I used to praise my husband for every little thing he did, admiring how much he’s a hands on dad. Changed a diaper? A total hero. Volunteered to take over the morning routine for a day? How could I ever repay you? Gave our kid a bath? Ugh, how selfless of you! I didn’t realize then how I was playing into the narrative of how society views fatherhood.

Despite my typed-out dramatics, I truly did appreciate him for how he assisted in caring for our son. But even more, I began to feel like I owed him praise every time he simply did what he’s supposed to do as a father. It wasn’t until one day when he told me to stop commending him every time he did something, like taking over a feeding or getting our son dressed.

“You act like these aren’t things that I’m supposed to do,” is what he said to me. And in that moment, I realized that he was right.

Related: Keira Knightley wants the world to stop praising dads for basic parenting tasks

I got so used to praising him for these basic parenting tasks, but it did more harm than it actually helped—and I realized that I needed to stop speaking of him as a dad in a way that classified him as a secondary parent. Yes, I am grateful for the ways in which my husband contributes to raising our child, but I was feeding into a toxic mindset that is deeply ingrained in our society’s culture around parenting roles—which is that parenting for moms is expected and well… for dads it is very optional.

And that is far from the truth.

Giving my husband a pat on the back every time he did a basic parenting task insinuated that what he was doing was out of the norm, or unexpected of him—and I was giving him a lot more credit for the basic requirements of simply being a father. 

Related: Moms are the ‘default parent’ because society doesn’t give us any other option

I’m not saying that I stopped praising him because I was scared it’d boost his ego. My husband is an amazing father, and honestly does a lot more for our child than I’ve seen other dads around me do for their own kids. For that, I give him his accolades. I do commend him for being active in parenting when he could easily have been the type of guy to use the fact that he works longer hours as an excuse to not be very active. 

I’ve heard stories from friends dealing with their partners not contributing as much, or expecting that because they carry more of the financial responsibility that they shouldn’t have to be as active in simple parenting tasks. These conversations have given me a deeper appreciation for the ways in which my husband does contribute, but over time I realized that equal parenting is what should be the norm. 

Because dads aren’t extra help. They aren’t live-in babysitters. They’re parents—just like us moms.

Parenting should be an equal contribution.

While our society obviously knows that it takes both parents to make a child, they surely don’t act like it also takes both parents to raise one. We still fall subject to gender stereotypes and unreasonable expectations of parenting roles.

But family and gender dynamics have changed a lot over the years. Many fathers aren’t the primary breadwinners anymore, with little to no time allotted to chip in and help with things like sports practices, party planning or bath-time festivities. And many moms aren’t the classic housewives with all the time on their hands to get the kids ready, tend to the household chores and prepare a nice, warm dinner to serve at the end of every day. So why does the bulk of parenting tasks continue to fall upon us?

Related: 10 phrases to describe dads that don’t reduce them to babysitters

Many moms are contributing a lot more financially nowadays, yet still shouldering a big portion of the parenting weight. In fact Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood Survey stated that 47% of working moms surveyed in 2022 contribute more than half of the household income and 50% of breadwinner moms still handle most of the household chores.

Ring a bell for a change, yet? If that doesn’t, I’m not sure what will.

Hands down, parenting should be an equal contribution. That may look different in every household, but it’s about each couple bringing their strengths to the table and learning how to support each other’s weaknesses. It’s about creating a balance of parenting tasks so that terms like “mom rage” and “mom burnout” don’t even have to exist. Have you ever heard of “dad rage” or “dad burnout”? Right, I didn’t think so.

So why should us moms continue to fall subject to being expected to parenting while dads continue to be praised as if it’s optional for them?

Related: Dear employers of dads—it’s time to make a change

That’s why I stopped praising my husband for basic parenting tasks. Because he’s being a father. He’s parenting. Plain and simple. While he does in fact work longer hours than I do, it doesn’t dismiss the fact that he’s a father. While he takes on more of the financial responsibility than I do, he isn’t the sole provider—and he is still a father

And yes, I still tend to thank him when he’s thoughtful around the house, like stocking up on groceries for the month when he knew it was on my to-do list to take care of. Or for quietly slipping out of bed in the morning when our son wakes, giving me a couple extra hours to rest. I’m thankful that he strives for equal parenting in a society where some dads sit back and let the mamas do it all.

I never want to stop showing my appreciation for the ways he contributes to raising our son and caring for our household, but I no longer praise the ground he walks on as if what he’s doing is abnormal. Because it’s not.

My motherly duties aren’t dismissed because I’m a working mama. I don’t get a pat on the back for finding time after a long and tiring day to give my kid a bath. I don’t get praised for having to miss a few hours of work to take my son to a doctor’s appointment. So why should my husband? Why should any father for that matter?

At a day’s end, we both have a shared job to do—and that’s raising our child. So let’s stop pushing the narrative of dads as secondary parents. Let’s stop praising them for performing basic parenting tasks. Let’s advocate for more equal parenting. We can appreciate them for being a hands on dad, but not saturate them in praise. Because they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing—and that’s being fathers.


Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, Millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.