Virtual high fives are being thrown throughout the internet over Ryan Reynolds comments in a recent interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers". He was asked “What advice would you give to Dad’s post birth”, Ryan’s response; “Do the dirty work. A human being will exit your wife, so she’s done enough. Just change the diaper”. I’ll admit when I first saw this meme pop up in my news feed, I smiled, nodded, might have even muttered a little ‘hell yeah’. I hit the share button & as I started to tap my thoughts into a status I realised that my feelings were quickly evolving & so I changed my mind about sharing & opened up my word processor...
So it’s not that this isn’t sage advice because absolutely, change the dirty diapers, do the dirty work that’s awesome! But what I’m struggling with is this demarcation within parenting roles, very often perceived but still very much part of our vernacular. Another example is when Dad’s are considered to be babysitting their children. Hmmmm no, they are caring for their child, on their own, this is not babysitting, this is parenting! Just as it is when Mum has the kids on her own.
This is not necessarily something that Dad’s are bringing upon themselves. I’m surrounded by amazing parents day in day out who are absolutely smashing this parenting gig as a team. There might some very specific roles that each parent takes on, breastfeeding & settling are some big commonalities, but there’s no point scoring going on. There’s no antiquated ideologies that Mum does all the rearing while Dad goings hunting & gathering, then comes home & changes a pooey nappy & ‘Woo Hoo I’m a hero’! That’s just not happening in the world that I’m living in.
So is Ryan’s advice to new Dads relevant? I guess, it’s OK to remind them that there’s some ‘shitty’ work coming up & the birthing mother was just a total goddess but what about saying; “hey man, this parenting gig is hard work, there’s lots of big changes going on here, be kind to yourself because it’s going to be an awesome ride.” Or even; “Dude, your relationship is going to change big time, but you guys just created LIFE, so ride out the waves & know that you have never known a love this big & it’s going to be an awesome ride.” Or just; “You’re probably going to make mistakes, lots of them, you both will. Changing a nappy won’t be one of them, but just know that you’re doing an awesome job even when you don’t think you are & it’s going to be an awesome ride”.