A stay at home dad is much more honest when it comes to talking about child rearing.
Yep that’s right – We don’t sugar coat the trials of parenting like the majority of women do. We know that it sometimes sucks big time and we also know that we don’t know what we are doing.
A lot of you ladies out there would never say that out loud. Is that because society makes us believe that a woman must adore every minute of parenting and furthermore that a woman should naturally know all there is to know about child rearing?
If you admit that you don’t know does that make you any less of a mother? I certainly don’t think so but it doesn’t matter what I think.
Just because a woman can physically bear a child does not automatically mean that they know how to raise one. You only have to look at the statistics on child neglect to prove that hypothesis.
Anyone can learn how to look after a child and men can quite often be more open and objective to these lessons without any guilt (there’s that word again) purely because we know that we are not expected to know.
In addition us men are not afraid to say things like, “This parenting gig really sucks” or “my kid is a pain in the arse” or even “how the hell are you supposed to do that?” The majority of women I have encountered will never admit to these kinds of thoughts.
For the amount of defensive comments regarding child rearing I have come across I would have to say that deep down inside most women think that they are supposed to know what to do and feel guilty when they don’t.
This is magnified by the blanket parental disclaimer of “every child is individual so you must do what is best for you and your child”.
Frankly I find that kind of advice defensive and unhelpful. Why not just say what you think might work? If someone gives you advice on child rearing are they telling you that you are a bad parent or are they just trying to help you?
I know that babies do not come with a instruction manual but surely if you talk to enough parents who already have a few well adjusted kids then you can get a pretty good idea of the techniques that work and the ones that don’t.
I’ve had quite a few derogatory comments about my ideas on breastfeeding like “If you really want to know about breastfeeding then why don’t you ask a woman?”
Umm – Newsflash – I don’t know any woman who hasn’t been taught to breastfeed either by nurses in the hospital or by an experienced relative.
As far as I am aware it doesn’t happen naturally like some animal in the jungle that just manages to find its mothers’ breast and starts feeding perfectly first go. It usually takes heaps of time and effort and pain to learn how to do this and it is a freakin’ miracle that it happens at all if you ask me.
From an outsiders (man’s) point of view it seems that breastfeeding has become a highly competitive sport where endurance, the ignoration* of pain and personal sacrifice for the good of the child are all greatly sought after qualities.
For the mothers who do manage quite easily there is always a little smile of pride on their faces as they receive community applause and confirmation as to their status as natural mothers.
The poor mothers who can’t breastfeed are forced to creep silently to the shops in hats and sunglasses and buy formula in plain brown paper bags and hope to God they don’t see anyone that they know.
In actual fact there is more confusion and guilt around this topic than almost anything else. Some can, some can’t, some won’t and all the others won’t admit there are problems even when their nipples are bleeding and their engorged breasts are stretched to the limit and look like they have been a few rounds with Muhammad Ali.
Let’s face it – none of us first timers (mums and dads) really know what we are doing. Why do we pretend that we do? If we could all be a little more co-operative and a little less competitive then maybe all of our kids would benefit from the knowledge of the village.
So, if you really want to know the brutal truth about the full time raising of kids then I suggest you talk to a Stay at home dad. He doesn’t have to prove himself by pretending that everything is under control.
He knows that he has no idea…
*This really should be a word.
This article has been published on the Mamamia parenting website. Some of the comments make for some interesting and informative reading. If you would like to view them then please click here.