Just Show Up: A Dad’s Guide to Receiving WAY More Credit Than We Deserve
It’s amazing to me that in 2022 the bar for what constitutes a “good Dad” is still so low you could comfortably walk over it as if it were a crack in the road. A dad just needs to show up to get credit.
There is a local school that I will regularly take my boys (6 & 3) to play at after work and school. I take them out to burn off any excess energy while my wife gets to prepare dinner without being interrupted. (Not a sexist thing, she’s just a better cook and actually prefers this arrangement)
One beautifully sunny day the custodian of the school came up to me and said “You know, you are doing such a great job with those boys. I see you here all the time and it’s wonderful.” I was caught off guard by the compliment but thanked him and made some generic self-deprecating remark. But I couldn’t help but wonder how many times he’d done this same thing to a woman? How many times did he go out of his way to let a woman know, they were doing a “great job”?
While I would never have the courage to ask him myself the answer has to be ZERO, doesn’t it?
I’ve told this story to many men and women since that day and the response is almost always the same. Men say “Yeah, that’s happened to me before.” And women are confused. “Why would you get complimented just for showing up?”
Expectations Beyond Just “Show Up”
It’s because of expectations. With all of the progress we have made as a society to try and reduce stereotypical gender norms, the idea that Dad works and Mom does everything else is still ingrained in our subconscious. You can blame whomever you like for this problem but the fact remains it exists. But all hope is not lost.
My boys see me take them to the park, do the dishes, do the laundry and clean the bathrooms. They see Mom working from home and working longer hours than Dad and then finishing work to make dinner or help with the yard work. My friend’s family dynamics are similar. It’s changing. One interaction at a time we are changing the way they view a partnership.
So for now, I’ll take credit for just showing up. (I am terrific at just showing up) But my kids have to realize that there’s WAY more to being a Dad than just being there.
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