Posted by: babbo | December 24, 2007

Dads Are Not Second-class Parents

Life is good. I’m lucky enough to have a job as a writer for a major catalog company. I’m happy to have a job, although it is usually quite unsatisfying. But like most dads, my family needs me to work, so I work. Overall, I feel unhappy a whole lot — but that seems to be the case with most people. My family loves me. I have two wonderful boys, a beautiful wife and a fuzzy cat.

So why am I unhappy?

Because every day, when I go to work my heart breaks.

It’s not that I don’t want to work — I am far from lazy. I just don’t want to miss my kids growing up. The first step, the first word, the close relationship where I am more than a paycheck and a weekend play buddy. I used to have my own freelance copywriting business, working form a home office. My first son, Max, had me around every day. I was part of the inner workings of his day AND I paid the bills. My second son, Joss, does not have that luxury. I can’t take a break from work and play for a few minutes, or take him to the pizzeria for lunch. And quite simply, I feel he’s being cheated. And so am I.

Missing my kids is not a phenomenon that is relegated to me, or to the male population for that matter. It’s the 21st century, and many women are working just as many hours as men (when did the 8-hour work day turn into the 9-hour work day? Not to mention the countless parents that must work far more than this new standard of the 45-hour workweek).

The difference is that moms are allowed to talk about it. They’re allowed to miss their kids. Open up Parenting magazine, and it’s full of pages to help MOM. Meanwhile, dad is relegated to a one or two page article in the back of the magazine – quite often on a totally detached topic (see the dec/jan 08 issue for an article on the perils taking the kids on vacation, “On the road again,” – WHO CARES?). The title of the magazine says it all Parenting: what matters to moms. So I guess our job is limited to depositing the sperm and the weekly paycheck. Why is it socially unacceptable to talk about what we’re going through? Like somehow we were never meant to REALLY raise our kids. I have been told by family members that it’s my wife’s job to raise my boys, not mine. What’s that about?

There are two kinds of dads. One is unfazed by what I’m talking about here. He doesn’t mind being away from home. Maybe he’s even glad to get away from his family for various reasons. If this sounds like you, you are going to hate this blog. Please know I hold nothing against you. If you’re doing your best, that’s all you can do. But this blog very well might seem like a complete waste of time to you — except for the fact that you sought it out, so maybe you’re not happy with how things are after all.

The second kind of dad is what I call a Real Dad. Real Dads change diapers. Real dads get on the floor and play with their kids, and they feed them babas and yucky looking strained foods. And we miss our little pals — day after day, week after week.

This blog relates what I have been experiencing for the past 3 1/2 years since my first son was born. If it helps you in any way, I’m glad. I’m just sick and tired of feeling like I’m some freak because I miss my boys.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

And remember, you are not alone…

Additional Dads are Not Second-class Parents Articles:
Part 2: And Then There’s Dad
Part 3: A Divorced Dad’s Perspective
Part 4: Dads Need Help Too
– Part 5: Perceptions & Paradigms
A Question for Dads: Have You Been Treated Like a Second-class Parent?

Where’s the Dad in Toy Story

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Responses

  1. Hey Joey,

    I hear what you’re saying. I think the assumption on the part of a lot of people is that men have no nurturing instinct. I think this is false. I am (and it would appear you are) living proof that the need to nurture is not just a female trait. I think our culture needs to catch up on this idea.

    Thanks for writing.

    Cheers,

    Rob.

  2. My husband, like you, is a real dad. Kudos to real dads!

  3. Thanks for this – my husband and I are experiencing parenting as a team as well, and fight hard to make sure people/family understand that the dad is not an “addition” to the parenting, but a structural partner.

  4. Hey..I do happen to agree with you that dads have it tough – and they are really not given any options..I m glad u r a real dad..& i think more n more ppl now are getting around to thinking this way…all the best!

  5. Nice post. We constantly hear that Dad’s need to become more involved in the raising of children and yet popular media, advertising etc constantly reinforces the idea of the absent father. Mum’s faces on kids and baby products, ‘Mum’s and Bub’s sessions’ at the movies (as pointed out by a stay-at-home-dad on my blog), Mum’s all over parenting mags, etc.

    Thanks for your blog. A great resource.

    Reservoir Dad
    reservoirdad.blogspot.com

  6. […] Daddy Brain’s “Dads Are Not Second-Class Parents” Series […]

  7. It is so odd to me that Dad’s aren’t considered important in the parenting equation. This is not in any way to diminish the role of single moms, I was raised by a super single mom, but there seems to be this notion that Dads just aren’t as critical to a child’s well-being. That somehow we can be replaced, and really shouldn’t concern ourselves with spending too much time with our children.

    I can’t imagine not spending time with my daughter each day. Like Joey, I resent the fact that I can’t be there for every important moment, in the way that my wife can. But if I mention this to anyone, they reprimand me for complaining. “You should just be glad that you can afford for your wife to stay home with your child.” I am grateful, but is it wrong that I sometimes want to trade places with my wife?


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