A Man and His Baby

An unnamed poster had this to say on the parentingideas.org blog:

Somehow some basic human instinct suggests that ‘man’ is neither capable nor fit to look after a baby! This instinct immediately raises the hairs on the backs of people’s necks, images of disaster loom in their minds and unseen forces push them forwards to offer help. They do not see a happy and carefree father pushing his laughing baby along in the pram, they see a harried father who is at his wits end and who is desperate for help. They see a tormented and unwilling baby, screaming and kicking in desperation, a father who is pulling his hair out and desperately looking around for somebody to just show him what to do.

He goes on to relate his experience at the grocery store and the department store.  The general message is that people assume he doesn’t know what he’s doing, step in without any knowledge of what his baby really wants, and make things worse.

I’m happy to say that I haven’t experienced much of what this guy refers to.  Perhaps it’s a cultural thing; he’s in the UK, where I believe stereotypes and class are much more influential than out here in hippy-dippy Seattle.  In fact, my experiences are generally the opposite.  When Ruby was about a month old I had one woman at the deli ask if I was “filling in for Mom today”, and that’s about all I can recall.

In fact, I think I’ve received the most friction from the people who are closest to me (not Kate, but others among my family and friends who will go unnamed).  They make little jokes and asides about how something I’ve done has made the baby cry, or I’m not playing with her in the right way, or there’s some developmental milestone that she hasn’t reached yet and I’m clearly not pushing her hard enough towards it.  The comments aren’t severe or malicious and so don’t warrant a direct response, but taken together they do lead me to fume in private.  And I have a suspicion that I get more of these comments — especially the first two kinds — because I’m a man.

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