“Good Job Ladies!” When Fathers Aren’t Seen as Equal ParentsJune 28, 2018
As I flipped through the pages of my local newspaper, the headline on the Views from Both Sides page grabbed my attention: “Even ‘good’ dads still not seen as equal!” Written as a letter to the editor, this piece really got me thinking.
“As a single working father of four, ‘Johnny’ [earlier writer] is on the mark when he discusses the gushing attention he gets when he’s simply parenting his daughter. I’m regularly told that I’m a ‘good dad’ when I’m simply in line with the kids anywhere (especially in the grocery store). It’s always a woman telling me that I’m a ‘good dad.’
I suspect these are the same women who refer to dads taking care of their own kids as ‘babysitting.’ Further, male parents are often actively excluded from female-parent-dominated activities and organizations.
As an example, I volunteered for the parents’ circle at my daughter’s school. At recent meetings and events, one of the mothers always ends with the statement, ‘Good job ladies!’ As a man, it’s hard to know how to respond to that. Until male parents are accepted as equals in parenting, women will continue to have a hard time being accepted as equals outside the home.” –Dr. Mark
Questions for a thoughtful analysis (feel free to add other questions to this list):
- Men: What jumped out at or resonated with you from Dr. Mark’s letter? What unresolved issues does it raise for you? Women: same questions.
- What assumptions did you make, if any, about Mark with “Dr.” in front of his name? What assumptions did you make about Mark’s ethnicity?
- In what ways are some men excluded—perhaps unconsciously—from female-dominated activities and organizations? How best could one point this out without blame and shame?
- What are some ways to actively include male parents in female-dominated activities and organizations? On whose shoulders should that responsibility rest, women or men? Why?
- When men like Dr. Mark hear, “Good job ladies,” is an immediate response really called for? If “no,” why? If “yes,” why, and what should that response ideally look like?
Please share your own thoughts and questions in the comments.
Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, trainer, and story-teller. He is a senior associate at Diversity Wealth, a contributing writer with The Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Atlanta Business Journal, and Catalyst. He can be reached at [email protected]