Tonawanda News

January 28, 2013

Dads deserve respect, too

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — This sentence has been said by members of both genders at some point when speaking about the opposite gender, but I just don’t get you sometimes, ladies.

Volumes of books, hours of television and thousand of words have been said face-to-face about how fathers should be involved in their children’s lives. Each of these words is absolutely true — kids need their dads in order to maximize what they can become and lead more well-rounded lives.

So why, then, are dads so often rebuked when trying to do just that?

Have any of you dads ever taken your kids to the doctor with their mothers? When there’s only room for one adult in the consultation room, guess which parent gets shunned to the waiting room with a condescending laugh and gesture? Not mom.

Have any of you dads ever been told (or have any of you moms ever said) “There’s just no love like a mother’s love?” That’s probably true. But no one can accurately claim that as irrefutable fact. No mom has ever been a dad. No one can make an accurate comparison. Not possible. And that’s said in a context that generally means, “I’m mom, so I love the kids most.” Again, how do you know? Why is it not possible for a dad to love their kids more?

Have you ever watched TV? You probably haven’t gone a day without seeing at least one commercial in which dad can’t wash the socks correctly, feeds his kids coffee grounds, tries to send them to school via the U.S. Postal Service or commits some other unexplainable act of idiocy. Really? Just because I’m not mom, that means I’m incapable of discerning chocolate from a granola bar and lack the capacity to care about the family portrait coming out correctly?

Women, without even realizing it, often discriminate against men — even the men they want providing proper behavioral models to their children. This is a far, far cry from the sorts of discrimination that have paved civil discourse over the past half-century. But it’s discrimination, nonetheless.

And it’s often subtle. Notice the next time the pediatrician calls the house. Even if you pick up, dad, they will probably ask for your child’s mother.

Re-read those notices from school. Those that aren’t addressed “caretaker” or “guardian” (a far more severe consequence of 21st century family relations than what’s being complained about in this space) are addressed to “mother.”

Pay close attention the next time you have to walk into your child’s school for something. Most of the female staffers will gaze upon you with a startled look, as though either you have really bad bed hair or they haven’t seen a man tend to his child in a month (to be fair, the former is entirely likely in my case).

Most mothers are caring, compassionate, giving and infinitely loving. But a lot of dads are, too. I am well aware that not enough dads step up to do the right thing with the children they sire, but that’s no reason to bring the rest of us down to their level.

And, yes, it does work both ways. Taking care of my children is not to be celebrated. It’s to be expected. That’s why events such as the day recently held in Niagara Falls schools to have father bring their children to school turn me off. I take my kids to school at least as often as their mother (I work the night shift and am not home to pick them up). Why should a single occurrence be celebrated of me doing what should be a minimum requirement? This paper doesn’t give me a cookie every time I spell “supercilious” correctly.

We reward mediocrity. Maybe this is why so many women come to expect so little from fathers. If that’s the case, then everyone involved needs to do better and expect more.

And that can start with women treating men as equals. Our society may never achieve total equality in every action and thought, but women have made a lot of strides over the past 50 years. Seems the pendulum swung the other way a little bit. Women can do a whole lot more than clean the house, so men can do more than go to work and watch “The Simpsons” in their underwear.

So what do I want?

Well, I want my little Penny and Rigby to one day live in a nation where their father will be judged by the content of his character, not the contents of his pants.

I want the world at large to recognize my status as a full-fledged parent to my kids, not just temporary caretaken when mom isn’t available or just some guy to carry backpacks and other assorted articles.

I want women to realize how the tiny, likely subconscious actions and words from them betray the thoughts they repeatedly express when it comes to fathers.

I can already imagine at least some women reading this rolling their eyes, making some comment about the content and/or me (perhaps profanity-laced) and summarily dismissing these words.

But before you forget about them and recycle this page, just take one moment to think — really think — if you’ve ever dismissed a father you know, even without trying to.

If you tell me I need to be a good father, I accept that. Just treat me like one when I’m already acting that way.

Contact Paul Lane at pjlnews@ymail.com.