Male Incompetence in Fatherhood

It’s no secret that standards for men are lower in almost every area of life outside of their work. Despite the years that have passed since the sexual revolution and the feminist movement, men are still stereotypically seen as the breadwinners of their families and nothing more. While more avenues are open for career-driven women, those who choose to be stay-at-home mothers either full-time or while remotely working from home are put in the difficult position where they are required to figure out how to take care of a household with little to no support from their male partners.

When I became a father back in 2020, I very quickly learned how ingrained this mindset was, even for myself. After working all day, I found myself instinctually indignant at the prospect of having to come home and do the cooking or get the baby to bed. But I soon realized that while I had the ability to completely disconnect from my work as soon as my shift was over, my wife had no such opportunity with her motherly duties. She was essentially on-call at all times of the day or night. Even when our son went to sleep for a few hours, she often had to do laundry or clean the kitchen or the many other household tasks which pile up when you have an infant in the house.

Because of this, I very soon realized I would have to take on more household responsibilities if I wished to have a sane wife in a year. Fortunately for me, I already knew how to cook pretty well, so it was no problem taking over the tasks of cooking supper and grocery shopping. I discovered I could order groceries online, which allowed me to pick them up after work and still have time to get supper on the table by 6.

Additionally, I started doing my best to attend to the baby on nights when I didn’t have to leave for work at 5:30 the next morning. I’m a bit of a deep sleeper, so I’m afraid I may have repeatedly failed in this aspect quite a few times.

These changes were certainly not easy to make. Taking care of a baby requires a major learning curve that everyone is inevitably going to struggle with. Even so, once I put my head to it, it didn’t take me long to master these new parental skills.

This undoubtedly comes across to some as a bit boastful, but I certainly am not trying to make the point that I am a perfect spouse. There’s a lot I have to work on, especially when it comes to my introverted tendencies getting in the way of communicating with my wife. However, I bring up my own experience because, unlike many men, I had the unique privilege of being experienced in taking care of kids. 

I understand why some men struggle with taking on more tasks around the house. Men are often shamed for being incompetent at things, whether it’s at their jobs, sports, or even video games. Masculinity is seemingly measured by how good they are at the thing. (I can distinctly recall being told as a child that I threw a ball “like a girl.”)

So when it comes to household tasks that men are already expected to be incapable of handling, it can often be easier to simply avoid the humility of taking on the task altogether. Why risk doing a bad job at cooking or changing a diaper when your wife clearly has it all figured out?

Of course, the issues stretch far beyond this. Many women have the tendency to nitpick at their partner’s performance at a task which makes them less likely to voluntarily pitch in. Many men feel emasculated doing housework, and others simply don’t know where to begin.

Cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry are seemingly easy tasks, so we often forget that it’s still a process we had to learn at some point. Once we’ve done something a thousand times, we take it for granted when other people don’t know how. On top of this, some people’s brains don’t work when it comes to breaking larger tasks down into smaller ones.

Of course, these issues are entirely genderless and exist for both men and women. The problem is women are expected to figure it out while men are allowed (and even expected) to simply live in filth unless a woman comes along to get them out of it.

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