How much should a man do?

Household and parenting roles have changed drastically in just a few generations.

“Stay-at-home dad” and “working mother” are more common than ever. But nevertheless, there seems to be a great quandary over who does what and how much should they do?

Being a man, I don’t even want to presume to know anything about the female experience, so I’ll stay far away. But husbands and dads are in a constant flux over what and how much. In the past year, I’ve read dozens of blogs and articles (mostly female writers) talking about the fatherhood experience. One particularly troubling article was “My husband, the perfect mom” that was published on CNN.com in early January (it has since been taken down). The article detailed the jealousy of a mother over her husband’s relationship with their children. Not know the writer’s specific intentions, the article came across that Dad was simply doing too much.

Other articles have been opposite, saying that Dad isn’t doing enough to help in parenting and household obligations. Frankly, what’s a dad to do?

One thing is for sure, no matter what the expectations are outside the home, the demands inside the home haven’t changed. Children still need parenting. Food must still be prepared. Chores must still be done. Logically, if there is now an expectation for women to hold jobs outside the home, so it is the expectation that men do more inside the home. My wife shouldn’t be expected to work an 8 hour shift, and then come and handle all the household obligations.

Parenting, though, is still different. Household chores don’t provide emotional attachment. When I put away dishes, it’s not because I love the dishes, it’s simply that the dishes have to be put away. I helped dirty them, I can help put them away.

Being a dad, my commitment to my son is–quite plainly–biological. There’s a human connection there that whatever he needs, I’ll do. Not because it’s an obligation (though it certainly is), but because I’m his parent and I love him.

So when a dad is criticized for helping too much in something so purely wired, so evolutionary, it hurts. Dads shouldn’t be encouraged to do more, it’s hopefully already there. But we certainly shouldn’t be encouraged to do less.

But the ball is in our court. The expectation of fathers should be to go above and beyond was has been ‘traditionally required’ of us. A dad doing simply what he is wired to do shouldn’t be so much an outlier than an article is required of it, it should just be the norm.

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