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Frustrations of a New Dad.

 
 
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:15 pm
[ Baby Brown was born on Sunday! Mom and Baby are doing fine and she is the most beautiful thing that has ever existed.

But I need to vent a little.]

I always believed that that Dads were Parents.

In this time of enlightened equality Dads don't get very much respect. This week the following things happened that just left me feeling frustrated.

1. Our first pediatrician appointment was today. The doctor comes in, greets mom, greets baby, and then starts asking mom questions as if I weren't in the room. I rather felt like a chaperone.

This is the baby's doctor and the two parents who work as a team to raise baby should both be addressed equally.

2. A Nurse in the hospital talked to my wife about a medical decision for the baby. I walked in during the middle of the conversation and started to ask questions about a particular concern my wife and I had discussed earlier. The nurse turned to me and said brusquely "this is your wifes decision".

I nearly snapped. My wife and I are perfectly able to make decisions together about things that concern us. The assumption that I was somehow undermining my wife was completely out of place.

3. The presumption that men are lazy jerks is really frustrating.

This annoying midwife pulled me aside to tell me that as my wife is recovering I need to make sure I "help with the houswork". There are two problems with this. First it makes the unwarranted assumption that there is a problem. Second it makes the insulting conclusion that I am an insensitive lout.

Listen everyone. When my wife cleans the kitchen, she is doing housework. Why the heck why I clean the same kitchen am I helping with housework? My wife and I have an equal partnership. Normally, we both do the housework.

Of course this week I have done nearly all of the housework. My wife is recovering from labor. Who wouldn't do this? Still, I keep hearing how nice it is that I am "helping with housework". How patronizing. If I hear this again I might just scream.

4. Evil (older) sister-in-law actually scolds me saying "you act like you are the babies mother". After I requested the extended family leave so I could have some time with my wife and our child.

She continually points out that my wife needs bonding time with the baby. The thought, of course, is that since fathers are not parents they don't need bonding time. (The real issue is that she wants her and her offspring to have bonding time.)

5. Other family member praises me that I actually change the babies diaper. How incredible that a parent would do this for their baby!!!

------
This is the thing. I am a parent. I love my baby. I work for the family. I do housework. I am bonding and nurturing and caring for my children.

In nearly every other sector of our society we are saying that gender shouldn't matter. Yet, the stereotype of males as irresponsible, and unable to nurture is one stereotype that continues unchallenged. I don't think I am the only example of a responsible male who works in an equal partnership with his mate.

Why do dads continue to get so little respect?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,355 • Replies: 29
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:20 pm
Go ebrown!

Congratulations on baby brown!!

We've been talking about parenting issues a lot lately, and one thing I think is the closest to a panacea we're gonna get is to encourage dads to be involved in childrearing. One of the best parents I know is a stay-at-home dad, he's talked about this stuff, I sympathize. It sucks.

Know that a lot of us think that you doing everything you can to be involved is a great thing. Stick with it, despite the idiots. (And feel free to vent.)
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:21 pm
First of all, congratulations! This is gret news!

I'm sorry you're feeling so frustrated. I think that in most cases the dad really doesn't know what to do to help and that nurses and docs tend to assume that (of course they'll be wrong sometimes). I also think (and don't get mad at me too) that in the first week or two, the biggest thing that has to happen is breast feeding the baby and that isn't something you can do, no matter how good your intentions are.

Stereotypes are here all over the place.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:22 pm
Ebrown, I agree with your sense of affront on all counts, except a bit of room re the woman's choice as to certain things related to her body, but this whole list didn't seem to be about that so much as a kind of dismissal to you, and I get your point. I'd be angry too. (For anywho don't know by my a2k name, I'm a woman).

I hope this stuff doesn't keep up, or if it does, that you two can talk it all out between you.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:26 pm
I think it is tremendously important that he holds the baby and bonds and learns to change and learns the cries and the gulps and grasps the waving hand, touches little fingers.

women shutting this out, except for great malfeasance, are shutting off channels of love from the father and from the child.

