You might be thinking, what does she mean “things dads don’t do”?! For the most part, dads these days are a lot more involved in their kids’ lives than the dads of yesteryear. Many of them, in fact, spend time with their kids when mom isn’t even around . . . (Just don’t call it babysitting!) Today’s dads can be counted on to change diapers in the middle of the night, pick kids up from school, and help with homework and bath time.
My husband and I both work outside the home, and we’ve managed to strike a pretty fair balance of parental duties and responsibilities between us. Even though we’ve made strides in parenting equality, there are still some areas where we fall into age-old gender roles. For us, there are certain things moms will always do, and there are a few things that . . . well, dads don’t do.
Book the babysitter
Show me a dad who lines up the sitter, and I’ll show you a goose that lays a golden egg—while riding on the back of a unicorn. I believe these phenomena are equally rare. No matter how evenly couples split the childcare duties, this one seems to always fall to the mom. Maybe the potential awkwardness of dad talking/texting with the babysitter (who will most likely be female and young-ish) is just too ingrained in our collective psyches. I’m not going to demand that my husband take over babysitter wrangling duties, but it is a task that can grow tedious for mom. Perhaps that’s one reason that girls’ nights out are so essential.
Think three steps ahead when making any plans
When mom starts making plans for date night or girls’ night out, she carefully considers how the heck she’s going to pull off the logistical feat of getting herself/partner to said plans, how that will fit in with the kids’ schedules, and how likely she is to get a babysitter for that time (see above). Dads don’t weigh all of this out before purchasing concert tickets or making plans with friends. They also tend to hang on (a little more tightly than mom) to the idea that making spur of the moment plans with friends is still possible.
Read books or post anxious questions on internet message boards about their child’s eating/sleeping habits
Check out any popular parenting website, and I’ll tell you want you won’t find. A plethora of dads posting things like: Should I only feed my baby green food from 6-9 months? If I don’t will she be obese by age 2?! Should I avoid eye contact with my baby while putting him in his crib at bedtime?! HELP!! No—moms are the ones doing this. Then they start to try out some of the crazy responses they received from a bunch of anonymous strangers and nearly have a nervous breakdown after these ideas don’t work. Not that this ever happened to me…
Kiss their child’s boo-boos
There’s just something about mom’s touch that can ease the pain and lessen the tears after a fall from a tree or a bike. Dad can reassure his kids that they’re tough enough to get back out there and try again, but it seems only mom has that super special touch (or superpower, if you will) to make everything better with a kiss—at least for a brief moment.
Agonize over whether their baby is breast or formula fed
Dads don’t really care as long as mom takes care of it. Just kidding—a little. Most dads will happily give the baby a bottle of formula—or of breastmilk—without thinking twice about it. Sometimes they’ll even give the baby a bottle of cow’s milk. Oops!
Judge other dads for their parenting choices
Ever heard of the Daddy Wars? I didn’t think so. Ok, maybe you’ve vaguely heard something about this media fabrication. Maybe you even typed “daddy wa…” into the Google search box just to see what popped up. Fun fact: the top result is “Daddy Warbucks.” Incidentally, if you type “mommy wa…” in the box, “mommy wars” is the #2 result—right after the blog site “Mommy Wants Vodka.” Hmmm… Anyway, I digress. I’m pretty sure most dads don’t waste their time judging other dads about whether they let their kids snack on Goldfish instead of organic kale chips or whether they have their child in day care or stay home with them.
Conclusion: Moms will always have a special role to play with our kids that will never change—no matter how far our parental equality evolves. BUT . . . I think we could learn a few things from dads too.