When I checked for a recent flight home with my family, I could only get four seats across; three in a row, and then one across the aisle. Usually we sit two in one row, and two in the row behind, each parent sitting with their favorite child. Not this time, and there was no doubt who would be sitting with the kids and who would be sitting across the aisle.
I’m a dad, and while I love my kids, and am perfectly capable of taking care of them on my own (I’ve flown with boys by myself numerous times), when it comes to the pecking order of parenting, mom sits with the kids, and dad is across the aisle.
The reason is simple: women are more high maintenance when it comes to parenting. They are more particular, more ideological, more high strung. It’s not that dads do anything wrong, we just do it differently and sometimes that’s too much for a mom to take. So we sit across the aisle, and watch from the sidelines as our wives console kids with sore ears, fix their snacks, and sort out in flight entertainment.
Doyin Richards is known online as Daddy Doin Work. (You might remember him from the photo of a dad doing his daughters’ hair that went viral last year). His book, Daddy Doin Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood, tackles this notion of dads not measuring up and moms not letting go head on.
“A lot of women are very well meaning, but there are cases where they tend to micromanage and the result isn’t good for anyone,” he told the Globe and Mail. “You know, like dad is giving his daughter a bath and he washes her hair last instead of first, the way that mom does it. And she’s there saying, ‘Why are you doing it that way? Don’t do it that way!’ Of course the guy is going to feel demotivated and then he just says screw it, and the woman is complaining about how she never gets any help. Moms, you have to let a dad do things his way. It might not be your way, but that doesn’t make it wrong.”
D.A. Wolf from Daily Plate of Crazy offers this: “just because it’s different, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
Just as with relationships, parenting has males and females coming from Mars and Venus too with both parents often on opposite sides of day-to-day parenting tasks. Usually, it comes down to who spends more time with the kids. Sure, parenting is a team sport, but one parent often will take control as the Team Captain and direct things. That control leads to the conflict.
When one of the team players does something differently than the Team Captain, the default reaction is that “it’s wrong.” The Team Captain has spent so much time finding efficiencies in the routines that if one of the players steps out of that line, the angst sets in. If the conflict erupts into a full blown battle, the team player could stop participating over fear of “doing it wrong.”
This is exactly why I no longer load or unload the dishwasher. I ‘do it wrong’ (according to my wife), so I no longer do it at all. This doesn’t help anyone on the team. The Team Captain resents the players for not participating, the players resent the captain for being controlling and we get conflict.
A piece in the NY Post went so far as to say “dads don’t give a sh–.” It’s not that we don’t care, we just care differently. This week, when my wife is away for the entire week on business, things will not be done to her precise specifications, but they will get done. The dishwasher will be loaded how *I* want to load, we might skip a bath, and a bedtime story might be replaced with a Star Wars marathon. Is that wrong or is that different?
I love my kids. I want the best for them, and I want them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. The route I take to get them across that finish line might be different than the one my wife would choose, but I’m no less passionate about getting them across it.
Yes, Dads are not the Momma. And that’s okay.