What’s The Definition of Parenting? Has The Dictionary Has Got It Wrong?

mombie
Disclaimer; I don’t normally use profanities in my blog posts, but I am paraphrasing so I felt justified using them. Also, I’m a little riled so I’m ranting in this post. I’m letting you know up front so you can stop reading if you’re easily offended by swear words.

I went to Google and typed in “parenting meaning” and it brought up one of those windows within the result screen where it gives you a dictionary meaning. This is what is reads;

parent
ˈpɛːr(ə)nt/
verb
gerund or present participle: parenting
1. be or act as a mother or father to (someone).
“exhaustion is incompatible with good parenting”
synonyms:bring up, be the parent of, look after, take care of, rear, raise, nurture
“all children are special to those who parent them”
See? See the mistake?
1. be or act as a mother or father to (someone).

That’s too cute. Um, father? Father is parenting? Really Google, is that what you think? Well Google, clearly you don’t have your own Facebook page now, do you? And if you do, you don’t follow parenting pages do you?

I wrote about it earlier in one of my most popular posts “Dear Mums, Please Talk to Your Husbands.” Okay, I know that I keep making it more popular by going on the “attack” on parenting pages where they keep sharing those “anti-dad” and “only mothers can relate to this part of parenting like tiredness, and constantly cleaning up, blah, blah, blah…” memes. I keep posting the link in the faint hope that I will get through to some of the mothers who keep sharing these, and some of the pages that keep sharing these.

Look, maybe it is not my place to be following parenting pages on Facebook. Maybe these are supposed to be secret women’s clubs and I inadvertently pressed like in the hope that I could be part of a community called parents. Maybe I could share in the joys, the heartaches, the jokes, and the tears. Maybe I could follow a page created to promote products for children and as a dad think “golly gee, I DO need to get a wooden marionette for my child, because plastic is SO darn evil and this Lego shit, well, we’ve all seen the memes about standing on Lego and how the flat nubs become razor sharp points once the lights go out.”

No offence to those mumpreneurs who have turned their love of all things crafty into a home business. And no offence particularly to those who are promoting natural products like wooden toys, 100% cotton clothing, and the like. You are doing a fantastic job and I fully support what you are doing which is why I follow your page. I hope that my additional like (and sometime two likes if I follow from my personal pages and my Facebook page for this blog) has helped you keep up the engagement with your audience. I hope that my likes at those non-gender specific parenting memes has also kept up the engagement with your audience. But I can’t share in those ones that are only aimed at mothers.

Look, I’m happy to sit back and think nothing of those “this is why mothers need to drink wine” memes. You can have them. My kids don’t make me need to have an alcoholic drink, but I’m not judging you. That’s your escape. That’s your outlet. This is mine.

But I would like a little more inclusion for us fathers. I wonder if the gender imbalance in the parenting arena is because many fathers feel like they are left out. I wonder if they feel excluded and instead of fighting or merely becoming trolls on your page to be delete or blocked (it has almost happened to me before I have pleaded my case), they simply lay down their guns and surrender (remember that song?) I wonder, if parenting pages, magazines and websites included fathers in more than just a passing comment whether we would see more active fathers, and more engagement to know what dads who are not Dad Bloggers are thinking.

And I think I really need to start calling out those pages. I really don’t want to, but I feel that maybe I have to. I will start by sending the page a private letter, email or message. I will ask them to be more inclusive. Maybe share a positive dad meme or photo or story.

Now I know you could argue that there are plenty of pages for dads that showcase dads in a positive light and share photos, stories and memes that promote active fathers. Facebook pages like Becoming Dad and their subsequent website do a great job of this, and whilst this page and the website are followed by women who can see that dads can be active, these are pages aimed at dads (I guess) rather than parents as a collective (and yet, they don’t exclude mothers). What I am talking about are those who use “parenting” in their name, title, subject line or catchphrase but then proceed to be aimed at mothers only.

mombie

“Fuck we are awesome mothers, dads can’t be half as good as us.”
“Dads don’t do any chores.”
“Dads are fucking lazy”
That’s the crux of many of these memes. I recently saw this Mombie one.
Mombie (n): someone resembling a living person, characterised by a staggering walk and a blank stare. Caused by having 1 or more children. Unlike a zombie in search of brains, the mombie is usually in search of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

Someone? That would imply a person who could be female or, wait for it, male. But, no; not dads.

