Dads are Not Second-class Parents, Part 5: Perception & Paradigms

This installment of the Dads are Not Second-class Parents series came about in an interesting way. Back in July of 2008, I spoke about this topic on At Issue With Ben Merens, on Wisconsin Public Radio. Soon after, I received a call from the Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin, a state run program. I was asked to be a guest speaker at one of their conferences, and this article is the result.

I recently had the honor of speaking with professionals that are dedicated to helping dads (both in-home and in various programs throughout the state) become better, more involved parents. After all was said and done, I realized this would make a good blog post…

Today I’ll be focusing on how dads are often perceived, drawing concepts from my article, ‘Dads are Not Second Class Parents.’

The question I have for you today is this:

How do we show fathers that they don’t have to be carbon copies of their fathers & grandfathers? How do we turn fathers into involved DADS who ARE ABLE to change a diaper, feed their children, care for them and nurture them. That they are able to teach their kids their numbers, letters, virtues, morality and integrity. Show them compassion.

This is not to say that moms are less capable to do these things — this is just to say that WE are as capable as moms to do them.

We are not a stereotype. Working men whose duty it is to make the money, deposit the checks and the sperm. WE ARE PARENTS. We are modern day dads.

I have been told by a close family member, something that troubled me very much. Let me tell you a little story…

There was a time where I worked from home as a freelance writer. For the first year and a half of my oldest son’s life. I was able to make my own schedule, and spend a lot of time with my son. Day in and day out, I fully shared the parenting with my wife. And I was making good money.

One day, at a birthday party for a cousin, I was speaking about raising my son. I can’t remember exactly what I was speaking about. But what I do remember is being told, “you know Joe, it’s not your job to raise this child. It’s your job to make the money and provide financially. It’s your wife’s job to raise this child.” It was also mentioned that I should be going to an office like everybody else to earn a living, not working from home.

Needless to say, I was VERY, VERY upset by this comment.

Now imagine hearing “you shouldn’t be raising your child,” from family and the community. You turn on the TV and dads, if they’re even around, are bumbling idiots or sitting in the background pouring themselves a cup of coffee – while mom makes the dinner, works a full-time job, changes the diapers, cleans the house and discovers a cure for blindness — all at the same time!

Not only does this insult dads, the ones who actually DO all these things themselves, but it also sets a very low standard for fathers who do not. It perpetuates a problem where everybody loses.

What I’m saying is, when this kind of perception or paradigm BLEEDS in from TV, magazines, society, family — the message is pretty clear. I am lucky enough that my wife has always been supportive and agrees that we should be parenting together. But what about the dad who does not have this type of wife? Who’s surrounded and pressured by old-school thinking?

What else is HE supposed to believe? How can he know any better?

I’m from NY, I’ve been raised in a progressive environment. What about someone who comes from a small town, where these progressive thoughts do not exist? Or the dad who doesn’t know he has choices, because he’s never been introduced to them? How are they supposed to know they have a choice when they’re being told:
MAKE THE MONEY, THAT’S YOUR JOB.

It’s all about perception. How dads are perceived vs. who they really are. Sometimes the perception of a dad — even just calling him a father vs. a dad (there’s a difference) — sometimes this perception causes him to feel isolated AS IF he’s on an island, as if he has no support, because he can’t find any! There are no magazines geared towards dads, no acceptable venue for us to speak about what’s on our minds, what we’re struggling with.

Could you imaging the reaction a dad might receive if he walked into work and told his coworkers that he cried on the car ride in because he missed his kids? What would you think of a man that said this? Would you judge him, or respect him?

It’s the same with women who were prejudiced against for years and years. They weren’t allowed to vote, then they could vote. It was very difficult to become an executive, now their presence as an executive is much more prevalent. Now, although the battle is not over, there is much more equality. But it has taken decades in order for women to reach a point where they can feel somewhat respected and treated equally to men.

Do you think for a moment that women were not capable of voting? Or making executive decisions? Of course they were capable. But they needed a movement to overcome the obstacles laid before them.

Now is the time for an equal rights movement for dads.

This is the main reason I started blogging. It’s why Daddy Brain exists. To help build a community for dads who don’t have one. To let them know that it’s OK to be feeling whatever it is they are feeling. That they are not alone.

You too can do this, if you haven’t already started.

Before we can help dad, first we need to understand him, and what he THINKS his role is. If we can connect with him, the input he receives from us could very well change his life. I’d like to turn this conversation over to you, to discuss what your major problems are in doing this. And what you have found that works well to engage dad and help him take his place as a true parent.

And remember, you are not alone…

Additional Dads are Not Second-class Parents Articles:
– Part 1
Part 2: And Then There’s Dad
Part 3: A Divorced Dad’s Perspective
Part 4: Dads Need Help Too
A Question for Dads: Have You Been Treated Like a Second-class Parent?

