Changing the narrative

This morning, I found myself requesting my husband. ‘Hey, do you think you can babysit tomorrow, so I can run to the salon for half hour?’ To which he of course replied, ‘Sure, or we can come with you and wait’. He was being accommodating and I was requesting a favor. But there was something wrong in this exchange of words. There was an underlying understanding of roles which made me uncomfortable. I was requesting him to babysit his own child, when in actuality, shouldn’t it be something he does anyway? How did we get here? When did I become the ‘caretaker’ and he became the ‘help staff’? Were these roles we had chosen or roles that had been ingrained into us? It made me think.
I don’t ever like to generalize because I am fully aware of the fact that no matter how many people we meet, there will always be exceptions to the rule. But here I am forced to make a sweeping statement for the sake of understanding my own situation. South Asian men as a whole are more like the support staff when it comes to parenting. It could be because the mother naturally has to be around due to feeding or just because she has the luxury of being home with the child. But I have noticed that if the child cries, only the mother is expected to pacify her. If she poops, the mom has to be changing the diaper. If the dad changes it, he is considered a ‘good’ dad. But what is good when one is simply doing what he is meant to do? Isn’t this part of what makes him a father? A part of looking after this little thing?
I believe it starts from when we are very young. Little girls are taught to be nurturing and boys are accepted when they’re ‘naughty’ or ‘destructive’. It becomes a part of their narrative and then when they grow older, people dismiss non-nurturing behavior as being part of a boy’s DNA. But is that really the case? In the west, it is generally more acceptable for men to be hands’ on. In fact it is usually required due to the lack of help and the rise of nuclear families. Men are not praised for looking after their kids, they are merely appreciated for being good parents just like a mother would.
My issue here is not that men don’t want to do it. I feel like if we change the narrative and make parenting a 100% 2 person job, it can be easier on both. I’ve come to realize that being a parent is such a hard job, and defining clear cut roles for both genders makes it harder and tedious. It’s simpler for me knowing that she can turn to her dad for anything she needs. That he knows how to dry her tears and kiss that boo-boo just as well as I can. And I think he’s happy to do it too.


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