And this year’s patronizing parenting book award goes to…

The other day my wife asked me to check out a book from the library on toddler issues, so after ‘toddler time’ was over I checked out “The Toddler Care Book – A Complete Guide from 1-5 Years Old.”  There’s some good stuff in there, but like all parenting books it has its slant.  Particularly noticeable to me is its condescension toward Dads.  Every other chapter ends with a section titled “Dad’s Role” (as if parenting isn’t really the domain of Dads, so here’s some pointers when Mom needs a break.)

My favorite lines are in the “Your Young Toddler” section of “Dad’s Role.”  Here it advises you to take your toddler to the park, to the pool, on a walk around the block, and to the bathtub (all activities that give Mom a break, I might add).

At a park it advises that, “While playing at the park,some safety rules have to be followed.  Your toddler is still learning to walk, so she may not be as good a climber as you think she is.”  ‘Cause let’s face it, Dad’s are idiots.

And at the pool, “Despite liking the water, your child cannot swim – she can only just walk – so hold onto her tightly in and around the pool.  Pay attention and don’t slack off.”  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anyone toss a baby in a pool thinking they’d be able to swim.

Next, “Dad’s need to find at least one particular activity or chore to claim as their own, where they are the go-to guy.  One suggestion is the bath.  It’s easy, especially as your child can now sit and stand independently.”  I’m starting to get a pretty clear picture of the author’s vision of Dad’s: reckless bungling ogres who can’t be trusted to be alone with their children.

If you doubt me this next line on a guide to playing at the park will seal the deal:  “Bring diapers and lots and lots of wipes.  While most moms can clean the messiest bums with only a quarter of a wipe, dads may need a few more.”  Wow.  Next time Mt. Vesuvius goes off in Josie’s diaper I’m going to pass her and a quarter of a wipe to Sarah and just shrug me shoulders, “Hey, this is your department – I’d just make a mess of it.”  Then I’ll drag my knuckles over to the tv, turn on some football and shout at her to bring me a beer.

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9 thoughts on “And this year’s patronizing parenting book award goes to…

  1. What really surprised me after I was finished reading your entertaining blog post about this book is that it was written by a man?? What’s he doing writing a book about toddlers & parenting if he didn’t really even raise his own children, let alone have a very high opinion of himself doing a good job?…

    • Yeah, I know AND he’s Canadian! That’s what really surprised me. I like on the ‘about the author’ blurb its says: “The father of two young children, he knows only too well the challenges a parent faces during the toddler years.” I like to imagine that, kind of like John Gray, the divorced author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, he’s awful at being a father and assumes all other dad’s are too.

  2. This is my beef with a lot of parenting books with a “dad” section. I understand that parenting differs with each parent to an extent, but seriously, dads shouldn’t be babysitters. Although I won’t lie and say there isn’t a market for that book; I knew a few moms who would complain that dads weren’t doing their fair share. Still, books like these should scrap the dad section and instead lay down how dads can be equal co-parents instead.

    • Yeah, I know there are plenty of Dad’s out there whose response to their parenting shortfall is “Well YOU’RE the one who wanted to have a baby,” but how many of them grew up with the cultural expectation that is reflected in these books that parenting isn’t a ‘man thing?’ I don’t know how to change culture, but there is a chicken and egg question here. Any healthy woman who has ever felt fat should understand the very powerful influence culture has had on influencing their self-image. It works on guys too – trust me, it took awhile for me to feel comfortable wearing a baby bjorn in public, having been a construction worker.

      On another more practical note – if you’re a guy reading a parenting book, you’re probably not the type that needs advice on bringing snacks to the park. I’m not sure these books understand their audience.

      • “On another more practical note – if you’re a guy reading a parenting book, you’re probably not the type that needs advice on bringing snacks to the park.”

        Ha! Excellent point. Well, I’m glad there are dads like you who are willing to don the bjorn. That’s really what moves cultural shifts and hopefully make parenting a more gender-balanced job.

  3. And the writter was a man? Makes yo woner if he was mocking the complaints of most woman? Stil,,,,that is crazy that he made such idiotic comments!
    I will say, speaking from my personal experience, that some of the cmments were right on the mark for my husband. I would assume that he is not the only one due to the comments made.
    Maybe u are just and exception to the “rule”?

  4. Pingback: Dads are co-parents, not babysitters | sleeping should be easy

  5. Pingback: My Favorite: Pregnancy Books « oh darling love

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