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  • Dr. Shari-ann James

The Double Standard of Just Showing Up

Mom takes kids to the store with backpack in tow filled with water bottles, snacks, and toys. Kids start whining.

-1 pt (this mom needs to try harder)

Dad walks into store, arms swinging freely, with kids still in PJs.

+3 pts (this dad is devoting precious time to be with his kids)

Mom wakes kids, dressed them, feeds them, combs their hair and takes them to school.

0 pts (that’s what a mom is supposed to do)

Dad drives kid to school and kisses her goodbye.

+5 pts (loving dad involved in his child's life. More should be like him)

As a collective, society views the roles of moms and dads through different lenses and assesses them using different metrics. Not that any mother or father is asking to be validated by society, but it happens nonetheless. Yet, the way we view the roles of mothers especially, leaves little room for a mother to be great or even good, and many ways for them to fall short. Mothers are expected to meet or exceed our notions of traditional motherhood, whereas fathers get points for showing up – sometimes literally just showing up. Think of how you react when you see a father out alone with his kids. Unless he is outright neglectful or negligent, he gets points and society’s adoration. So much is expected of mothers that there is very little they can do to be elevated, and with every flaw, fault, and criticism they are diminished.

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