Some Days, I Just Want To Be The Dad


Full disclosure, this post is based on stereotypical gender roles. Also, I should mention that my husband and I have a pretty egalitarian relationship whereby we each do almost exactly half of the kid and house responsibilities. He is even a pretty great cook, so sometimes he does more than half when I’m craving his recipes. This post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek about the roles that society typically assigns to moms and dads, so don’t come at me with pitchforks please.


Now, onto my rant.

This past December, for some masochistic reason, I decided to do holiday cards for the first time. Maybe it was pregnancy hormones or maybe I just got caught up in the Christmas spirit. Actually, it was because I conveniently had both cute family photos and a coupon for Minted, so here we are.

As I was trying my best to communicate with aging relatives for their addresses, my husband was busy playing video games. As I was in line for an hour at the post office getting Santa stamps, I assume my husband was playing video games, but he was at work so I guess that is less likely. And as I was getting paper cuts on my tongue sealing these 30 envelopes, my mind wandered back to my gender studies minor in college where we learned about something called:

kinship tasks

As I recall, “kinship tasks” are the mental and physical tasks that women often get pressured to perform to keep family members together and communicating with each other. Things like keeping track of birthdays, making sure that Christmas presents for nieces and nephews are purchased, and mailing out holiday cards.

These tasks overwhelmingly fall on women to perform (in heterosexual dyads), and it can get exhausting.

Women are typically the ones to make sure that not only their side of the family, but also their partner’s side, are all in the loop and stay connected. If left up to men, we’d never talk to extended family again (I assume that was the lesson of the class but it was 2005 so my memory is fuzzy).

I asked my husband about what he thought about holiday cards and he did not seem to care at all. Pretty typical, but to be fair, I didn’t care before this December so I guess that’s not really on him. But sometimes I’d like to just not care.


Actually, I would really like to eliminate the presumption that I should care.

Here’s what I mean. Moms are expected to be the person to do a bunch of different tasks and dads are given a free pass to take a backseat to planning or participation. Now, there are plenty of dads, my husband included, who don’t take a backseat and are very involved in their kids’ lives. But this is always a bonus as far as society views it. Society likes to assume that moms do certain things and it’s a presumptuous expectation. If she doesn’t want to, she’s asked why with an incredulous tone. And if dads want to, they are commended and heralded because their involvement is seen as extra.


Two pertinent examples come up with school-aged kids.

I was asked to be on the PTA and was expected to be on a committee. My husband was told there was a “dad’s club” where they do manly things like paint or fix stuff, but he was not expected to be in the traditional PTA and attend regular meetings like I am. There are certainly dads there, but this is less than 10% of the participants. And everyone is cool with that. But if I say that I dislike volunteering at my kids’ school just because I don’t really like dealing with other people’s kids and I’m also not a big PTA person, I’m looked at oddly by some.

But my husband is never really asked to the same degree.

And if my kid is sick, guess who the first person is that the school calls? It’s always me. Now, my day is much harder to clear than my husband’s, so he is almost always the one to stay home with a sick kid, but just once I’d like the school to flip the script and call him first for a change. I’d like to be informed after the fact that my kid is home in bed and my husband is making him soup when I call to check in.


This also comes up with other tasks like planning birthday parties or organizing play dates.

I actually enjoy these tasks so I don’t take issue with the assumption that I’ll do it because I will. Although this is also a burden that many moms unequally bear and they may not like it much.


But I really just want the world to give dads credit to be competent and equal partners and parents.

I’d also like the world to put the same presumption and expectation on them that they do on me as the mom. I want society to assume that my husband might also like to volunteer in the classroom, and I’d like boys to be taught that they can be responsible for their own side of kinship tasks.

So it’s not that I necessarily want to be the dad in terms of the invisible responsibilities and expectations placed on me. I just want dads to be afforded the option without things always defaulting to me. Because if my husband was asked, he would. He’s pretty great like that.  


  1. My hubby is a pretty equal partner, but just for a month or two I would love to flip the roles, let him do all the laundry and I can do the yard work especially since we have a gardener.

  2. My favorite is when I go out of town my parents offer to help with kids and invite them for dinner, when he goes out of town I get no offers for help and no dinner and no break!

    My husband is pretty great with helping and cooking dinner is I hand him the recipes. He is great with the kids and laundry too! But you are right those gender roles are still pressuring women!

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