A Dad Looking After His Kids Isn’t Being a Mother. He’s a Parent.

Dads, here’s formula for how to make a post go on viral on social media…

Write a lengthy exposition on how difficult it is being a parent, but then add a bit of dad magic – write about how you didn’t realise how hard ‘mothering’ your kids is; apologise to all the mums for how tough their life is; apologise to all the mums again for how easy dads have it; plus try and look handsome yet tired in accompanying photo of you and your kid/kids.

Seriously, try it. Get it in front of the right eyes, and boom – a viral post that will get picked up by the Daily Mail, etc. in no time.

The most recent one of these has labelled himself DadMum, and his post falls back on a parenting myth/cliche that really needs to be consigned to the wastebasket of outdated ideas: The notion that a dad taking care of his kids makes him a mum.

There’s nothing wrong with being a mum. I’m married to one. She’s awesome. But as things stand at the moment, I’m at home with the kid while she’s working. I’m not ‘being the mum’ and she’s not ‘the dad’ for working. We’re parents – she’s a working one, I’m at home.

I’m going to venture that the majority of people who share these Dad-Apologist posts & memes are not fellow dads, but mothers. A scan of the thousands of comments on them tends to confirm this.

It’s tough being a mother. There is a whole genre of parenting posts by mothers about how tough it is being a mother. I’ve always seen it as an extension of the networks of fellow mothers they may have IRL. In tough times, it’s always good to know you’re not alone.

As a stay-at-home dad, you may think that these dad posts are the types I would share. Except, they’re not aimed at me – they’re for mothers too. These are dads playing ‘mother’, because they don’t see the term fatherhood as related to the sustained barely organised chaos of being a parent. They’re not alone – the term ‘mothering’ is still interchangeable with ‘parenting’ for much of society.

Sharing content on social media is a curious, post-millennial phenomena. Facebook, Twitter, et al are micro blogs – similar to what you’re reading this on now. But by sharing, an individual is publishing. Sometime people share things that have wound them up (the Mail Online business model). More often than not however, it’s a sign of approval.

With these parenting role reversal posts, it’s also a way of saying ‘look how cool this dad is – he gets it’. It helps if the guy is good looking too – a DILF if you will. But he’s a fantasy. He is not a Dad turned mother. He’s still a father. And this father really doesn’t get it at all.

Dad-Apologist posts reconfirm the view that the dirty, messy, grumpy, sleep deprived, stressful aspects of parenting are women’s work. Yet the ability to support your family financially by having a career, and the enjoying fun times with your kids, is ‘being a dad’. That ‘the struggle’ is a woman’s burden alone.

By all means, lets celebrate and support fellow parents who are battling through tough times, but let’s stop labelling dads who care for their kids as mothers. We’re not. We’re still dads, whatever we may post online to the contrary.

5 thoughts on “A Dad Looking After His Kids Isn’t Being a Mother. He’s a Parent.”

  1. Thank goodness someone else felt the “DadMum” label iffy. I feel bad for the guy, but I wish he wouldn’t label himself as having to be a mum. He’s a dad, a father, a parent. He can be all three of those things and still be on the same level as his partner. I get so annoyed when dads aren’t treated as an equal parent, or competent.

  2. I love (strongly dislike) the implication that, now that he ‘gets it’, he’d like his wife to hurry up and get better, so that they can return to their status quo ASAP.

    His kind of attitude is so harmful, to both Dads and Mums. That post could have easily won me over if it had been “I finally get how hard SAHPs have it”, but no. Like you said, it basically boils down to “This woman-work is hard. Glad this isn’t my permanent job.”

    And now I’ve reminded myself of Kate Bush and I’m going to listen to some.

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