Sunday, February 18, 2007

don't patronize me

If I claimed that blacks were irrelevant , you'd call me racist.
If I said women were unimportant, you'd call me sexist.
Prejudice goes both ways. So don't discount the role men have in the lives of their children. When I suggest including fathers in the programs you market to children and their parents, don't say my concern is frivolous and brush me off as one-of-a-kind because I spend time with my daughters. If dads are welcome too, then invite them. If they're not, then there's something wrong with your attitude, and you need to fix it.
Who are you to say that fathers are unimportant to their children? Who are you to assign us a minimal role in the lives of our children? Who are you to push the endless stereotype that restricts fathers to a supporting role in parenting, one where we are limited to the periphery of our children's lives, with barely a passing interest in their education, their friends and their hobbies? You would never say these things out loud, but your attitude screams it loud and clear every time you laugh at my claim that saying "moms" is not enough.
Who are you to deride my efforts to be the father my children need and say that I'm playing at being "Mr. Mom"? I am not the mother of my daughter, and I have no wish to be. I am her father, and I am proud of the job I do. I wake my daughter in the morning, I take her to school and visit her there, I help with her homework when it is hard, I arrange her playdates and take her to the doctor, I kiss her knee when she scrapes it, and when the problems she carries become too heavy to bear, I help her to unload them. Who are you to see me do these things and say that this is the province of her mother alone?
We fathers were there when our children were conceived, many of us are there when they are born, and those foolish enough to miss their children's childhoods always regret it bitterly. My friends see me with my children, and they burn with jealousy. It is your casual and repeated lie that children are a secondary concern to their fathers that has robbed my friends of the belief that they can enjoy the rapport with their children that I have with mine, and it is your easy acquiescence to fatherly absenteeism that makes it the rule of the land.
My children are not an afterthought to me, and I will not allow you to tell them they are. I am their father.


MJ said...

You are a really amazing dad and the girls are very lucky to have you there for them all the time. I don't know who the guilty party is, but I would love to have their number and tell them all about themselves. Sorry to hear about your aunt btw. Hoep we can reschedule.

Anonymous said...

Hey man,
kudos to you and your insights. Fathers are people too. Now that the barriers are being broken down for women in the workplace, I think that it is long overdue to begin to break down the barriers for men to be a part of the home. Of course this will take our culture longer to change since so few men have been brought up to understand what they are missing out on.


marauder said...

And also, women who entered the workforce started getting paid almost immediately. Instead, men who assume their fatherly duties start changing messy diapers and getting peed on. The pay-off takes longer to arrive.

But the change will come, eventually. It's going to take some time to get past the sexist attitudes that women automatically are better at child-rearing than men, that God "designed" us for the roles our society has drafted since the Industrial Revolution, and so on, but it will come. At Eowyn's charter school, where I'm on the board of trustees, I just made the argument that a new exercise and nutrition class we're offering has to invite fathers specifically and not just take it for granted that dads will know they're included in "mothers and their children." Everyone laughed the first time I brought it up, but I'm pushing it again.

It's a dirty job, being a masculinist, but someone has to do it.