“Fathers be good to your daughters, Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too.”
-John Mayer, Daughters
Doyin Richards is a father who took a few months off from his corporate job to stay home with his daughters while his wife worked. He has a blog where he writes about parenting and his experiences being a stay at home dad. He recently posted this picture:
And then things blew up. He’s been on the news, on talk shows. Everybody’s talking about this picture. What was your reaction when you saw it? Mine was Wow, that’s a great dad… Not everyone had a positive reaction. He received a lot of positive response but also a fair share of negative comments. Many of them racist, some of them demeaning him for not working. I think it’s clear from this picture that this man is working. He’s multitasking and he’s nurturing and he’s doing the every day tasks of parenting.
I can’t wrap my brain around peoples’ negative reactions to this. To all the men who were hating on this Dad, let me clue you in. Every woman who sees this picture loves it. We think it’s awesome. You want the woman in your life to really find you sexy? Take notes from this man. It’s not your car or your wallet that we find attractive, it’s your dedication to your family. It’s your involvement with your children.
Real men get on the floor and play with their kids. Real men give their kids baths. Real men put the kids to bed and read them stories and sing them silly songs. Real men change diapers. Real men don’t view this parenting thing as something they drop into once in a while. Real men get down in the trenches with their partner and work as a team.
I know women who say their husbands refuse to change diapers. Some men who have a few children have never changed a diaper. I am not being flippant when I say that as a wife that might be a deal breaker for me. I don’t think I could respect or be attracted to a man who refused to do some of the most basic parenting tasks.
When we had my son 13 years ago (gulp), my husband was more at ease with caring for a baby than I was. I had a younger brother and babysat often growing up but I still was in a state of panic every time my son cried. My husband was calm and reassuring. He had grown up the oldest of four and his mom ran a day care out of the house for a number of years so he was completely comfortable with babies (and he didn’t have crazy postpartum hormones coursing through his veins). I was in awe of him those first few days. He took over when I was overwhelmed. He would get up with me in the middle of the night when I had to feed our son. I didn’t demand any of this. He did these things because he wanted to. He wanted to be a part of everything and experience this journey with me and our son.
With all three of our children he changed diapers. He played with them. He did everything I did with our children. Many things he did better. While I would sing them lullabies, he would make up his own songs that would make them laugh. While I would play games on the floor with them, he would come up with crazy scenarios and stunts that would engage them in a different way that seemed way more fun. There were times in those early days that I was a little envious of his funny antics that our kids loved. He was more creative and silly and fun than I was. But that jealousy was short lived. I loved watching him with them. I still do. Even now that they’re older and all way beyond the diaper stage, he still is just as involved with them.
When he takes them to school he sings along to the radio but change the words to make them laugh. He’ll still brush my daughter’s hair when she’ll let him. He plays basketball with my son and even when it gets competitive my son’s grinning ear to ear and laughing. He texts my son when he’s out of town. He still snuggles with my four year old and puts her to bed most nights when he’s home. He’s not just involved, it’s obvious to my kids that there is no where he’d rather be. And I’m so grateful for that.
As a stay at home mom, most of the parenting tasks fall on me. My husband works very hard at his job, but I know that when he comes home I get a little bit of a break. I know that I’m lucky. I don’t for one second take it for granted. I hope that men like Doyin Richards and other great dads out there keep doing what they’re doing. Hopefully eventually a picture like the one Richards posted won’t seem unusual. A woman could have posted the same picture and no one would have noticed. One day our society will catch up with fathers like Richards, like my husband, like many other dads I know who are great dads. There are tons of amazing dads out there. Our generation has improved on the concept of what it is to be a dad. Dads are no longer just the disciplinarians and bread winners of the past. But I still celebrate dads that do it all. As a mom, as a woman, as a wife, I am grateful to these men. I am so glad that I have a partner who is involved in all aspects of my kids’ lives. I am so glad that I married a real man.