Not that EB's wife is.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:29 pm
I totally agree, Osso. My sister shut out all others with her first child. The only thing we were allowed to do for months was change diapers.
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eoe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Feb, 2005 10:42 pm
Hang in there ebrown!!!!! I/we can only imagine how shitty it is right now but this is your baby and forgive all others who don't undersatnd or appreciate it. It's a fact and nothing will change that.
Again I say, hang in there. Your day will come. When children get older and less needy of the essentials that only mother can give, nothing beats daddy and that's just it.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 08:11 am
Wow EB!
I never heard things like this from a mans point of view.
i know you are venting but thank you! You really helped me in seeing alot of things that happen to men when a child is born.
Congratulations on becoming a Pappa! It will be the most wonderful experience ! It will also be the hardest experience. No sleep, stress, unwanted family members, crying baby ( at 2 am for 4 hours) etc..

I so agree that there shouldnt be a GOOD JOB FOR HELPING statement made when you are DOING things that should be done and things that you do ALL the time. Maybe, you can start addressing this as it is said? Nip that crap in the bud now so that it doesnt fester later.
I think that you are exactly right in your statements about people percieving men as -useless- when it comes to a baby. Where this idea came from .. well.. if anyone knew , then we could address it and get rid of it.
It is obvious that you are very level headed about this situation and that you know your grounds and your limitations. Since we cant change society, we can change our family,our lives, and our situations.
So maybe you can start there.
Next time someone says " Wow, you did a great job helping with the housework" .. respond with something like " Yeah, imagine that, a man who cares about his wife and his home.. hmmm"
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 08:18 am
Hang in there e_b! I could have written a very similar post 20 years ago when mine was born. This may be 2005 but when it comes to parenting people still have lots of very 1950s ideas.

Congrats on the birth of baby_b!
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 08:47 am
Congratulations, eBrown. Odd that. I thought that dads were encouraged to be in on things. I would have loved it, myself.

(where's my cigar?)
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 10:43 am
shewolfnm wrote:
Wow EB!
I never heard things like this from a mans point of view.
i know you are venting but thank you! You really helped me in seeing alot of things that happen to men when a child is born.
Congratulations on becoming a Pappa! It will be the most wonderful experience ! It will also be the hardest experience. No sleep, stress, unwanted family members, crying baby ( at 2 am for 4 hours) etc..

I so agree that there shouldnt be a GOOD JOB FOR HELPING statement made when you are DOING things that should be done and things that you do ALL the time. Maybe, you can start addressing this as it is said? Nip that crap in the bud now so that it doesnt fester later.
I think that you are exactly right in your statements about people percieving men as -useless- when it comes to a baby. Where this idea came from .. well.. if anyone knew , then we could address it and get rid of it.
It is obvious that you are very level headed about this situation and that you know your grounds and your limitations. Since we cant change society, we can change our family,our lives, and our situations.
So maybe you can start there.
Next time someone says " Wow, you did a great job helping with the housework" .. respond with something like " Yeah, imagine that, a man who cares about his wife and his home.. hmmm"


She said it all!

Congrats on your new baby e_brown. Be involved and stay involved. You're not unique, even though you're perceived as such. You don't have to suffer in silence but if you chose to, venting here gives us all some great insight.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 11:06 am
Congrats on the baby, e_brown. What a lucky baby she is to have two very capable and devoted parents. I totally get where you're coming from. If it makes you feel any better, nurses and doctors are condescending to new mothers themselves a lot too. Good for you for piping up and standing your ground. I totally agree with everything you said. As Noddy would say, hold your dominion.

I have a similar complaint about my mother. She practically worships my husband and is always telling me how lucky I am the my husband "helps". I always say it's not helping, because it's not my sole responsibility. She's always lamenting how hard he works and how it must be so hard for him to have to get the kids ready for daycare in the morning. (I go to work earlier, so he gets the mornings and I get the evenings.) The thing is, it's his job. He's their father. She acts like I expect too much from him or he's going over and above. It's total bullshit and it pisses me off. For the record, he's happy to do it and he enjoys that time with the kids in the morning when it's just him and them. She sees him as some sort of martyr and me as a bad wife for making him share "my duties".

So, it is definitely tiime for folks to start examining their preconceptions about men as parents. Go e_brown! Blaze that trail!
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Lady J
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 11:18 am
A new baby!! A new baby!!! Smile Congratulations to you, Dad!!

