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 mothers face. If you're not familiar, 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. Experts say that managing this load can lead to burnout.

But while mothers tend to handle most of that load alone, we shouldn't forget that many dads out there are also doing their fair share when it comes to raising children, often putting in more effort than their partners. That 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 isn't remotely unheard of. In 2013, Pew Research reported that 40 percent of mothers were their families' breadwinner.)

Because of their schedules, this dad wrote, he was usually the one to take the kids to their health care provider when they were sick or needed a wellness visit. The problem was, whenever he went, he felt like he was shorted on time and attention by the provider, possibly because of his gender.

"[The health care provider and I] talk for maybe two minutes," the Reddit poster explained. "Then, they disappear, and I go on to get the prescription or whatever is needed. And it's always a completely different story when my wife takes the kids. They talk and talk and talk. A hundred questions are asked and answered. They discuss the kids' health and development in depth."

The same thing happened at daycare for Dad. "The women there are always lovely to me," he 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 and 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 even found himself left out of the loop about playdates and other parent-to-parent conversations.

"[Our local moms] text each other all the time," the poster 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 pretty upset.

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

Other posters 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 ...'"

"I am a single Dad [and] have been since the kid was born," they pointed out, sounding frustrated. "Her mother's name wasn't even on the file."

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

In one shocking instance, a divorced father was forced to provide paperwork just to get his children 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 Reddit 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 alike, as one teen who lost her mother to cancer explained in a recent viral TikTok video.

Even if a family does include both a mom and a dad, this attitude hurts them, too, as one commenter pointed out.

"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,'" the Redditor said.

These commenters' stories are far from uncommon. The thing is, how we talk about dads in relation to their parenting responsibilities 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 puts less pressure on female caregivers.

Both parents 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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