20 April 2018

The Gender Parent Gap

Parenthood is a minefield. Not only of guilt, worry and anxiety, but also of double standards. 

I’m talking about the Mum and Dad divide.

When you become a mum, everything changes. People’s perception of you changes and the list of things that are now expected of you because you are now a mother is HUGE.

There is SO much pressure on Mum’s to look, act and parent in a certain way.

Mum’s don’t swear, or have tattoo’s or piercings, they don’t go out on the lash, or wear revealing clothes are just a handful of these expectations.

They do have to snap back into their size 12 jeans 5 minutes after having their baby, they still have to make an effort on their appearance despite having not slept for 6 years, they have to attend every baby class going, they have to have a house that looks like something from a glossy magazine, they should have tea on the table for their husband etc etc etc.

Sometimes I still think we live in the 1950’s.

However, what expectations are there of men when they become Dads? Do we expect them to change how they dress? Do we expect them to stop swearing? Or watching the football? Or drinking beer with the lads? Do we expect them to know which developmental milestone their baby is currently acing,and which ones they aren’t? Do we expect them to understand the in’s and outs of sensory play and why, if we don’t do it with our child, they will only ever know the feel of a plastic toy, and therefore never become a genius and their growth will be somehow stunted FOREVER!!! (or something like that).

No… we don’t. We pretty much let them get on with their lives, with a bit of babysitting thrown in.

The other day a friend told me that someone had seen her (ex)partner with her children at a local soft play. This lady was pretty much in awe of how this Dad coped with his own children and said to my friend ‘you must be so proud’.

Now THIS is what I’m talking about.

Why do Dad’s get praised for the things that Mum’s do ALL THE TIME. Not only do we do them all the time, but we never get complimented about it either. No one would look at a mum playing with her kids in soft play and think anything of it. That conversation would never have happened if the roles were reversed.

Why are our expectations of fathers so low, that taking them to soft play on a Saturday afternoon, suddenly makes them Dad of the year!!!

Now I’m not saying don’t compliment. I’m also not saying this lady was in the wrong, it’s a nice thing to say. I just feel that sometimes us Mum’s get left out because we are doing what is historically expected of us. Gender stereotyping is very much still in full swing when it comes to parenthood.

Look at the term ‘hands on dad’? what does that even mean?! There’s no such thing as a ‘hands on mum’ is there? Nope, we are just Mum’s. Yet again, the Dad’s get some kind of supreme title ‘ooh he’s a very ‘hands on’ Dad’ because he’s taken them to the park on his own, or changed a few nappies (shock horror) but no matter how much time we spend with our kids, we are still just Mum’s.


I’m not saying Dads aren’t amazing and wonderful beings, of course they are. I’m just saying it would be nice if a bit more gender equality was applied where parenting is concerned. 

It is 2018 after all.

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