Taking the Fat out of Fatherhood
Here are some tendencies and assumptions I have noticed that I have as a father:
- If there is something I need to do, Krista will take care of Miriam.
- Every diaper I change is, by far, dirtier than any Krista changes.
- If Miriam is crying and I have not been able to get her to stop, Krista knows the automatic answer and handing Miriam to her will serve as a cry-plug, thus ending the crying.
- Krista does not mind being used as a cry-plug.
- I seem to expect that when I get home the 9 hours I have put in are more stressful and demanding than the 9 hours Krista has put in, and I deserve a short break.
Luckily I did not notice (or these were not brought to my attention) all at once. The learning curve is pretty huge right now but I feel like the implications of these assumptions I have are pretty far reaching. Also the response to one assumption or tendency has impact over a wide range of other selfish actions. I have thought a lot about why I do some of these things and really what it comes down to is entitlement.
Entitlement describes a way of looking at life that says, “I am owed something.” It says, “Other people should cater to my needs because I have done something or I am a certain way that is deserving.” In essence it disregards the accomplishments and validity of other people and places the ownership of all the appreciation that is due on one person.
I have realized that this entitlement attitude is, ironically, what creates lazy, fat fathers. When fathers come home from work and decide without discussing with their wives that they deserve a break and sit in front of the television for an hour, this is entitlement. When after working a 40 or more hour week a man decides that he can go hunting or golfing over the weekend, leaving his wife and kids at home, this is entitlement. Unfortunately when fathers get home and need a drink to relax, and feel that one beer just isn’t enough to reward such hard work, this is entitlement. I am not suggesting that I do all these things, nor that all these things are bad at all times. I am suggesting that recognition and appreciation is not something we take, it is something we are given. When we demand time for ourselves and show an attitude of entitlement we are the only ones doing any appreciating.
The reason I say we need to take the fat out of fatherhood is not because I believe that all fathers are overweight. I simply believe that there is often a selfish, inward focused attitude behind the attitudes of fathers. I am also not suggesting that this same attitude is always at the center of overweight people. The focus here is on entitlement. How much more rewarding would the hunting trip or afternoon of golf be if it were something granted to husbands instead of taken. I think that when recognition is given to moms for their hard work and when they are shown that their full-time job of taking care of children is not taken for granted, the husbands will only find a sense of entitlement because it is given to them by their families. I think at this point it will no longer be entitlement but rather privilege.