Hanging out frequently with a group of dads results in interesting conversations about the language used referring to fatherhood. Quite simply, most of the guys enjoy the respect they receive for being an involved father. It’s not their motivation behind daddying – they really embrace the quality and valuable time spent with their children. That said, they are not always pleased with the language that surrounds fatherhood.
The language debate: the overused term “Mr. Mom” or “Daddy Daycare”, referring to a dad who is the primary caregiver for their child is frequently used because many people don’t know what the proper term to use is. At least, that is the answer I get when I ask these people why they use those terms rather than “modern man” or “involved dad” or “at-home-dad.” I don’t get angry or blame most of these people because they are spewing terms over-utilized by the media. Sometimes it is not even the language used, it is “the look” or expression of shock and awe as six dads enter together into a crowded playground.
Another ‘language’ topic of discussion: Walking by most children’s venues, you will observe flyers advertising their “mommy & me” classes often ignoring the word dad or term “parent & me.” Again, not laying complete blame for many of these venues because the majority of people who participate in their classes are moms or female nannies. If more venues started supporting dads in the language that they use, most likely, they will see an increase in fathers feeling more welcome and participating. This slow shift is starting to occur and will take many years to become more balanced.
About a year ago there was an article published on Lisa Belkin’s Motherlode Blog, that speaks very well to this topic about changing the language of fatherhood – it was a guest post aptly named Daddy & Me by Paul Hankes Drielsma.
This riddle was used at the conclusion of the article:
A child walks into an ice cream shop with one of her parents. After handing the girl her ice cream cone, the person behind the counter turns to the parent with a smile and asks, “Babysitting today?”
Which parent is with the girl?
Some people get very upset with the “misused” terms regarding fatherhood. Others don’t care what people say. Where do you stand? Do you get irked when referred to as “Mr. Mom” or it’s assumed that you are just “babysitting today?” Have you noticed a positive change in the language used towards fatherhood?