Sadly, many of these pages are created by and run by feminists. I was going to use neo-feminists because the description given for that particular arm of the feminist movement accurately describes these women, but I didn’t. Take that as noted. Now I bring that up because these women are fighting the good fight on behalf of their “sisters” and they are breaking through the glass ceiling in many factors of gender inequality. That’s fantastic. But as I always state when debating or arguing with feminists; if you don’t fight for the rights of men in fields where they are shown prejudice against them, then the equality movement as a whole is missing a huge chunk of its fight.

I’ve already made my peace with a few of the women running some Facebook pages that I have gone on the attack with. That sounds harsh, it’s not really an attack, it’s more of me making them aware that I was offended by one of their memes. I found that it was unduly sexist against dads. I spoke up, we’ve discussed it; sometimes publicly on their page, sometimes privately in Facebook Messenger (a.k.a. Private Message).

I know that as a dad, as a male of our species I am in the minority when it comes to following parenting pages. I know that I might be in the 2% minority (statistic confirmed by a few parenting pages I have asked about their insights) but maybe, as I mentioned earlier, we are only the majority because men don’t feel included. And so with a 98% female audience it stands to reason that these “mums are the best parents” and “dads are shit” memes get shared and liked, and comments are then made that include the old cliché chestnut “too true.” Yes, if a “mums are great” or “dads are crap” meme is shared there will always be one mum that writes the “too true” comment. It’s the equivalent of the “too cute” comment that MUST be written by at least one person under a photo of a new born baby.

So now, it’s time to don my helmet and my chain-mail armour and grab my sword. I am going on a crusade. I want to see if these parenting pages can start to include pro-father memes. I want to see if we can get the 98% to start tagging in their partners and sharing THESE memes on their page to be “liked” by male friends who are dads. I am sure we can do this.

I am lucky in the sense that 35% of my followers are men, but I know that the vast majority of that 35% are my fellow Dad Bloggers. But, if any of my fellow Dad Bloggers or the non-blogging dads who follow (oh, there’s a great esoteric joke that I could go with, but, nah, those who are on my wavelength will have a laugh to themselves, I’m sure) would like to mention in my comments any pages that are so-called parenting pages but actually are more like “mothers only” pages, that would be good. And this is open to any mother who would like to join with me in what I might have enough courage to call a movement one day.

Should I start a Equality For Dads on Facebook campaign? What say you?

18 comments

  • I hear you. But I can’t help but wonder if the reason that such meme’s still get a lot of attention and traction is because for many moms they are or at least feel true. You and I walk in a lot of circles that contain super active pretty awesome dads. But the more I talk with Mom’s the more I realize that we are not yet the rule, but we still seem to be the exception.

    That isn’t to say that all of the other dads are setting in their lazy chair doing nothing, they just don’t take up the dad role the way we have. The way I see it there is a large glob of men out there who are dad’s but don’t do much, another large glob good dads who do a lot but are not very active on parenting sites or Facebook pages, and there is another much smaller glob of dads like us who are pretty active and do not like being considered the secondary parent, because we are not.

    What do you think?

    • I can’t argue with that. But what if sharing proactive dad memes encouraged those men who don’t live up to those standards want to be more helpful so they ARE an active dad like us.

      What if the thing that is holding them back is the notion that other dads are sitting on their bums doing nothing and their source is all the anti-dad memes being shared by mums.

      It’s hard to break the cycle if no one is showing you it can be done.

      What do you think?

      • Oh I agree wholeheartedly. A lot of new dad’s buy the idea hook line and sinker that dad’s are all bumbling idiots and shouldn’t even bother trying since they are just going to mess it up.

