It’s amazing that you can talk to other dads from anywhere in the world and they all have one thing in common. They are all sick of the same old nonsense that people say to them on a daily basis. Usually these comments are not meant with any ill will, but they undermine the role of a dad and we really should all be in this together, right?
It’s those little remarks, possibly just an attempt to make lighthearted smalltalk, that feed society’s ongoing attitude that dads are lesser parents. It may seem trivial, but whilst dads still struggle to be taken seriously by healthcare, educational establishments and other sectors, these underlying digs have consequences.
Here are some examples of things you should never say to a dad.
What you should never say to a dad
1) “You’ve got your hands full!”
Obviously there are times when saying “you’ve got your hands full” to a dad is perfectly acceptable. For instance, if he literally has his hands full, that would be an appropriate time. Of course, it would be an odd thing to say as it would already be fairly obvious he had his hands full, but some people fear silence and have to fill it with something.
When it is an issue is when a dad is out with his kids. Being a parent. And the culprit remarks on how much responsibility that is, as if the dad doesn’t know or cannot handle it. Would they say that to a mum? It’s unlikely. Here’s the newsflash: dads can quite happily look after their kids.
2) “Are you giving mummy a break?”
Leading on from “you’ve got your hands full” comes “are you giving mum a break?” Once again, this relies heavily on the idea that mums are the 24/7 parents (aside from these special break times) and dads just swoop in as seasonal temp staff.
As if the only thing that compels us to spend time with our children is some kind of EU parenting directive that means mums must retire to their fainting couches for 15 minutes every seven hours, at which point dads are required to stop chopping logs and wrestling bears so they can push the kids on the swings for a bit.
We are not giving mummy a break, we are hanging out with our kids. And being parents.
3) “Can’t you get up in the night with them?”
Having a baby is a tough time. Whoever suggested the phrase “slept like a baby” should refer to a good night’s sleep is an idiot. Parents are shattered at this early stage and it’s all hands to the pump to survive. And yet, there are still many people who will assume that it is just the mum who has been getting up to change the little darling and settle them back down.
How many times has someone suggested you get up to give mum a rest (see above)? The idea that you might not have even considered it is ridiculous, particularly considering the eyebags that all. new parents develop as standard.
4) “Use one of the mother and child parking bays”
Language matters. It does. The Piers Morgans of this world might think that only snowflakes care about discriminatory terminology, but the words we use really do influence the way we think.
Morgan worked himself up into a self-righteous froth over the use of ‘firefighter’ rather than ‘fireman’, even though the former is more accurate. However, by continuing with the male-specific ‘fireman’ we are subtly asserting that it is a job only for men and that is simply not the case.
In the same way, using terms like ‘mother and child parking bay’ or ‘mother and toddler group’ suggests that mums spend time with their children and dads don’t. Presumably because they are too busy chopping logs and wrestling bears to pop to Sainsbury’s.
5) Are you babysitting?
And let’s finish with the classic. “Are you babysitting today?”
NO, I AM NOT BABYSITTING, I AM SPENDING TIME WITH MY CHILDREN.
What things do people say to you that really wind you up? Add them in the Comments.