Are our expectations of fathers so low that changing a nappy is enough to earn the title of ‘great dad?’ That’s the second thought that went through my mind when I read that Prince Harry has been doing his fair share of diaper duty since little Archie’s arrival. The first thought that entered my brain was: What a great dad.
Welcome to parenthood, where mums and dads are held to completely different standards – and we’re all guilty of buying into it.
Sorry guys, changing a nappy doesn’t make you #dadgoals
While the internet’s been in a flutter about what a ‘modern dad’ Harry is for getting his hands (figuratively) dirty, I’m yet to read a single comment that makes any special mention of the fact that Meghan has presumably been rolling up her designer sleeves and mucking in too. Because apparently the mundane (and, sometimes, slightly gross) tasks associated with child rearing are expected of a mum, but not of a dad.
In an ocean of praise for Harry, one commentator quite rightly pointed out, “Why isn’t anyone impressed when a woman changes nappies?”
Why, indeed. Of course, being in line to the throne does make Hazza’s nappy-changing duties slightly exceptional, but we can’t ignore the fact that when dads do the bare minimum, they get celebrated for it – royal or not.
The dad worship needs to stop
Don’t get me wrong. I am totally guilty for falling into this trap too. Recently, at a friend’s house, her husband began preparing their three-year-old’s dinner without being prompted. Hell, he didn’t even ask what to make. He just got on with it. “How good is he?” I whispered while his back was turned. My friend, quite rightly, looked at me like I was slightly nuts and just shrugged. The problem is, had she started making dinner, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
We should expect men to ‘babysit’ their own kids, take turns doing the night feed or remember to pack a hat and sunscreen when they walk the little one to the park – it shouldn’t make us swoon in their wakes, muttering about how amazing they are.
You probably read all about how Chris Hemsworth baked his four-year-old daughter a birthday cake or that Prince William styles little Charlottes’ hair with the help of Youtube, am I right? But how many times have you baked a birthday cake, made the school lunches, packed daycare bags or whipped a brush through your little one’s hair as you dash out the door – along with the million other things you do day in, day out to keep everything ticking along – without any recognition?
We need to stop giving dads standing ovations for doing basic level parenting when women have been doing this for years, to the sound of deafening silence.
Equal praise for equal work
So, before you compliment a dad for ‘doing such a great job’, ask yourself this – would you say the same thing to a fellow mum in the same situation? If the answer is no, bite your tongue. Because not only is it offensive to all the great dads out there – and there are loads – but it sends a message to the not-so-great ones that the bare minimum they’re doing is enough when it absolutely, 100 percent isn’t.
Instead, let’s offer equal praise to both mums and dads for equal work.
So while I’m sure Prince Harry is a wonderful father, it’s certainly not because he’s changed a few nappies.