Mom wants to know if it’s normal for husband to never take care of their baby

Feb. 21, 2020
Mom wants to know if it’s normal for husband to never take care of their baby

If you’ve ever seen an episode of “I Love Lucy” or “Leave It to Beaver,” you know that parenting used to look differently back in the 1950s. For the most part, moms raised the kids, and dads popped in after work or whenever the kid wanted to go outside and throw a baseball around. These days, most people understand that parenting is a job for moms and dads, which is why a lot of people are stunned by a recent Reddit post in which a mom admits her husband doesn’t think he should have to care for his own son at all, and she’s OK with it.

The mom writes that she and her husband have a 2-year-old son and are planning to try for baby No. 2 soon, but her husband “isn’t super into the baby stage and prefers not to take on the bulk of the hands-on parenting yet.” As a result, the mom is responsible for most of the child care, and her husband sees no reason to increase his share of the load.

“I took the full three months of maternity leave, so by the time I was back to work full time, I already had a great routine down with the baby, and my husband pointed out that it was much more logical for me to handle the things I was already good at,” she writes. “I’ve always been as encouraging with him as possible to take on more childcare, but … he insists that it’s best for our son to have ‘an expert’ handling things instead of someone who ‘is still learning and therefore obviously won’t be as good.’”

Since the mom works full-time, she relies on her own mom and a nanny for child care during the day. When she has to leave town for a business trip, she asks her sister to watch her son overnight so her husband won’t have to care for him, but her sister is fed up with this arrangement.

“My sister says I’m ‘mistreating’ my son by ‘denying him time with his dad’ because I’m ‘enabling’ my husband to be ‘an abjectly sh*tty father,’” she writes. “My sister keeps saying ‘well how do you KNOW he’ll actually make an effort in a few years?’ and ‘why would you give him another baby to ignore,’ which is really messing with my head.” 

The mom is shocked by her sister’s criticism, and she wants to know what the Reddit community thinks about her “traditional parenting dynamic.” So far, over 450 comments have piled up telling the mom that her sister is 100% correct.

“You don’t get to decide when a good time is to conveniently be a parent when there’s a kid physically in front of you,” one person writes. “If you wanted that decision you shouldn’t have made the baby. Dude needs to man up and be a dad.”

Some are pointing out that a 2-year-old is not the same thing as a baby, and the dad’s excuses seem manipulative. 

One person asks, “What’s dad waiting for, being able to golf together?”

Others are arguing that women don’t have the luxury of checking out on child care, so how is it fair for dads to get a choice? 

“I’m a woman who isn’t into the baby part — I much, much prefer toddlers,” one user writes. “Guess how many people bent reality around me and donated their own labor so that I didn’t have to parent my newborn? Oh, that’s right, NONE because it’s MY baby, and as a lady, it never even crossed anyone’s mind that I wouldn’t do all of the caregiving for my own child.”

That’s what makes this post so frustrating: the idea that one parent can simply choose not to participate in parenting. You’d likely have a hard time finding any parent who truly enjoys waking up five times a night, changing explosive poopy diapers, washing dozens of spit-up-stained onesies and needing to pack a 20-pound diaper bag of supplies just to go to Target. But parents do it because that’s what it means to have a child, and someone has to step up and take responsibility for that child’s needs.

Luckily, most dads do not share this husband’s negative attitude about fatherhood. In fact, modern dads are working hard to redefine what it means to be an involved father. According to a Pew Research study, about 7% of dads were stay-at-home parents in 2016 versus only 4% in 1989. Dads also spent an average of eight hours a week on child care in 2016, which is triple the time dads spent caring for their kids in 1965.

There are some parts of parenting, like breastfeeding, that dads simply cannot do, but refusing to do anything at all is just selfish. Sharing the work of raising kids gives children the opportunity to bond with both parents and see partnership in action. Every family gets to decide what child care arrangement works for them, but skipping parenting entirely shouldn’t be an option for anyone.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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