Raising a Family Without Parentsplaining

The term “mansplaining” became popular about 10 years ago as a way to describe how a man condescendingly explains something to a woman, often about a topic which she knows equal or sometimes more about.

It’s a fair term that seems reasonable to use when necessary. I mean, let’s call a spade a spade, right?

But it admittedly works the other way around, and I hardly hear its counterpart “womansplaining” uttered, yet the action has no doubt been in existence since the beginning of fatherhood, as most men learn when becoming a father.

Just by way of being a man, it’s easy to get profiled by the other gender. Dads have heard it all. They never help out around the house. They can’t cook. They aren’t smart shoppers. They’re lazy. They don’t know how to hold the baby.

father holding baby
Image via Flickr/ anieto2k

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Admit it moms, have you ever corrected the way your husband puts on a diaper, gives baths, cooks, or grocery shops? I once saw a female-produced video about a wife who left the baby with her husband for the first time. Not only is the premise gender-biased (imagine someone producing a video with roles reversed), but the wife pressed before leaving:  “Are you sure you’ll be all right alone?”

The wife had good intentions, no doubt, but it wasn’t being helpful. It was patronizing. The husband may not have given birth to the child, but that made him no less of a capable, competent parent than his wife.

A friend of mine was once speaking to a room full of pregnant mothers at a conference. He asked them how many expected their husbands to read a book to learn more about what a mom goes through during the pregnancy and becoming a mother.

All of the moms raised their hands.

Then he asked them how many have read a book on fatherhood to learn more about what their husband goes through during the pregnancy and becoming a father. What he meant by a book is a book, not one chapter about dads in a pregnancy book, nor a magazine or internet story.

Two moms raised their hands.

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His eye-opening story reminded me that moms aren’t any more skilled at parenting just because they carried the baby, and that all of this ‘splaining could be circumvented if we started to understand each other better.

There’s nothing wrong with explaining something to someone if they don’t understand it. The problem is when we assume.

The real lesson is that we could all do better by simply listening and understanding one another more.


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Raising a Family Without Parentsplaining

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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