I wasn’t actually going to waste anymore of my time on this much-debated issue brought about by Discovering Dad, because it is, really, beating a dead horse. Neither he nor I are going to agree, nor is he even willing at this point to see where or why he might have struck a chord with me or any other person with tits. He wants to talk down to me and be condescending? great. His wife wants to step up and defend him and basically tell those of us who had the balls to disagree that we are pussies? No problem; I can deal. But let me clarify a little bit about why I-and a whole lot of other people I know-feel the way I do.
Whether you people with testicles want to admit it, we still live in a YOUR world, and our choices, thoughts, feelings are based on the fact that we still get fucked because we have a vagina. I get so fucking sick of hearing men talk about all the great things they are doing for their kids and their families-because they want some kind of medal for doing what they should have been doing all along. That fucking sucks. I think it is a really great thing, and one of THE most important things a man can do for his children-whether married to their mother or not, dads need to do the awesome things that men like Discovering Dad, BusyDad, and lots of men I know in my real life are doing for their kids. Because you ARE; I have never disputed that, and won’t. Just don’t expect me to do a happy lap dance for you because you are doing what you signed up for. I mean, if you want to get all technical about it, the fact that you poor men have gone under appreciated and unacknowledged for all of these years is your own fault-after all, isn’t that how you wanted it? For we women to stay home and cook your dinner and take care of your kids and put out whenever you want it, all while you get to go out and make the money? And then one day, you all woke up and realized that you wanted better for your kids, for your wives, for your selves, and you finally stepped up to the plate-better for everyone, obviously. However, one of the biggest problems that remain is this mindset that you are entitled to special recognition and special treatment for, again, doing what you signed up for. THAT is what I don’t understand.
To clarify another thing: there is a difference between mutual love, respect and a willingness/desire to do things for your partner because you want them to be happy and the reward system. Like my good buddy XBox4NappyRashsaid, “I don’t take an extra breath mint to reward her for bringing me a cup of tea, and she doesn’t offer sexual favours when I bring in the mail.” We do-or should do-things for our partners because we want to, not because of what we think we might get out of it. Nor should we as women have to coerce, manipulate, bribe, or cajole our men. For any reason. In my opinion, whoring myself out-allowing you to do it, either-is wrong, and when I feel like I have to do X, Y, or Z in order to convince you that you WANT to do that which you SHOULD do, well, you’re my pimp, baby, and if I am going to allow myself to be victimized that way, I should be making a fuck of a lot more money than I am. And that really has nothing to do with sex, but the whole mindset.
I agree that when both partners are doing things out of a desire to make the other person happy, everybody benefits. When Owen’s dad says, “Let me take Owen for a couple of hours so you can go bowling,” that makes me happy-which in turn makes me much more willing to be generous when he says, “I can’t take Owen tonight because I am going to see a movie with my sister.” Last night when Owen dumped the entire box of matches in the back of the truck and screamed when Steve told him to pick them up, Steve acknowledged to me-as the primary caregiver (in addition to having three other kids and a full time job and no husband)-that it is hard work having a two year old, and I didn’t feel the need to say, “No shit, you fucking dick, why do you think I am such a bitch all of the time?” Instead, because he acknowledged that the work I do is both important AND difficult, I gladly helped him and Owen pick up the matches. And I really think-and could be wrong-that this is what Discovering Dad was trying to get at-that when both partners are willing to do things out of a desire to have things run smoothly, it works. What I totally disagree with is the added responsibility we women are being given by saying that we should be taking on the additional role of cheerleader and Chief Motivator. I have enough responsibilities as it is without taking on another one, and I don’t see it in any way my job to make sure you do yours.
And no, I don’t agree with the reward system, EVER. Not after the toddler years are over, anyway. And this is probably arguing semantics, but I don’t see praise as a reward. I don’t have a single problem with giving praise when it is deserved-but by the same token, doing your chores at home? Doing your homework? Sorry, you don’t get praised for doing that which is expected and part of being a team. Now, if one of the kids goes above and beyond what is expected, then they absolutely get a pat on the back-but they are never “rewarded.” I don’t bribe my kids, nor do I offer them something-monetarily, physically, emotionally, in exchange for doing their jobs, so to speak. I offer love and respect freely to my children, we spend huge amounts of time together as a family, we are big on hugging and kissing and telling each other how much we love each other. Is that a reward? No, I think that is normal and healthy. I believe in doing the right thing because it IS the right thing. I believe in actions and consequences. I don’t reward good behavior because I EXPECT good behavior. I don’t reward passing grades because school=job for my kids. I don’t give the baby a cookie for not throwing a tanrum or for peeing in the potty (which, okay, is NEVER going to happen, he will be the first of my children to go to college wearing a diaper). If he does something wrong, there are consequences. That is the way things work best at our house-that doesn’t mean that is how things have to be at yours.
It is so easy to cloud the issue with perceptions and ideas, and it is not wrong or abnormal to use our own life experiences as a springing off place. I have never made a secret of the fact that I have had some really shitty men in my life, so of course I am going to use that to draw upon. But I am also adult and self-aware enough to know that this kind of attitude-that I should be the one to motivate my partner-would never work for me. that doesn’t mean it is wrong for YOU, as men and fathers and partners, nor for your spouses. I really and truly believe that the bottom line is that you talk about what works for you, and if someone else gets something useful out of it, the more power to you. More importantly, more power to ALL of us. No matter what tools we use, whatever it takes to make our families stronger and happier is a good and powerful thing. I don’t have to agree with you, and vice versa-but it doesn’t mean that you OR me are bad people. I liked the debate-I LOVE a good debate-and also believe that if we are all talking about it-even if we disagree-then only good can come of it. Do I disagree with the attitude? You bet your ass I do. But do I disagree with what you are trying to do? Never, not in a million years. Kids need both their parents-and as long as each pair (be it lovers, spouses, co-parents but not “together,” gay or straight, whatever form that takes for each of us) is committed to raising healthy, happy kids who are getting what they need from both parties, then we are all doing the right thing. It just doesn’t have to be the same for all of us.