Where’s the Dad in Toy Story?

Family Blogs
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The Daddy Brain Radio Show

Click here to listen to the inaugural episode of The Daddy Brain Radio Show!

The show aired live on Monday, March 16th @ 7 pm, Central Time, on WORT Radio (89.9 FM). The topic of the show was: Dads are Not Second-class Parents.

I took calls, live on the air, from dads just like you about issues that relate to modern day dads. I even had a surprise in-studio guest who spoke about raising his son and a rare positive divorce experience (in the courts & with his ex).

Although there were a few kinks, like not mentioning the station’s phone number enough, the show went well and I learned a lot. I’m also grateful to WORT for providing me with the opportunity.

Click the link above and listen to the archived show from anywhere in the world on your computer with streaming audio.

And remember, you are not alone…

Multi-channel Daddy Brain Events in March

March is shaping up to be a very positive month for Daddy Brain, with three modern-day-dad events!

If you’re a dad please feel free to join me — in person or on the radio waves. And please spread the word…

March 12, 2009
Fulfilling the Promise Conference: supporting and educating parents
3 pm, Kalahari Resorts, Wisconsin Dells, WI
No Father is an Island Workshop. I will be speaking with professionals who work directly with dads and families. Topics include issues I wrote about in Dads are Not Second-class Parents, and how they relate to dads in different family, professional and economic situations. This was also a topic I discussed on At Issue With Ben Merens, on Wisconsin Public Radio. Click here for access to all three shows that Daddy Brain appeared on.

March 16, 2009
The Daddy Brain Radio Show
7 pm, Central Time, WORT Radio
I’ll be taking calls on the air about issues relating to modern day dads. Feel free to call in! You can listen to this show on your computer with live streaming audio by adding it to your iTunes, Windows Media Player, VLC or Winamp. Just 
click here and download the station to the format of your choice. If you’re local to Wisconsin you can also listen on 89.9 FM. 

March 19, 2009
The Daddy Brain Dads’ Group
7:30 pm, The Madison Public Library, Sequoya Branch, Madison, WI
A place for modern-day dads to talk about what’s on our minds, in our hearts and what we struggle with as parents. Whether you’re a working dad, a stay-at-home-dad, or somewhere in-between this is your chance to be heard.

Join our monthly meetings the third Thursday of every month @ The Madison Public Library, Sequoya Branch, 4340 Tokay Blvd, Madison, WI. Our first meeting will be Thursday, March 19th from 7:30-8:45 pm. To reserve your seat, or for more info, contact Joey at joeyguido@juno.com.

And remember, you are not alone…

Join Daddy Brain on the Radio!

Join me today @ 5pm (CST) on Wisconsin Public Radio, for an hour-long discussion on giving your kids one of the greatest gifts of all. It doesn’t cost a dime, but it lasts a lifetime. What is it? Their own voice. 

You can listen in from anywhere in the world by clicking here and adding Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network to your iTunes, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. It takes about 30 seconds to download the station. Then, just double click the icon on your desktop to automatically add to your playlist.

The show gives listeners opportunity to call in, be heard and be part of the conversation. Just dial (800) 486-8655.

If you’re local to Wisconsin, you can also listen in on any of the following stations:

– WHA-AM 970 Madison
– WERN-FM 88.7 Madison
– KUWS-FM 91.3 Superior
– WHRM-FM 90.9 Wausau
– WHAD-FM 90.7 Delafield/Milwaukee
– WPNE-FM 89.3 Green Bay
– WLSU-FM 88.9 La Crosse

I hope you get a chance to tune in!

And remember, you are not alone…

Daddy Brain On The Radio

Daddy Brain is scheduled to be a guest on At Issue With Ben Merens
a daily radio show on Wisconsin Public Radio.

When: Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Time: 5 pm (CST)
Where: Wisconsin Public Radio, The Ideas Network

At Issue with Ben Merens, is an hour-long talk show that is “dedicated to current events and hard news, includes expert guests, policy-makers, commentators, and authors.” 

The show gives listeners the opportunity to call in, be heard, and be part of the conversation. Just dial (800) 486-8655.

You can listen to the show live from anywhere in the world with online streaming audio. Click here to hear it through iTunes, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer.

You can also listen on any of the following Wisconsin radio stations:

– WHA-AM 970 Madison
– WERN-FM 88.7 Madison
– KUWS-FM 91.3 Superior
– WHRM-FM 90.9 Wausau
– WHAD-FM 90.7 Delafield/Milwaukee
– WPNE-FM 89.3 Green Bay
– WLSU-FM 88.9 La Crosse

I hope you get a chance to tune in. Feel free to call and talk with us! Please spread the word.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
Ben Merens Web Site: Author, Speaker and Communications Professional
Talk Radio Should be Forum, Not Soapbox, by Ben Merens