When Russell Brand opened up about his parenting style – and it was very, shall we say … on brand.
“Not so good on the nappies”
“I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace. Not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food,” he told the UK’s Sunday Times of his two children, Mabel, two, and Peggy, six months.
He said he’s never looked after the kids alone for more than a night (when they’re already asleep). “She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura. She respects and cares for their safety too much.”
He then went on to admit that his partner, Laura Gallacher did all of the practical parenting. “Laura does all of it. It turns out that she is extremely well versed in the nuances and complexities of child-rearing.”
“Laura’s able to sustain and maintain domesticity in a way that’s astonishing. I didn’t have much experience of how to organise domesticity.”
Is it a surprise that Brand was laughed at and called a sexist for being ridiculous? No. But here’s the thing: his parenting views aren’t unique.
I’d say they’re really common amongst dads.
Before we go any further, I know this doesn’t apply to all dads. My husband, along with many dads I know, don’t hold these views. But it has to be said, I’ve been around plenty of dads who do.
The common myth that dads believe about mums
While most dads wouldn’t phrase it the way Brand did (with his references to mystique and spirituality), I’ve certainly noticed over the years that lots of dads believe something interesting about their partners.
They absolutely believe that a new mum knows exactly what to do. And they think they should just leave her to do it because “she’s good at it” or “I wouldn’t know what to do”.
This is a myth.
Every single one of us is thrown in the deep end when we have kids. It doesn’t seem ideal – I remember being utterly shocked at the fact that I didn’t suddenly know what to do when my first baby was born – but we’re all making it up as we go along.
The difference is that you’ll never hear a mum say, “Oh, I don’t know what to do, so I’ll just leave my partner to it.” No! A mum has no choice: she knows that she has to feed the baby, change nappies and deal with the crying.
Some dads, though, use this lack of knowing what to do as an absolute excuse for getting out of the nitty gritty of parenting.
The real joy of parenting
If I could talk to Brand – and other dads who leave their partners to do the hard work – I’d say this: You’re missing out, and so are your kids.
Because it’s actually in the tiny parts of mundane, practical parenting that the real joy is found. Those are the times you see your baby smile for the first time, that they get to look in your eyes and find a connection; those are the times when you get to know each other.
Go ahead and admit that you don’t know what to do – and we mums will empathise wholeheartedly – but please, give it a go anyway.
Megan Blandford is a freelance writer and the author of I’m Fine (and other lies), her story of postnatal depression, motherhood and trying to actually be fine. Follow Megan on Facebook