You have made some very interesting and thought provoking points that I agree with completely. You are one fabulous husband and one fabulous dad for taking the family medical leave to have your own time to bond with your child.

Forget all the crap that everyone else is saying and do it YOUR and your wife's way. Nip the rude or cynical statements made by others in the bud if you can as shewolf mentioned. It's actually very aggravating to mothers too when they have a new baby...it seems like "good advice" comes from everywhere and I think if we, as parents, listen to a bit of it, we are equally feeling lacking or inadequate in some ways.

My former husband was very much like you and spent a great deal of time with both of our children when they were born, just holding, snuggling, kissing and many times feeding as I purposely pumped breast milk into bottles so he could have some of that same bonding time when feeding too. The middle of the night feedings were the best. He would get up and get the baby, change their diaper, spend some time with them before he brought them to me for nursing. and then he would be the one to tuck them back into bed when the baby was full. He wasn't just "helping"! He was being an integral part of bonding..

Vent all you like here! Unfortunately, I agree that we can't change the stereotypes that have built up over the years overnight, but with more and more dads like you, maybe one day it will be the norm to society to see each parent as equal.

My best to you and the new baby and to the Mrs. May your life be forever filled with the joy that children bring to us all. Smile
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 07:59 pm
Thanks to all for the support, kind words and for the chance to vent.

Things are going great overall and we are enjoying our new baby. I am not sure if I am ever going to get along too well with certain in-laws, but I am drawing lines that seem to be working out.

With that out off my chest, I am going back to focusing on the good things...
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JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 09:38 pm
yeah!
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 19 Feb, 2005 09:47 pm
Yippee!
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PDiddie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2005 09:22 am
Ah, so that's why you've been scarce around here.

Not being a parent, I really had no idea about the gender discrimination dads get. I found your rant illuminating, to say the least.

We'll look forward to some shewolfnm-like ravings about your baby as she, you know, discovers her hands, gets Dadaist with the strained peas and so on... :wink:

Just kidding you (both). Congratulations on the birth of your child.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2005 09:24 am
By the way, this is a prime time for not getting along with in-laws. I actually like my in-laws, but the week that my M-I-L stayed with us when the sozlet first arrived.... Evil or Very Mad
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2005 10:06 am
From the sounds of this thread, I am very lucky to have an in-law who not only respects , but enforces the parent/grandparent boundry. She never questions my decisions and trusts my judgement completely and honestly. She rarely gives advice unless it is solicited from her or something she truly feels passionate about. Like bean's diet. When i decided I didnt want her to eat food from cans, pre packaged baby foods etc.. She stepped in and let me borrow TONS of books about vitamins, nutrition, food prep etc... Wonderful assistance!

I have read a book about , and titled , Toxic In-laws. Fabulous! Wonderful read.. And in your welcome to the parenting circle E-Brown.. I am recommending a book. Laughing
http://216.193.207.28/dcforum/DCForumID14/34.html
this is a website that has a forum for people to vent and get advice about toxic inlaws based on the concept written by the author of the book.

I know you hardly have time to shower each day with a new baby in the house, but when you do have time, this site may help you . If anything, it gives you a place to vent where people are going through the same thing.
BIG congratulations on being a Pappa.
Life takes on a new meaning from today on. Enjoy it!
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Feb, 2005 11:40 am
Congratulations on the arrival of wee ebrown_p!

Thank you for your wonderful and though provoking rant!

Since reading it, I've really been thinking about how fathers are excluded from so much.

And I'm thinking about how the parenting category here is really populated by women. There are a few notable exceptions -- nimh (who I don't think even has kids), Drewdad (who raves about Ya Ya's every little giggle and might be a good person for you to seek out), and Husker and fishin' who add some needed insight into the "been there, done that" aspect of daddyhood.

And I'm thinking about when Mr. B and I get together with friends and the guys say "Hey, how's work going?" and the girls say "Hey, how are the kids?"

Even the at-home dad I know doesn't join in parenting conversations....

But I know that the guys talk about kids when the girls are not around because Mr. B will talk about conversations and problems and successes that the kids have enjoyed or endured.

Very interesting.

Best of luck to you and yours! That's lucky baby and I hope you start a real trend.
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