The (other) Default Parent

Today my Spider Man Underoos are in a bunch over this post on the ever-reliable Huffington Post called “The Default Parent“. Forwarded to me by Mrs. Nostrikethat, I had my suspicions on what the post might contain– and I was right.

Perhaps you’re wondering what a “default parent” is?

Are you the default parent? If you have to think about it, you’re not. You’d know. Trust me. The default parent is the one responsible for the emotional, physical and logistical needs of the children. Spoiler alert: It’s typically the one with the uterus.

Hurray! I am not responsible for the emotional, physical, or logistical needs of my children!

chris_rock

I would make a plea for these kinds of articles to stop, but without stories about interrupted bathroom time the Mommy Blog economy would collapse.

HOWEVER, I have a hilarious idea for a blog post, it’s called “Letting Women Out of the Kitchen Makes Them Uppity”.

dnm6n

The Rules of the Games

I wasn’t particularly athletic as a kid, but even I managed to lace up some cleats and gamely play a few seasons of soccer. Team sports and games are foundational experiences in a boy’s life. The lessons we learn as boys on the field help shape our worldview as men.

1) Support your teammates. We don’t trash talk the guys on our side, even if they’re not very good.

2) Win or lose together. The team wins or the team loses, and we all contribute to that effort.

3) Be a good sport. Graceful in defeat, humble in victory. No one likes a whiner.

4) Play your position. You have to stay in the zone you were assigned. If you’re on the left side, stay on the left side. If you’re a running back, don’t block for the QB. No one person can do it all, not even LeBron James.

5) Every position is equally important. The corollary to rule number 2. We all have a role to play on the team. The goalie is no more important than the striker, the quarterback no more than the kicker.

These are not exclusive to men, but you would be hard pressed to find a functioning adult male who hasn’t internalized them to some degree. Sure, we have our sociopaths too, but if you want to understand at a fundamental level how a man looks at the world and relationships, it’s through the lense of these rules.

This notion of the Default Parent concept breaks them.

Every single one.

It’s offensive to me as because the core premise is that the parenting roles are separate, unequal, and favor the Uterus-Americans when everything I believe is that while the roles have different challenges, they are both equal in importance and vital to the success of the Family Team.

So my plea to you all is don’t be the kid on the team that puts down everyone else, complains they are carrying the team, and is never in position.

Or you’re going to lose.

By default.


Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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4 responses to “The (other) Default Parent”

  1. R.L. Saunders says :

    It felt like she was sorta going for satire and sorta not, because idk, maybe she wrote it when she was upset? Or maybe it just wasn’t that funny (to me), and I like my satire funny? Who knows. But yeah, it was a swing and a miss for me, too.

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  2. AC says :

    Amen to that. Two parents = offense + defense. Both are needed to win the big game.

    In sports the offense usually gets a bit more of the limelight as everyone likes a flashy slam dunk or touchdown. But that just means that the defense either needs a) a better advertising campaign, or b) to take more pride in the fact that they are the unsung hero in the family. For example, Marines are the only branch of service who instruct their service members _not_ to wear their medals 99% of the time. And Marines are given the utmost respect simply for being Marines.

    Any “Marine” who isn’t proud of what they are should join the Air Force, become a pilot, and go to Top Gun.

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  3. Karen says :

    Ready for a long comment, ’cause I love your posts so much?… Actually, we had a lot of fun with that Huffington post. OK, I had a lot of fun with that post… I didn’t read it as a put down of the other team member at *all* (to use your analogy) but a rant about the complete sucking up of your life that being “the default parent” is, and she defines what she means (and points out that her post wasn’t a put-down of her team mate, btw). Out of necessity, one person usually becomes the go-to parent for all the daily operational needs of running the house and the schedules and keeping everyone alive until bedtime. If one parent stays home, that’ll be the one. Once you get that role, it will take over every moment of every day, the other team member is happy to stay out of the way and ignorant, and — because they’ve been conditioned to since babyhood, the kids will come to you first for almost everything from form-filling to toenail clipping to wiping dog poop off the bottom of their sneakers to social advice to where the missing memory card is — and it’s a long time until you can hand it back, whether you “go back to work” or not. It’s normal, it can be exasperating, and it’s funny. My good friend and her wife laugh about it, too — same situation and both have uteruses (uteri?). Even when I’m working 40 or more hours a week, I’m still the one to make the dentist appointments or go to teacher conferences, and I am the repository of all family-needs-management information. After 28 years, and 17 years with kids, my husband still asks me for the name of our pediatrician, his own doctor, our bank account number, or which internet provider we have and he’s hard pressed to name a teacher one of the kids currently has. I’m still the one who schedules appliance repairs, knows what sizes the kids wear, and pays the utility bills. But he’s the default “other activities parent,” in charge of everything from scouting weekends to art projects. And he’s the laundry and dump guy most of the time, and he makes everyone breakfast in the morning, so it’s all good.

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