When my daughter was an infant I took her to many places without Mom. Grocery stores, restaurants, and even to my auto mechanic to name a few. It was not a rare occurrence for women I’d never seen before to quiz me on where Mom was. Most implied that I was incompetent to handle a child and it was dangerous for me to be out and about without my wife’s supervision. A few didn’t imply, they were angrily emphatic about my child rearing qualifications.
My daughter is 22 now, so that was a long time ago. However, recent events suggest men are being marginalized in the childbirth and rearing arena just the same. Many women are adamant that men have absolutely no input into a decision to abort. True, the final decision should always be the woman’s – it is, after all, she who will bear the child. But, the pregnancy wouldn’t have occurred without the man and he deserves a chance to make his point, though not necessarily the final decision, too.
Many women would reduce men’s roll in pregnancy to nothing more than walking sperm factories, without a right to express their concerns and input. Not only are men discouraged from being involved in inception and pregnancy, that discrimination is seeping into child rearing as well, even if a collection of Congressional boneheads set up a meeting where only men testified about something widely viewed as a “women’s issue”. But while the Congress-o-Weenies were stupid, they were correct about one thing. It isn’t simply a woman’s issue. Men are affected – perhaps not in the same way, but affected – too.
The anti-child rearing attitude is spreading beyond such things as women being routinely awarded child custody in divorces simply by virtue of their sex – sometimes regardless of who could best take care of the child. It’s gone to how Dads interact with their children.
Recently, New Zealand rugby player Piri Weepu was excoriated by the Le Leche League for have the temerity to feed his infant daughter during an anti-smoking advertisement. The league demanded the offending scene be removed because they viewed it as an anti-breastfeeding message instead of an anti-smoking message.
The guy was simply being a good father and doing something completely innocent and normal. Apparently no one questions that…except the league. The New Zealand Health Ministry’s chief adviser, Pat Tuohy, admitted as much. “Piri by all accounts is a great dad and a terrific guy. Probably of all of the people who’ve been damaged he’s probably had the hardest time in all this because he’s just been doing what any dad would do in his situation and good on him.”
It seems that a Dad bonding with his young child, as mothers do when they breastfeed, is a no no. Here is a man helping raise his child rather than exhibiting the sort of bad behavior many absentee Dads unfortunately show and for which women and many men roundly criticize them. He is being lumped with men who don’t behave well because he is a man.
Luckily, there is a movement to reinstate the deleted scenes, showing that at least some people are able to see an injustice when they see it, but that sort of groundswell doesn’t oten happen for a non-celebrity Dad.
Pregnancy Isn’t Easy for Dad’s Either
Pregnancy and child rearing aren’t easy on Mom or Dad. Mom gets lots of physical pain and potential issues like post-partum depression to deal with. Men are often marginalized to the point of invisibility, even while sharing some of the non-physical issues of women and while also carrying their own. To make matters worse Moms often help perpetuate that notion.
I admire the efforts of single parents. Child-rearing is tough work even when parents work together. It is manifold alone. It seems that Dads who help, who choose to participate fully in their childrens’ lives, aren’t appreciated when they do.
We can’t have it both ways.
- French offer lessons in child-rearing (mysanantonio.com)
- The revolution will not be sanitized (matthewjperry11.wordpress.com)
- Supermom Smackdown (marieclaire.com)
- My Editorial on “Staying Social During Pregnancy & Beyond” in Expectant Mothers Magazine’s Jan 2012 Issue (greenwomanyc.wordpress.com)
- The BIG surprise! (laurenscrazyjourney.wordpress.com)
- Give up giving yourself up (mypostpartumvoice.com)
- Resources for Supportive Family Members (enfamil.com)
- What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? [Io9 Backgrounder] (io9.com)
- Tennessee Divorce Lawyer’s List of Things Every Divorced or Divorcing Parent Should Do: Part Four (herstontennesseefamilylaw.com)