It’s a popular trope in movies and on TV: A mom has to go away for the weekend and her poor, bumbling husband needs pages of handwritten instructions and prepared freezer meals in order to survive a few days alone with the kids. Luckily, many modern dads are way more involved than the ones depicted in this stereotype, but Jeff Given, a popular dad on TikTok, says he’s noticed recently that too many of his fellow fathers still aren’t stepping up to the plate.
Given is solo parenting for a week while his wife goes on a girls’ trip, and he says the situation got him thinking about some ways that men can “do better.” He decided to make a video calling out dads who don’t solo parent competently and sharing three simple rules they should stick to in order to be better partners when their spouses aren’t around.
“I’ll be alone with my children for a week, and I had a couple thoughts for the guys out there,” Given explains before launching into the following guidelines:
1. Don’t expect a how-to guide
“If your wife has to leave you instructions on things, like, ‘Here’s what you do for pick-up after school,’ or ‘Here’s the night time routine,’ you’re probably not involved enough,” says Given.
2. Learn how to cook
Given doesn’t pull any punches when telling dads to figure out the basics of meal prep. “If you don’t know how to make dinner for your family, like basic stuff,” he says, “grow up.”
3. Leave your partner alone
Last, but definitely not least, Given says when your partner has to be away from home, don’t burden them constant text messages and phone calls about the kids.
“Don’t call her to complain about stuff your kids are going to do, cause guess what? They’re going to whine, they’re going to be annoying, they’re going to do something stupid,” he notes. “Just deal with it yourself. Unless it’s something major, don’t bug her. Let her enjoy her time.”
Moms say capable solo parenting is the bare minimum
Given’s post was met with strong reactions from his followers on TikTok. Moms, in particular, took to his comment section in droves to applaud him for setting a good example of partnership and calling out the partners who fall short.
“Dads aren’t babysitters, they’re a parent, too,” one mom writes. “Thank you for calling them out.”
“We just had a girls’ trip to Nashville,” another mom says. “Seven women for four days. All our kids were left in great hands. Be a great partner. Life will be so much better!”
Others shared some additional rules they think Given should add to his list.
“Number four: Don’t show resentment when she gets home so she feels guilty and never leaves the house again,” one person suggests.
One other mom adds, “And also, don’t leave the house trashed for her when she comes back.”
From one dad to another: “Be the best guy you can”
Ideally, both partners in a relationship should be able to handle the basics of caring for their kids, preparing meals and cleaning up the house. But weaponized incompetence, or one partner using incompetence as a way of getting out of doing their fair share, is a part of many relationships. The result is that women often do an unfair share of child care and household labor. Unfortunately, the expectations don’t always change just because Mom is going away for the weekend or leaving on a business trip.
Given says he made his video because he knows there are partners out there who aren’t doing their fair share, and he got frustrated seeing so many moms on social media venting about how they need help.
“So many guys just kind of cop out of parenting because they think, ‘I make the money, so I don’t have to change diapers, I don’t have to do stuff that sucks,” he says. “I want to urge more guys to be involved and to do better. You’re not Don Draper. You can know what’s going on in your kids’ lives. For those guys who want to opt out … help your wife out. Be the best guy you can.”