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Daddy Dearest

June 13, 2007

by melbo

I think men and women are born with different talents, i.e. patience, multitasking, ease with technology(haha), etc. And this, along with how we are raised, is what causes most couples to take on “gender assigned” roles (cooking, fixing repairs, etc). In an admittedly very broad and stereotypical statement, I will say that women are by and large the caregivers. Whether they work or stay at home, they generally focus on meeting the physical and emotional needs of their children. Whereas the men are generally the caretakers, going out into the world to provide for the material needs of the family. I don’t see these basic roles as discriminating or sexist, I just see them as the boiled-down structure of how families generally function, both inside and outside the Church.

I do, however, think that the “gender assigned” roles and the countless other responsibilities between parents are interchangeable. When I went back to work a few months ago, I knew that since my husband was staying home with the baby, the dynamics in our home would change somewhat. I predicted that one day I’d come home, pick up my child and be told how I’m doing something wrong (kind of like what I used to do to him…). I totally called it; my child is a full fledged daddy’s boy. Just the other day, I couldn’t get Erich to calm down for his afternoon nap. One guess as to who rushed in to save the day? Daddy. As I left the room and he walked in, the fussing stopped almost immediately. The Man emerged a few minutes later, proudly touting: “Now that’s how you put a baby to bed…” I had been dethroned. Until then I had served as the self-appointed Queen of Naptime. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too downhearted about it. I acknowledge that although I’m sad I don’t know my son as well as I’d like to, parenting is something we’re learning together, and I’m relieved to know that [at least sometimes] one of us knows what to do!

Although I think the responsibilities of parenting could be done well by either sex, It seems to me that men & women tend to follow gender driven stereotypes because those are the roles that they prefer. Whether it’s nature or nuture, why almost every man/dad I know prefers to involve a computer or machine in virtually every possible task I’ll never understand. And ladies, I know you won’t admit to liking to do dishes and laundry because you probably don’t, but let’s admit it, we’re control freaks. We like to see things get done, and we like them done our way. As for men, I’m pretty sure they’d much rather spend their time playing ball with the kids, “fixing” the PC, and running to Home Depot “really quick.”

Rarely do our sweet Dads get to decide what tasks they want to take on, though. They usually hit a road block: The Wife. The unofficial pre-nup (NOT endorsed by the church… yet) says we get to decide what, where and how men spend their nights and weekends. To keep those men on track, women invented “honey do” lists. Take my parents for example. See, most people leave their parent’s home when they get older. My folks come to me. My father has his own room in my house. He stays with us 2-3 weeks a month on business and flies home every weekend. He works hard while he’s here, but I like to say he goes home so my mom can really put him to work. Every Friday my mom has a weeks worth of projects brewing for him as he steps off the plane. He never complains, though, he just keeps telling those corny jokes like a pro. What a trooper, eh?

Dads these days get a bad rap. While perusing through Father’s Day cards, I was surprised at how many are jabs about how lazy and ham-fisted people’s Dads are. I’m not married to a beer guzzling, golf addicted couch potato, so I pored over the card aisle in a long, disappointing shuffle while others I passed kept laughing away. Where’s the card for Mormon, diet-coke-drinking Jazz fans, anyhow? (If anyone sees one at the BYU Bookstore, hook me up. I’ll even settle for a picture of Mitt Romney and a crack about Disneyland.) Dads certainly have an unfortunate reputation for being slackers. Maybe I’m out of the ordinary, but I don’t relate to that characterization at all. I even find it a little offensive. I’m surrounded by hard working, righteous, devoted fathers, in particular my own father and my husband, and I’m very grateful for the blessings they are to me and my family. And that’s pretty much what I said in the “Snoop Daddy Dog” card I got for my ole’ Pops.

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4 comments

  1. Excellent post. My husband works really hard, and pretty much does whatever I ask without complaining or arguing. I have to be careful not to abuse it. He is out of town for the week, and The Kid really misses him. They’re buds! When I was out of town for a week, I came home to a thoroughly cleaned house – it sure wasn’t like that when I left! I don’t think my husband will get the same welcome. On the upside, he probably won’t care too much.

    Your comment about man bashing is spot on.


  2. I’d rather be “’fixing’ the PC”, eh? I’d venture to say you’re quite happy to have me around to “fix” your PC 😛


  3. Nice post. I totally agree about the man bashing thing. It’s like elementary school when people are mean and your mom tells you that it’s only insecure people who put other people down. Seriously, who are these women?

    And I’m super glad my husband fixes the PC — I sometimes just wish the laptop didn’t accompany us at the dinner table.


  4. What a nice thing to say about your ole Pops.
    (Tissue please…)



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