Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Real Men Change Diapers

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“Fathers be good to your daughters, Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too.”

-John Mayer, Daughters

Doyin Richards is a father who took a few months off from his corporate job to stay home with his daughters while his wife worked. He has a blog where he writes about parenting and his experiences being a stay at home dad. He recently posted this picture:

Photo from Daddy Doin' Work
Photo from Daddy Doin’ Work

And then things blew up. He’s been on the news, on talk shows. Everybody’s talking about this picture. What was your reaction when you saw it? Mine was Wow, that’s a great dad… Not everyone had a positive reaction. He received a lot of positive response but also a fair share of negative comments. Many of them racist, some of them demeaning him for not working. I think it’s clear from this picture that this man is working. He’s multitasking and he’s nurturing and he’s doing the every day tasks of parenting.

I can’t wrap my brain around peoples’ negative reactions to this. To all the men who were hating on this Dad, let me clue you in. Every woman who sees this picture loves it. We think it’s awesome. You want the woman in your life to really find you sexy? Take notes from this man. It’s not your car or your wallet that we find attractive, it’s your dedication to your family. It’s your involvement with your children.

Real men get on the floor and play with their kids. Real men give their kids baths. Real men put the kids to bed and read them stories and sing them silly songs. Real men change diapers. Real men don’t view this parenting thing as something they drop into once in a while. Real men get down in the trenches with their partner and work as a team.

I know women who say their husbands refuse to change diapers. Some men who have a few children have never changed a diaper. I am not being flippant when I say that as a wife that might be a deal breaker for me. I don’t think I could respect or be attracted to a man who refused to do some of the most basic parenting tasks.

When we had my son 13 years ago (gulp), my husband was more at ease with caring for a baby than I was. I had a younger brother and babysat often growing up but I still was in a state of panic every time my son cried. My husband was calm and reassuring. He had grown up the oldest of four and his mom ran a day care out of the house for a number of years so he was completely comfortable with babies (and he didn’t have crazy postpartum hormones coursing through his veins). I was in awe of him those first few days. He took over when I was overwhelmed. He would get up with me in the middle of the night when I had to feed our son. I didn’t demand any of this. He did these things because he wanted to. He wanted to be a part of everything and experience this journey with me and our son.

With all three of our children he changed diapers. He played with them. He did everything I did with our children. Many things he did better. While I would sing them lullabies, he would make up his own songs that would make them laugh. While I would play games on the floor with them, he would come up with crazy scenarios and stunts that would engage them in a different way that seemed way more fun. There were times in those early days that I was a little envious of his funny antics that our kids loved. He was more creative and silly and fun than I was. But that jealousy was short lived. I loved watching him with them. I still do. Even now that they’re older and all way beyond the diaper stage, he still is just as involved with them.

When he takes them to school he sings along to the radio but change the words to make them laugh. He’ll still brush my daughter’s hair when she’ll let him. He plays basketball with my son and even when it gets competitive my son’s grinning ear to ear and laughing. He texts my son when he’s out of town. He still snuggles with my four year old and puts her to bed most nights when he’s home. He’s not just involved, it’s obvious to my kids that there is no where he’d rather be. And I’m so grateful for that.

As a stay at home mom, most of the parenting tasks fall on me. My husband works very hard at his job, but I know that when he comes home I get a little bit of a break. I know that I’m lucky. I don’t for one second take it for granted. I hope that men like Doyin Richards and other great dads out there keep doing what they’re doing. Hopefully eventually a picture like the one Richards posted won’t seem unusual. A woman could have posted the same picture and no one would have noticed. One day our society will catch up with fathers like Richards, like my husband, like many other dads I know who are great dads. There are tons of amazing dads out there. Our generation has improved on the concept of what it is to be a dad. Dads are no longer just the disciplinarians and bread winners of the past. But I still celebrate dads that do it all. As a mom, as a woman, as a wife, I am grateful to these men. I am so glad that I have a partner who is involved in all aspects of my kids’ lives. I am so glad that I married a real man.

3 Responses

  1. I love this. It reminds me of this quote: ‘Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a daddy.’

    Kids are hard work. Nobody should ever be looked down on for raising them with loving care…

    You know, growing up, I had biological father who lived with us but wasn’t present. He was around but took on none of the dad roles. He was in photos, he showed up at school functions, he sat at the head of the table during dinner….but it felt like since he had a paper saying he was married to my mom and donated some sperm to help create my brother and I, that he felt like he should somehow own us without any work. I have no memories of him playing with us, bathing us, disciplining us in healthy ways, teaching us by example…

    Then I had my Godfather. He wasn’t perfect. But he was there for me. He actually got in our kiddy pool with my brother and I every summer. He played dolls with me. He tucked me in. When I took myself or the world too seriously, he would hug me, kiss me and ALWAYS say, ‘Are you gonna live to see tomorrow?’ I would always reply with a yes and he would always say, ‘Then I think it’s gonna be okay…don’t you?’ How could I argue with that? He gently brushed the tangles out of my hair. He was ALWAYS at my school performances with a camera, over the moon excited to not only be at my performance, but to PARTICIPATE.

    I haven’t had a relationship with my biological father. Part of it is the abuse. I do consider myself forgiving, but I don’t (and never have) feel connected to my father.

    I do miss my godfather terribly. He died 20 years ago. I continue to honor him every year on Father’s Day. The only childhood momento I travel with is a teddy bear my godfather gave me when I was six. If I were going to call anyone dad, it would be him.

    It takes a lot of work to be a good parent, especially to little ones. As very young people, our brains are so spongy and we absorb so much of the world. Parents should remember that time is VITAL for teaching love and setting a foundation for a very good relationship with their kids..

    Glad you have a conscious husband.

    This post really struck a cord with me. Thank you for sharing.

    Have a great day,

  2. Thank you for your comments. I am so sorry you lost your Godfather, he sounds like a pretty special person. I think you are so brave to share your story about your biological father, it makes my heart ache to think about what you’ve been through but also I see someone who seems incredibly strong and resilient.

    I started the post with the quote from John Mayer’s song “Daughters” because it represents what I wanted to say with this but also it’s a song that brings my husband to tears every time he hears it. The way he is with kids is one of the reasons I fell for him. I wanted desperately to be a “Daddy’s Girl” when I was younger but I didn’t have that kind of relationship with my Dad. My two girls definitely have that with my husband and I’m so grateful…

    Your mention of your teddy bear seriously made me tear up when I got this message in the middle of the grocery store.

    1. I cried after reading your post too. I was so grateful for the memories it triggered in me. The tears needed to come up and out. 🙂 Release is always good.

      Your girls are lucky… And so are you.

      Have a great night!

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