For Better or Worse

Gay Guy,

In case you thought that things were always easier over here on the straight side of the fence, here are some excerpted results of a recent survey by Parenting Magazine:
46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more. Those with kids younger than 1 are even more likely to be mad that often (54 percent). About half of the moms describe their anger as intense but passing; 1 in 10 say it's "deep and long-lasting."

Many moms -- 44 percent -- are peeved that dads often don't notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids (it jumps to 54 percent for moms with three-plus children).

40% of moms are mad that Dad can't multitask. And the more kids they have, the madder they are.

31% of moms say their husbands don't help with the chores -- in fact, they generate more.

Ouch.

Many of our wives are working professionals now. More power to them (seriously). They are doing more than ever and facing impossible expectations. Looks like dads haven't picked up enough of the slack. Plus, we can't seem to send our kids outside to play for hours at a time anymore.

Obviously, the data means something. Many men are disappointing their wives on a regular basis. Some guys are outright jerks (see the article for boorish he-men stories, including one dude who rouses his family - including a newborn - when he returns from his night shift before putting himself to bed). Others (like me) are trying, but still coming up short from time to time. But overall, haven't we increased our contribution as parents and homemakers? Maybe we can still do more, too. (OK, forget the "maybe.") But perhaps our wives can continue to adjust their standards so that we meet in the middle more often?

Here's one rage inducing scenario as told by the mom:
"No one's ever gotten hurt, but once I came home and found that my toddler's brand-new -- expensive! -- rug was covered in marker. It was clear he'd left them on their own for a while, with markers. I was furious. I'm still furious."

Notice how she doesn't question for a moment the decision to purchase an expensive rug for a toddler's room -- that's probably on her, I'm guessing. Or mention that a marked rug is still 100% operational for it's intended purpose. She starts out using the proper standard: does her husband keep the children safe when she is not watching? It's the minimum allowable expectation, but the answer seems to be yes. So, chill. Certainly no reason to respond with long-term rage.

Here's another quote:
Many dads wouldn't even think to buy valentines for the class, for example, or know when it's time to sign kids up for the pre–camp physical, or that curriculum night is next Thursday at 7:30 and you need to hire a sitter and bring a nut-free vegetarian appetizer that can be eaten without a fork. Even moms who work full-time take it upon themselves to store all this data in our already overstuffed heads. We're the walking, talking encyclopedias of family life, while dads tend to be more like brochures.

Yes, modern life is complicated, and I often falter in details like these, but I didn't miss the howler in the middle of that paragraph. Nut-free, fork-free, vegetarian appetizers? They're called carrot sticks, lady. Even then, the expectation is too high. Can't someone just bring store-bought cookies or juice boxes?

I've pulled some bone-headed maneuvers in my time, sure. The quality of parenting would plummet if Mrs. Straight Guy wasn't around. But, she's not nearly as angry as the statistics above. And I think (and hope) that she recognizes that I do much more than my dad ever did. Can't some straight guys get props for that?


"Mad at Dad" is the number one link at the Parenting website. The article closes with a call for moms to demand more for themselves. I don't disagree. Fair is fair. But, this article, on what fathers do well, has just dropped off the list. C'mon, just give us a chance. OK, another chance.

--Straight Guy

3 comments:

Straight in Upstate said...

No, no, no...it's not really "Parenting" Magazine. It's "let's all be martyrs and complain how hard our lives are and bash men, because they don't buy these magazines anyway." I have yet to see a parenting magazine written in an unbiased fashion..because men don't buy these mags and yes, most men ARE losers. Do women not know this already? Pick a better man, pick a woman, pick up more D batteries at the store, but let's move on. (I do make lunch, put the boy to bed, give him a bath 45% of the time, keep track of his meds, take him to the pediatrician...and yes, my wife is still justified in wanting to rip my heart out once a week.)

Kathryn said...

I think you've touched a nerve with this topic, SG. Compromising is hard when both people feel they deserve more from the other to "even things out". The bottom line is this: Mom is not going to stop carrying that crap around in her head, even if old Dad steps up...so what are they fighting for? I'll bet that if more men just acted like they wanted to do more...made noise about trying to do more...da gals would be happy. (Happier?) And the ripping out of the heart is a bit strong...maybe just gouging out one eye...

John said...

I have to agree with SinU. I see fathers and men in general bashed all the time to the point where I think it's having a negative impact. I don't even want to go into the screwed up legal system we have that completely undercuts fathers...

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