Ok, moms. We’ve had our go at parenthood. We’ve moved the finish line forward on reading before private school pre-k applications are due and potty training before age two.
Plus we’ve stressed the importance of bringing only handmade patisserie quality cupcakes to school bake sales.
Now it’s time to let dads take over.
Starting with the dad who uses a vacuum cleaner to arrange his toddler’s hair into a perfect ponytail. If you haven’t watched this YouTube clip, please drop all organic food mashing, breastmilk pumping, free range chicken raising, and check it out right now:
Next, check out Andy Hines, the California stay-at-home dad who refuses to throw expensive, nerve-wracking birthday parties. (You know, the kind that beforehand make you feel as if you deserve a MacArthur Genius Award, while leaving the distinct impression afterwards that you’ve been run over by a Mack truck?)
Instead, Hinds takes his four-year-old twin daughters on a San Diego trolley ride to celebrate their big day. How delightfully old-fashioned, low-stress, and cost-effective.
I’m not saying helicopter mothering is moms’ fault. Such a widespread, pernicious, self-destructive affliction is far too complex to blame ourselves for. All our high hopes for our offspring, the extreme party planning, flashcard flipping, and sideline cheering, come from a good place – love for our kids. But, due to insidious biological and cultural pressures hitting moms from a surfeit of parenting advice books, hyperbolic television ads, sensational newspaper reportage, Leave It To Beaver reruns, and our mothers-in-law, perhaps we have gone a bit too far in the extreme mothering department.
Now sloppy dads drive me crazy sometimes -` like the morning my own DH insisted it was fine to leave our sleeping one-year-old home alone while he ran a few errands, or the night he sweetly tucked the six-year-old in bed still wearing her fancy party dress, tights, and black patent leather shoes. But laidback dads are today’s parenting pied pipers, the pendulum shift away from helicopter moms. Dads’ parenting philosophies, precisely because they are exempt from many of the nefarious cultural supermom messages that afflict women, are worth emulating.
I’m sure studies will one day show the benefit to kids of this chilled dadittude — perversely higher test scores, increased acceptance rates at RISD and Stanford, reduced lifetime therapy bills. But there is immediate good news in adopting this creative and minimalist parenting style for us frazzled moms too. We can use that extra time and energy to put into our careers and educations, whittling away the gender pay gap and the lack of C-level female executives. Or we could all have a just little more me time for our manicures, ab workouts or – imagine this – daytime naps!
Plus the kids might enjoy childhood more and be scarred by fewer birthday-party tantrums.
Parenthood is amazing, life-changing, and awe-inspiring. But it’s not a competitive sport. It’s rec league. Growing up is highly personalized, and not amenable to awards, trophies, finish lines, or stressed-out perfectionistic moms who are so worried about being judged a sub-par mother that we can’t even enjoy the joy of raising our own beloved children.
Most importantly, parenting is designed, by nature, to be co-ed. So let the dads in. Let’s stop keeping score. We all have a lot to gain by doing so.