The next time somebody calls me an “involved dad,” I think I might just scream.

Not that the term is inaccurate. I mean, I sure am involved in my son’s life – we’re more or less joined at the hip. But if you see a mother wearing her baby around the supermarket, do you praise her for her “involvement” in her child’s upbringing? Or do you just compliment her on her ability to juggle her groceries and infant into (and then back out of) the car?

When it’s a father carrying a child, though, the world seems to stop and take notice. The attention that we get isn’t exactly bad for my ego – nor does Micah really seem to mind it so much. (He’s already a bigger flirt than I ever was.) But there’s just something about that word that irks me. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just doing my best to be a good dad. Maybe there are other guys out there who are particularly uninvolved? 

Perhaps I take my adjectives a bit too seriously; after all, I do spend much of my time playing around with words. I understand that the family role I’ve taken on is outside of the status quo, and that by many standards I’m fortunate to have the leisure to take my son shopping for food in the middle of the day. But you know what? Using words like involved for fathers like me only serves to perpetrate the perception that my lifestyle is (and by implication should remain) abnormal.

For what it’s worth, it means a lot to me that people seem to dig my parenting style. But I hope that it’s because of the ways in which I care for my son, and not simply because I’m a man doing it.

5 thoughts on “Involved”

  1. I knew this was coming 😉

    I think we are going to be seeing more and more ‘involved dads’ Just met a father of two daughters, 4 and 6, who has been home with them the whole time. He said it’s been wonderful.

  2. No one ever compliments me when I’m lugging tons of groceries with the two little ones. Nothing novel about a mom balancing it all.

  3. One should always take adjectives seriously :-)

    And, honestly, calling people out on it or drawing attention to it is probably more meaningful than larger scale things like the very fact that you are “involved” because it makes people see how words that they think are descriptive of the “norm” are actually loaded with social connotations that they don’t think about. Though this opinion of mine is one of the things Z gets the most annoyed with!

    Incidentally, at the commencement of a university where I used to be employed – a university that usually graduates your standard preppy kids who, if they are men, by and large go on to be investment bankers (not that there is anything wrong with that, or that women can’t be investment bankers, but the alumni job ratio of men to investment bankers at this school is rather absurd!) – had this AMAZING feminist commencement speaker who, amidst sewing hope for all sorts of rebalanced gender norms in the future, said her biggest hope was that (a) women would no longer be shamed on all sides for creating their own balance between work-and-family life and that (b) men would no longer be praised excessively for having achieved that balance if all they have done is in fact acquire a wife and have a child. The intake of breath was audible. It was amazing.

    Good for you, and M, and J!

  4. I understand what you’re feeling. We women after divorce etc., we hear things like “you have your hands full” as if we are crippled by our little bundles of joy. But what we are really thinking is – some of us can handle more than others we are not so focused on SELF!! I understand you! Your photos always almost make me tear up they truly are exemplary of a great papa and mom! Bravo!!!

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