It seems like there’s this big trend in thinking lately that we don’t need to applaud dads for being… well, dads. And I totally get it. Why would you applaud a person for doing what’s expected of them? Why would you give someone a pat on the back for doing what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place? It’s kind of like handing out trophies for participation. “Congratulations! You showed up!” I think we can all agree that the participation trophy is complete horse manure. No kid should be rewarded for showing up.
Like I said, I get it.
But there’s a really big point I think we’re missing here: Dad doesn’t have to be Dad. When you see a man doing the duties of a parent, he is doing something that’s not always expected. The dad who “just shows up;” the dad who participates? He does deserve a trophy.
Maybe my experience as a mother has made me hyperaware of the fact that men sometimes deserve a little recognition for the things a lot of people may consider to be inconsequential. There was a man in my son and I’s life who did just the bare minimum: he created a child. That’s the bare minimum, y’all. That guy doesn’t deserve a high five. He doesn’t deserve a pat on the back. He doesn’t deserve your applause. Hanging out with a kid; changing his diaper; helping feed, clothe, and bathe him? Those things are over and beyond the minimum requirements when it comes to being a dad. Those things do deserve applause. Those are the things my husband and all the other real dads out there are doing that you’re implying they don’t deserve praise for. Take it from me when I say they do deserve the praise, and they do deserve the applause.
The unfortunate reality is that when you’re applauding a dad for being a parent, you actually are applauding him for doing much more than the minimum. You’re applauding a man who has made the choice to be a role model for his child. Your applause is for a man who chose to remain a part of a child’s life beyond the point of conception—a choice a lot of men don’t make.
When you pat my husband on the back for being Dad, you’re reinforcing that he made the right decision in taking on fatherhood. You’re putting a smile on his face while he’s doing something that a lot of people think isn’t a big deal, but it is a big deal. Every person in our children’s lives made the decision to be there. That includes Dad, regardless of whether he was there from conception or he joined the team later.
I’ll continue to applaud those men I see playing with their kids. The guy feeding his baby from a bottle or a jar of baby food? Good job, dude! Keep up the good work! And while we’re at it, that mom barely making it through the grocery store with her tantrum-throwing children deserves a high-five, too.
A Change In Perspective
So while you’re on your high horse preaching about how we should expect more of dads than the minimum amount of participation required to “just be a dad,” I understand where you’re coming from. But perhaps it’s time we adjust our perception of what “just being dad” means, and remember what the minimum requirements actually are.
I’ll continue to applaud those men I see playing with their kids. The guy feeding his baby from a bottle or a jar of baby food? Good job, dude! Keep up the good work! And while we’re at it, that mom barely making it through the grocery store with her tantrum-throwing children deserves a high-five, too. I can hear it now: “But that’s not fair! Dads shouldn’t be congratulated for doing something that moms do every single day.” You’re right. You’re absolutely right. It’s not fair! We actually all deserve a huge pat on the back for parenting. Because you know what? We’re all doing more than the “bare minimum.”
We all deserve a participation trophy for this one.
Take a moment to pat a dad (or mom!) on the back today. They deserve it!
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Originally from Austin, Texas, Lindsay is a transplant to Memphis, TN, and is the owner and founder of Memphis Moms Blog. She has one firecracker of a son, Grady, who was born in November 2011. Lindsay was a standalone parent to Grady until she met her heart’s other half (and now husband), Danny, in March 2014. In April of 2016 Lindsay and Danny had a huge party… oh, and got hitched! When it comes to free time (what’s that?!), Lindsay enjoys spending it outside with her mutts and family, enjoying a smooth glass of Malbec or whiskey, or writing about the awkward and wacky adventures of motherhood.