If one reads parenting magazines or blogs, it seems clear: Fathers are inherently and hopelessly incompetent. We are so bad at parenting that we need to be reminded to spend time with our children or to play with them or to laugh with them or to make them feel safe.
Such advice insults fathers and further burdens mothers with the day-to-day labor of raising children. Such advice assumes that fathers can’t in fact help raise a child by, say, feeding or bathing it, getting it out of bed and dressed in the morning or putting it to bed at night, or taking it to the doctor or attending its school play, or any of the other quotidian tasks of raising children. Fathers can be counted on only to spend time with their kids, if we remind them regularly. Such advice also reinforces the assumption that mothers have to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to raising children. Nourishment? Shit? Vomit? School? Homework? … Those are all mom’s responsibilities.
We need to move beyond these outdated stereotypes. Stop belittling fathers and treating them as second-class parents. Expect them to do more. Maybe they will surprise you.