Jenny Mollen always speaks her mind when it comes to parenting and this week, she's talking about a subject near to many mama's hearts: The fact that dads aren't babysitters or helpers. They are parents, just like we are.
In her column for Parents, Mollen, who is married to actor Jason Biggs, explains how mystifying the double standard around parenting praise can be for a woman and a man who have a baby together. She's certainly not saying dads don't deserve recognition (she gives Biggs, a hands-on dad, plenty of that), but wonders why fathers' parenting is frequently gushed over when moms' work is overlooked.
As Mollen tells it, she and Biggs were equally invested in becoming parents, and he was actually more of a natural at certain parenting tasks than she was. But when people would tell her she was so "lucky" to have a husband who knew his way around a baby, Mollen was confused.
"From the time Sid was an infant, friends, both male and female, marvelled at what an actively involved father Jason was," she writes. "But as much as I loved my husband, I didn't feel as though I should have to feel lucky. Nobody would ever say to a man, 'Wow, you are so lucky your wife feeds and bathes your children!'"
Exactly. Today's dads do a lot and that should certainly be commended, but fathers are parents and as parents should be taking care of their kids.
"Women are expected to love and protect and show up for soccer practice. For men, an hour or two alone with the kids on a Sunday during football season somehow warrants a trophy, or at least a World's Greatest Dad mug," Mollen muses.
Experts suggest that we stop saying dads help or that moms are lucky to have their help and start calling this what it is: A partnership.
"He's not 'helping' you because it's not 'your job.' We've got to change some of the conversation around these things," Claire Kamp Dush, an associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University previously told Motherly.
Sociologist Caitlyn Collins, author of the new book, Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving, previously told Motherly that this kind of rhetoric suggests that childrearing is primarily women's responsibility, which it should not be in a partnership between two adults.
To Mollen's point, it should be recognized that when a woman has a partner who is doing their share of the parenting, it's not about luck, it's about picking the right partner.
"I wouldn't have had children if I hadn't found a partner who was just as invested in raising them as I was. I am lucky that I found such an incredible husband," Mollen writes.
When we patronize fathers by throwing them a parade for picking up diapers, we're doing moms and dads a real disservice. Dads are totally capable of parenting, as many of them prove. And when we recognize that, the work load of mothers gets a little lighter.