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4 Things You Shouldn't Say to Dads

Photograph by Twenty20

When it comes to being a parent, dads often grapple with proving themselves to be just as qualified as any mom. But it’s time to put the kibosh on these parenting stereotypes. Let’s face it. There are more fathers taking a more active role in caring for their children.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of stay-at-home dads has nearly doubled since 1989 to 2012 and it appears the number will continue to grow in years to come.

My husband still works outside of the home, but he’s just as active as I am with our 2- and 5-year-olds. But, there are still people who are shocked by his parenting. In fact, every now and then he’ll come home annoyed by someone criticizing his role as a father. That said, here are four things you shouldn’t say to dads.

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1. Don’t ask Dad if he’s on diaper duty

Some people assume that dads don’t change diapers. While that may have been the case many years ago, that’s not necessarily true these days. There are a lot of dads changing diapers and taking care of bath time, among many other things, too.

For the record, dads don’t babysit their own children. They take care of them just like any parent.

2. Never refer to a dad as a babysitter

I remember my husband coming home from work feeling annoyed because a coworker asked if he was “stuck babysitting.” For the record, dads don’t babysit their own children. They take care of them just like any parent.

3. Don’t act surprised if you see Daddy styling his daughter’s hair.

We’ve all been guilty of this to some extent. I'll be the first time admit it. There's a little girl who attends the same daycare as my 2-year-old son. Everyday when her dad drops her off, he takes a couple of minutes to style her hair. The first time I witnessed this sweet moment, I wanted to approach him and say how impressed I was and that he's doing a great job. But then I realized that I'd perpetuating the stereotype that "Dads can't do hair," and that is obviously not true. My husband also styles our kids' hair, and it's the norm in our household. But for some reason society doesn't view it the same way. There have even been countless viral videos featuring fathers combing their children’s hair. But, would we give it the same attention if a mom were to do it? I doubt it.

4. Avoid phrases like, “You’re such a good dad for staying home to take care of the baby.”

Some people assume that whenever a child is home sick that it’s mom who’s there to take care of the little one. But that’s not always the case at all. There was a time when both my husband and I worked full time. Whenever one of our kids got sick, we’d take turns leaving work.

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These are just a few things people shouldn't say to dads, and I’m sure there’s a whole lot more. With Father’s Day just around the corner, the "Make It Work" organization featured fathers giving examples of some of the "Crazy Sh*t People Say to Dads" like, “Oh, look at Dad with the baby. That’s so nice of him.”

The video ends with one father calling for change. “Stereotypes about moms and dads distract us from the supports that all families need and deserve, like paid family leave and affordable child care,” he says.

We can all do our part by putting an end these stereotypes in order for that change to happen. "Make It Work" encourages other fathers to join in and share their own absurd experiences on Twitter with the hashtag #DadsFTW.

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