I recently came across some books one of my daughters made in first grade that made me laugh—and think! The books were about her disappointment that our long anticipated trip to Disneyland had to be delayed because Dad’s appendix burst. But the funny part was how they all blamed ME! See these pages:
I understand that I was the one my children were angry at because I was the main caregiver, the one who broke the bad news, and Dad was too ill to be mad at. But I had to laugh at how unfair it was (and is!) I am still the one my teens blame for life going wrong as well as the one who keeps their lives supplied and organized. This got me thinking about the differences in what society (and ourselves) expect from mothers and fathers.
I went to a parent education workshop and participated in an activity where we wrote down what a good mother, and a good father are—what a shocking difference emerged! The list for mothers was endless and included attributes like wise, warm, loving, protective, responsible, attentive, affectionate, and much more. The list of what makes a good father was just one trait—to be there physically and emotionally! Even with modern involved dads and working moms, our expectations are still ridiculously unbalanced. The bar is way too high for mothers—really unobtainable (even for professional parent educators) and way too low for fathers who are capable of so much more!
Think about it—why is it that we think it’s cute if we see little ones that are inappropriately dressed or messy out with their Dads? If I had taken the kids out that way folks would give me dirty looks and assume I was a bad mother! I think this attitude demeans fathers’ abilities and judges mothers way too harshly.
In summary, let’s try to expect more from fathers (and not reward incompetence) and ease on our (own) standards for motherhood!