The other night, we had a wonderful “celebrating parents” event at Book Zoo in Oakland, California. It was amazing to see so many kids running around, parents relaxing, and parent allies enjoying the stories the readers shared with the audience. We fantasized about doing a reading and softball game next year…..
One of the things I shared from rad dad 7 was a list of ways fathers (and others) can fight patriarchy. Feel free to add more things and I’ll include them in the next issue of rad dad…Here it is:
Things Fathers (or really anyone) can do to challenge Patriarchy
1. Remind yourself and others that parenting does not equal mothering.
2. Wear your baby in a sling.
3. Take your kids with you everywhere you can—grocery stores, errands, to your place of work, Sunday afternoon celebrations, meetings
4. Believe in other men’s ability to parent. Talk to other men about fathering.
5. Vocalize your support of breastfeeding moms
6. Consider being a stay at home dad.
7. Take any parent infant class you are interested in. Be proactive in your parenting.
8. Talk to your kids about gender, class, and racial privilege. Be proactive in addressing the subtle ways these things are taught to your kids.
9. Start a new dad’s group, one where you take the baby with you.
10. Volunteer to help set up child care in the organizations you are a part of.
11. Ask others, especially non-parents, to help. Be a parent ally!
12. Make a point to ask if there are changing tables in the men’s restrooms everywhere you go.
13. Fight gendered parental roles – make dinner, do the laundry, mop the floors, clean the bathroom, watch the kids.
14. Combat images of bumbling fathers in the media. Talk to your kids as you encounter these stereotypes ala “Daddy Day Care,” “Mr. Mom,” “The Pacifier,” “Big Daddy.”
15. And, of course, write for Rad Dad as well as create your own fathering/parenting projects. And invite others to participate.
#13 is key. Fathers make a frequent mistake of standing back and making mom problem solve everything. Mom ends up being in charge of diaper changes, meals, naptime, bedtime, storytime...all things parenting. Meanwhile, Dad either becomes the dutiful assistant (Honey, get the bottle...Honey, get more wipes...)This creates gross imbalance in relationships and leads to the "bumbling father" image you write about.
Your message is a good one, "Figure it out, Dad!" Join in the problem solving! Relationships stay healthy when their are two people with effective and usually different ways to calm a crying baby (or handle naptime, or serve lunch, or take trips to the park.)
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