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October 29, 2021

Discover the t

Along my journey as the primary caregiver to our kids, I learned a lot about myself- but also about the societal roles and expectations that exist for parents. I became aware of some of the outdated and damaging gender beliefs of some of the cultural that are placed on women and men.I became aware that something was not quite right when I first learned we were pregnant. At that time, I realized that I didn’t know anything and needed to learn everything about raising a baby. So, I invited my girlfriends with kids over to get their input on just about everything. I asked them endless questions about every topic. At one point in the conversation one of my girlfriends fell silent and was shaking her head. I thought maybe I had asked too many questions, or the questions had become too personal, but that was not the case. When I asked, she said that she thought I was lucky being a gay man because I didn’t have to deal with all the “crap” that women do. As you might imagine, as a gay man, no one had ever said that to me before. This was my first exposure to the many stresses, guilt-laden thoughts and stereotypical gender expectations that are placed on both women and men.It was at this time I realized that there was more going on with my friends with regards to parenting than I knew. I began becoming more aware of the many cultural beliefs that are woven throughout our lives. I realized that being a gay dad actually gave me a unique perspective on parenting. it ultimately allowed me to question many of the assumptions, roles, and expectations that exist in the “traditional” family setting that can adversely impact women and men. My quest to learn how best to care for my babies started with a blank slate. I had no expectations or preconceived ideas about how to do anything or who should be doing it. I was only interested in capturing the things that really worked; this led me to question everything and take nothing for granted it.Throughout my journey, I made several observations and became aware of numerous parenting myths that are old, out of date, and even destructive.The Perfect Parent, i.e., Super Mom or DadThis idea or concept of the perfect parent is so ridiculous and, honestly, completely BS. There is no such thing! If you’re doing your best as a first-time parent, you’re doing an awesome job! Trying to live up to the idea of being a super mom or super dad, is crazy. The “I can do it all—and perfectly” belief, sets you up for failure and huge disappointment, not to mention, you will burn yourself out trying. Remember, those Instagram “perfect parents”, aren’t real! Being a perfect parent is impossible; you will make mistakes, forget things, and have bad days, but being a good, even great parent is possible.Women Innately Will Know How to Care for BabiesOne thing that my girlfriends told me made them uncomfortable was asking too many questions regarding parenting. They feared that others would think they were bad parents or that something was wrong with them. There is this false expectation placed on women that somehow they innately should know everything there is about taking care of a baby. Everything will come naturally to them! What I have learned from the numerous women I have spoken to about this is that no one is born with innate knowledge of how to care for a baby. We all reach parenthood with generally with the same amount of knowledge – almost nothing – and we learn everyday by doing. Granted, girls may have some basic parenting skills from helping their mothers or from baby-sitting, but that is pretty limited know-how. Additionally, today, many new parents live farther from their families than ever, so getting the traditional, handed-down information happens far less.So, as new parents you shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions or feel bad for doing so. Let’s be clear; asking questions doesn’t make you a horrible parent—it makes you a smart and caring one! Ignore what anyone else thinks; you’ve got to do what is right for you and your family. Know That Breastfeeding Is Not for EveryoneAs a guy I was not going be breastfeeding, but I wanted to know everything I could about it. In the process, I spoke to with countless women about breastfeeding, as well as a pediatrician, a lactation specialist, various nannies, night nurses, and surrogates. I learned a few things about breastfeeding that are important to note.It’s not for everyone! Lots of things can go wrong, and it can be pretty painful. I learned that everybody’s breastfeeding experience is unique and different. Some moms can’t do it at all, and some have limited success, while others find it relatively easy. Across the board, most of the women I spoke to experienced some challenges with breastfeeding. One thing, however that almost all women shared in common was the pressure and guilt they felt around deciding whether to breastfeed. Many felt that if they didn’t, they were not a good mothers. If they didn’t, it meant they didn’t love their baby, that they were lazy, or something was wrong with them, etc. WOW! was my reaction to hearing the many stories moms shared with me. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not is your personal decision. There are so many factors involved in making this decision that only you can make. I think it’s important to know that whether you breastfeed or not, is not a reflection of how “good” of a mother you are—loving your baby is the only measure that really matters. Who’s Work Is It AnywayAnother stereotypical, outdated concept I have observed is the thought that because one is female, you are expected by default to inherit all, or most, of the duties of taking care of the kids. I tell couples to seriously make sure each person pulls their weight in the child-rearing area because it can lead to some serious resentment creeping into the relationship. A more balanced distribution of the workload is needed, not only in quantity but also in the type of work. Moms tend to get the majority of the less fun chores, where dads tend to take on more of the entertaining type activities. Things are improving as dads step up and take on more child-rearing activities and moms expect more support.I’m So Happy to Be a ParentCaring for a new baby is hard work, it can be extraordinarily frustrating, and exhausting. At times, I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. In fact, as a new parent you are going to feel some incredibly intense emotions. I was shocked at the roller coaster of emotions I felt. I’m a pretty laid back, positive person, but there were times when I felt tremendously angry, especially when my babies would cry, seemingly endlessly. I felt awful about the thoughts and emotions I was experiencing; I thought I turned into some crazy person I didn’t even know. After sharing my feelings with my family, and friends, they told me that they too had experienced these feelings. My reaction was, “Why didn’t you tell me or warn me?” This is something every new parent needs to know upfront. So, I will be honest with you:—it’s not all happy, smiling rainbows. You will have your moments that you wonder what the heck did I do—and it will pass, it will come again, and it will pass. But throughout your new-parent journey, you may find yourself struggling, and if you do, you absolutely should ask for help. More than likely, whatever struggle you maybe dealing with, other parents have probably been in your shoes too.5. Ditch the Guilt Guilt. OMG—As a new parent we all feel some degree of parenting guilt, but my girlfriends, took it to a whole new level. It shocked me to understand just how much guilt women experienced as mothers, on so many topics. And, I believe, it comes down to expectations. So much of the stress, guilt, and frustration is the result of expectations put on parents and women from society, others, partners, and even ourselves.It’s already stressful enough being a new parent, but to have the extra burden of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations makes it even harder. Let’s start by dropping the old, out-of-date, gender-specific expectations and start encouraging and supporting each other so we all get more joy out of the amazing journey of parenthood.6. Gender RolesThe role of moms and dads today are not only more diverse but expanded. Today’s parents are not only found in the traditional married role, but can also be divorced, unmarried, or a step-parent—and still others are gay, raising children with their partners. In the past, moms were pretty much expected to take care of the kids and the home, and dads were the breadwinners. Today, it’s not enough for dads to just bring home a paycheck; many moms are doing that too. Increasingly, dads can be found not only in the office but as the primary caregivers, while moms are the breadwinners in the family. These expanded roles are driven by a shift in our societal and cultural expectations for moms or dads, as well as the desires of parents to shed old gender stereotypes.Having a well-balanced role for today’s dads has a positive impact for the children in its ability to show a broader spectrum of male masculinity. A real man can do housework, comfort his kids, and even show affection to his children by hugging and kissing them. This also helps children to learn what a healthy relationship looks like, so when they grow up, they will have the right expectation of what a well-balanced, strong, independent man looks and acts like. ruth about parenting roles in our society

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