Dad Takes to Reddit to Share Frustrating Sexism He Faces as the Primary Caregiver

Other parents in similar situations felt his pain—and shared their frustrations, too.

An image of a father holding his daughter's hands.
Photo: Getty Images.

We often talk about the invisible mental load that parents face. If you're not familiar with the term, the mental load is the unpaid (and often unnoticed) labor that goes into parenting, like figuring out when you're low on groceries or knowing your kids' extracurricular activity schedules by heart. In a two-parent household, that load is often carried by one parent; and in the case of heterosexual couples, it tends to be the mom. Experts say shouldering that extra work can lead to burnout.

But while mothers tend to bear the brunt of the mental load of parenting, let's not forget that many dads out there are doing their fair share of children rearing, and sometimes more than their partner. That group includes one dad in particular who took to Reddit to find some emotional support.

"I'm a male, and my wife and I have 2 young kids," wrote u/compuzr. "I work part-time. She works full-time." (FYI: This is increasingly common. In 2021, the Center for American Progress reported that 41.2% of mothers were their families' sole or primary breadwinner.)

Naturally, this dad was usually the one who took the kids to the doctor. "[The doctor or nurse practitioner and I] talk for maybe two minutes," OP continued. Then, they disappear, and I go on to get the prescription or whatever is needed."

Doctors' appointments can feel rushed for anyone. But here's the issue: His wife doesn't get the same cold shoulder from those same folks. "[She and the providers] talk and talk and talk," he said in the post. "A hundred questions are asked and answered. They discuss the kids' health and development in depth."

The same thing happens at daycare, he relayed. "The women there are always lovely to me," the man wrote. "But they never talk or discuss the kids. I do 80%+ of the pick-ups and drop-offs. And I initiate chit-chat and ask questions of the child care providers. But still our talks are quick and perfunctory. And whenever my wife does the odd pick-up and drop-off, she learns all sorts of things that they'll never tell me. And sometimes it's really stuff I want to know, like problems the kids are having."

He's also left out of the loop about playdates. "[Our local moms] text each other all the time," he said. "My kids play with theirs all the time. But when there's a play date, you know how I know? They text my wife. At work. And then she texts me. They all know I do most of the childcare."

Needless to say, he felt upset.

"It's a quiet sexism, but it is persistent," he wrote. "I don't feel like being confrontational about it… but it is frustrating."

Others could relate. "A few years ago, my daughter had a doctor's appointment coming up. I phone the office… [and] get her appointment booked," one father recalled. "Then the woman on the phone says, 'Alright, now please let your wife know that when she brings your daughter in, she has to...'"

It justifiably bothered him. "I am a single Dad [and] have been since the kid was born," the commenter said. "Her mother's name wasn't even on the file."

Another single dad empathized. "I'm a single dad. I am, of course, the emergency contact listed for my daughter," he wrote. "The school rings my sister instead."

In one shocking instance, a divorced father was forced to provide paperwork just to get his children proper medical care.

"I had to show my kid's pediatrician that I had all decision-making authority over my children's health care (and everything else) by showing them the final divorce decree," he revealed. "Not just the one page pertaining, but the entire document including the parenting (visitation) plan. They were not going to let me override Mom without that information, but they were going to let Mom do whatever she wanted without the same documentation."

The eye-opening post was a good reminder that families come in all shapes and sizes. Assuming that every household includes a mother or even two parents can be hurtful to adults and kids, as one teen who lost her mother to cancer explained in a viral TikTok video.

Even if a family does include both a mom and a dad, this bias presents plenty of problems for all parents, one commenter noted.

"I get you," they wrote. "I stayed with my baby in [the] hospital for four days, but I'm the full-time worker [and] my husband is the stay-at-home dad, so all follow-up appointments would be with him. It was an apparently unbelievable prospect. Every time I asked what my husband had to do, where he should go, etc., they would revert to the 'then you do this and that.'"

These stories are far from uncommon. The thing is, how we talk about dads in relation to parenting is important, as it affects the burden placed on mothers, too. When our culture starts to think of fathers as equal parents and stops calling mothers for everything, it empowers men and lightens the load for women.

The bottom line: Both parents can and should play a pivotal role in a child's upbringing. Let's not value the contributions of one more than the other based on gender alone.

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