June 27, 2018

Should Dads Get Graded on a Curve?

While we grade our husbands’ household contributions against our own, the world grades them against Don Draper— which means any guy with a Baby Bjorn gets a ticker tape parade. But guest Kevin Madsen of HeyDad says that’s not as good as it sounds.

A dad in Bermuda recently joined his young daughter on stage at her ballet recital when she was too frightened to perform. He was carrying another one of their children at the time. Video of that moment went viral, the dad got his own hashtag, and the world stopped to honor his awesomeness.

Here’s our question: would a mother doing the same thing have gotten any attention at all?

There’s no question that dads get graded on a curve in our society. Times are changing— fathers are now the primary caregiver for about one out of every four preschool-age children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau— but stereotypes die hard. And while we as mothers may grade our husbands’ household contributions against our own, the larger world grades them against the Don Draper-style fathers of yore— which means that any guy wearing a Baby Bjorn gets a ticker tape parade.

In this episode we give that notion several eye rolls. Kevin Madsen of the Hey Dad podcast is our guest, and he says dads don’t necessarily love the curved grading either. While the extra credit is kind of nice sometimes, Kevin says he’s tired of being sold short by people assuming he can’t possibly know how to take care of his own children as well as his wife can.

So let’s stop grading the dads in our lives on a curve. Hell, let’s stop grading them at all. And here’s a tip for dads: stop telling your wives you do more than your own dads did. We know. And it’s a start.

Here’s links to some research discussed in this episode:

Paul Scott for Parents: The Responsibilities and Expectations of the New American Dad

Eugene Volokh for the Washington Post: In Praise of Grading on a Curve

and this viral post by Facebook employee Tom Stocky , on the “ridiculous praise” he got for changing a diaper or buying groceries with his daughter while on parental leave.

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