Doyin Richards dad duty photo should be the norm

Blogger Doyin Richards was surprised that an image of him styling his daughter's hair went viral online and received a lot of attention, both positive and negative. One mom wonders how we move past the wow factor to treat moms and dads as equals.

Doyin Richard/Daddy Doin Work
Image of stay at home dad and blogger Doyin Richard styling his daughter's hair, posted on his blog on October 15, 2013.

We assume that moms know the morning hustle of the household with kids; brush teeth, eat breakfast, put on fresh clothes, do hair, grab the diaper bag, kiss foreheads, etc. But do we assume that daddy knows them as well?

In many homes, the answer seems to be no. At least that’s what blogger Doyin Richards found out when he posted a photo of him styling his daughter’s hair while toting his other daughter in a carrier.

The photo of Mr. Richards that went viral online features him aptly managing his vital role as a dad. In the photo, Richards is holding his 6-month-old in a baby carrier while styling his 2-year-old’s hair. Sometimes many forget that there are many tasks dads can do – and in many cases, would love to do.

Richards originally posted this photo with an article titled, "I Have a Dream" on October 15, 2013, though just this week it has been making ripples again. Perhaps its resurgence suggests people aren't ready to stop talking about this issue of differing expectations for the genders. 

The funny thing is, if it were a mom pictured instead of a dad, no one would really care. Clearly, women and men are not considered equal in the home yet – not even close, if photos like these cause such a stir. Actually, to me, the photo seemed pretty everyday, and I was shocked to hear that there has been some negative comments about it. 

The movement for equal rights has made great strides of progress in the workplace. Just talking to women who had babies in the 70s and 80s makes me realize that the areas of maternity leave policies, pregnancy discrimination, and accommodations in offices for pumping breast milk have improved significantly since their childbearing days. Sure, there's still room for lots of improvement, but we've come a long way from women having to pump milk for their babies while hiding in a bathroom stall. 

Another important frontier for gender equality is in the home. Sure, there are many tasks that naturally fall to the mother or the father respectively, and that's okay. We need to focus on our perceptions though – that's what created the controversy around his photo. Dads being deeply involved with their kids should not only be normal, it should be completely expected. It seems like that's what Richard was conveying when he shared this photo and article.

When I was growing up, my dad was very involved in the daily grind at home. My dad relished participating in just about every aspect of parenting my sister, brother, and me. I remember countless nights when he meticulously, patiently combed through my ever-tangled hair. We would even put little foam curlers in occasionally for a special curly 'do the next day. He did thousands of loads of laundry, fished out bugs from the backyard swimming pool so we could go swimming, helped us smother sunscreen all over before going out on a beach day, rocked and sang me to sleep when I wasn't feeling well, and millions of other minute tasks I've now forgotten.

Thank God he did all these things, too – because when my mom passed on suddenly when I was 10, stepping up with all the domestic activities wasn't a completely foreign concept. Yes, taking everything on alone was challenging, and thankfully we had lots of help from family and friends, but my dad did a good job keeping things going, since he had significant experience taking care of us while mom was still around. 

Now that I'm a parent, my home life also highlights the value of both parents in raising kids. My husband is always involved with caring for our 9-month-old daughter. From day one, he has woken up to change diapers in the middle of the night, wiped tears, kissed bumped knees, spooned fed rice cereal, sang nursery rhymes, became an expert with the booger-sucking tool, pushed the stroller, etc.

I wouldn't expect anything different. No one should. Dads are incredibly patient, loving, nurturing – just as much as moms – especially when given the opportunity. Sometimes, because of our social stigma against it, there's some hesitation for them to jump in – but if encouraged, dads readily dive in to all the ups and downs of daily parenting. The journey is full of challenges – but it's always worth the effort. 

Good parents are those who are engaged with their kids every single day. They are those who do their hair, hold their hand to cross the street, and wipe their noses. Hopefully, that's both dad and mom. It's so much easier, and more fun, when it's a team effort. 

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs.

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