to quit my job at the bank.) I’ve also been asked if it bothers me that my wife brings home the money. (For the record, no. It’s quite nice, actually.)
I realize I talked about a lot of things here, but I guess my whole point to this particular blog piece is that a magazine cover and headline like the one that is making the news is silly because the moms I know are more than enough for their kids. If there was ever a cover like that for dads, it would be just as silly. As parents who love our kids, I think we’re always trying to meet their needs and then give them more than that.
Are we parents enough? I think it is safe to say we are all trying.
I got my TOEFL test results. I got 102 out of 120, which puts me in the top category. My writing score, especially, was great. This means I can now go to any college or university I want, that will take me, of course. Big ‘Thank You’ to those who encouraged me. I was very nervous, but am really glad it’s over and I did well!