  • It’s a good point you make. I think there is more to the story than fathers not feeling included – I’ve seen research about how men and women use social media and it’s very different. I also think 100 years ago this was ‘women’s work’ well and truly and fathers for the most part were happy to keep it there – out of the important things they were pus using and discussing. Which led to the rise of women related media – parenting columns and magazines included. I think this trend has just continued into social media without much thought. Do start a campaign – I think it’s great that fathers want to be included and that motherhood/ parenting is more celebrated today than it ever was. ( not everyone likes the celebration)

  • I, for one, am getting REALLY sick of those darn memes! Yes parenting is exhausting and busy blah blah for BOTH parents, but there are also some gob-smackingly brilliant bits too! Post me those ones! P.S. Crusade away my friend!!

  • Ummm I think you are sending an angry message towards your own family about feeling unappreciated and completely undermining the fact that women still do the majority of the caring. Perhaps you have a personal issue that needs to be sorted out privately in therapy.

    • I am a little lost with your comment. I truly appreciate you making it but I don’t know how I am sending an angry message towards my own family. I AM actually appreciated and I try to do as much as I can with the housework. I cook dinner for us all every night, and I pack the dishwasher and clean the kitchen and sweep the floors (well we both do that). I bath the boys and get them ready for bed each night. And my wife appreciates that I do this. Thanks again for your comment.

  • I’ve never seen any anti-Dad memes, I’m sure they exist but perhaps my friends are above posting that stuff(I love to think). There are plenty of women out there who reject the over identification with ‘motherhood’. I think that who is being discriminated against is anyone who has not joined the Mummy cult, not just men, but career mums, childless folk, those past child rearing age. I don’t post any parenting or Mummy memes because they promote a boring stereo type. So you didn’t join the club, neither did I. Go us! I just don’t think its a gender thing. Its a drop out reproduce and obsess culture that is defined only by their Mummyness.

    • There’s a meme that goes along the line of “when a dad has a day off he gets a day off, but when a mum gets the day off she still has to work.” My days off are Saturday and Sunday. My wife works all day Saturday and after doing 2 or 3 loads of laundry, cleaning up breakfast, sweeping the floors and doing a few other chores including mowing the law when it needs to be done, I then get to spend time with the boys going to the park or the shops and when the toddler is having his afternoon nap I fold up the washing. So, you can see why I get a little pissed off at the anti-dad memes. You are SO right; they only promote a boring stereotype. Thanks for your comment.

  • I work with both parents and look at the fathers role in a family setting.
    My seminars are customised for either parent and each role each plays.
    I am Sydney area. NSW AUSTRALIA

  • These things can be self fulfilling prophecy. My husband this, my husband that. Then, the mom does all the work and wonders why the dad doesn’t. Now, I am not saying this is true all the time but I have seen/read of instances where this is the case.
    The old stereotype is b.s. in so many cases. It’s just seems to get sympathy and laughs.
    On with the crusade.

  • Heartily agree. Dads are SO important. However, equality isn’t the answer. Scenarios like the “Mombie,” are a result of pushing a baby out of your bottom followed by months of breastfeeding said baby on cue 24/7. Guys will never get that. Women also band together and gossip about their feelings more, social media included. Its’s just nature. Instead of equality let’s all remember mutual respect and understanding.

    • Maybe it’s a different sort of equality I’m looking for. I know we’ll never give birth or breastfeed, but trust me, I have done my fair share of sleepless night. Our toddler is now in a toddler bed. He was a great sleeper. Now that he isn’t in a cot, when he wakes up in the night he comes and wakes us up. At 3am the other morning I had to take him downstairs and sleep on the lounge with him. I’m still waiting for the feeling to come back into my left arm after he slept on it for 3 hours. That was 2 nights ago. Thanks for you comment.

  • I totally agree with what you say about the dad-bashing memes. Even if they make some people laugh, they help to perpetuate a stereotypical view of gender roles that helps to normalize outdated approaches. More aspirational and positive memes help to show dads the positives of being parents and provide a means of affirming the value of being engaged and involved parents.

  • Pingback: Five Reasons Why Mothers Need a Secret Mums Club | modern father online

  • Pingback: Are Fathers The New Minority Group? | modern father online

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