Let's harken back to 2005. America was admiring the first Corvette, savoring the taste of Lucky Strikes, and looking to "Leave It to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" as symbols of the ideal family, one focused squarely on a patriarch and a doting wife who spent her days tending to the children.
Wait, my bad. Wrong calendar. You'll have to forgive me. I was easily fooled into thinking it must have been decades ago that Donald Trump said the following about whether he ever changed any of his kids' diapers:
“There’s a lot of women out there that demand that the husband act like the wife and you know there’s a lot of husbands that listen to that... So you know, they go for it.” - Trump
That was a 2005 Donald Trump radio interview, recently brought back into the limelight with a BuzzFeed post. Trump was asked by Opie and Anthony's Anthony Cumia if he changed diapers. Trump flatly said no.
The Trump approach to fatherhood
What in the name of outdated sexism and insecure manhood is that about? I can't imagine telling my wife that she better change all the diapers because that's what she's good for. Seriously. That's what the gist of that quote is, that men who don't just "pitch in" but truly act as partners in parenting are somehow not a manly. There is nothing manlier than taking care of your kids. NOTHING.
(And yes, I get that writing a post about Trump at this point seems like an easy grab and overkill, but that's the kind of quote you can't ignore because you know there are millions of dads out there who agree with it. If you're one of them, I'd love to hear the rationale! Seriously!)
Regardless of your political views*, I'd hope you would find it unnerving and a little sad to hear a father, let alone one of the wealthiest and most visible men in the country, say that changing diapers is women's work.
* Seriously, regardless. I don't need or want to hear a political rant in the comments. I have enough cry babies in my house and at least their excuse is being 12 months old. This is about the fact a very prominent person and possible role model believes dads aren't acting manly if they change diapers, walk their baby in a stroller, or generally get involved.
Trump's parenting quote is circulating around the Internet right now because he's running for president of the United States, and you don't often hear a presidential candidate say, even in the past, something that so squarely goes against modern convention. It sounds like a quote from Mad Men that Don Draper would tell Betty ... and we all know how awesome of a dad Don Draper is!
But you and I both know guys who still wholeheartedly believe in this: a woman is for one role and a man is for another, and never the two shall mix. Or, as Trump said in that interview:
“I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids.” - Trump
If you're entering fatherhood now, this might even sound appealing. You think: Hey, I'm working and providing for the family! What more can you ask of me (and you better not say be a stay at home dad! The horror!)? I don't know anything about taking care of a baby, and my wife seems more comfortable with it. Let her do it and I'll pitch in here and there.
Frankly, dude, that's a lazy, garbage excuse. You're taking the easy way out because you know some people will just nod and move on, not thinking much of the fact you're punting on being an equal partner in taking care of your baby.
Be better. Be present. Be helpful.
Don't be a Trump dad.
A Trump dad tells his wife he's tired from working all day and blows off her request to take the baby to the grocery store so she can have a minute alone.
A Trump dad thinks holding the baby for five minutes after work counts as "dad time" before handing the baby right back so you can hang in your man cave.
A Trump dad doesn't get up in the night with the baby because you work the next day and figure your stay-at-home wife has an easy day of watching the baby.
A Trump dad doesn't change diapers, doesn't give baths, doesn't take the baby to the doctor, doesn't go out alone with the baby ... and then takes equal credit when people commend you for raising the baby.
A Trump dad says things like this at the idea of being seen in public with your own baby:
"Right, I’m gonna be walking down Fifth Avenue with a baby in a carriage. It just didn’t work.” - Trump
Be a modern dad.
This whole site is dedicated to the the very idea of being a modern dad. Why? Because a modern guy can't possibly be respectful of the mom if he thinks he doesn't need to contribute equally in raising the baby. Because it's not 1950 anymore. Because if you're going to be a dad, why not be an involved one? The payoff is so much richer and well earned.
I'm not saying it's easier. When I'm rocking my three kids under 3 to bed, or giving them all a bath, or taking them all to the grocery store, it's crazytown. But you can't truly enjoy the awesomeness of fatherhood if you're not willing to put in the work. And, by the way, diaper duty? Sign up for that, especially if your wife is breastfeeding. It'll help balance the scales, and it's not nearly as bad as you think.
Now, don't equate "OK great he's asking me to be one of those super involved dads" with "He must mean I have to quit everything and be endlessly patient and be Mr. Mom" because
- You can be involved and still do your own thing
- No one is endlessly patient when you've got a baby because babies are insane little stressballs that don't really care about things like "fair" or "logic."
- Mr. Mom is a nickname that needs to disappear, just like telling a dad he's "babysitting." (By the way, I love these Dads Don't Babysit shirts!)
But I also know that when I get a smile from my daughters or a hug from my son, it's earned. And I am confident I'm doing everything I can to make sure my wife feels supported. I am far — FAR — from a perfect dad, but I could give my kids a million dollars and it wouldn't make up for being involved.
Don't be a Trump dad. Make being a new dad great again.