Jenny Mollen, actress and a New York Times best-selling author, recently opened up to her Instagram followers about her expectations around raising her two sons with her husband of 10 years, Jason Biggs. And in her typical, no-holds-barred style, she let everyone know she doesn’t feel #blessed that Biggs is an involved parent.
“People often ask me if I feel lucky that @biggsjason is such an involved dad and the answer is, no,” wrote Mollen in her post. “I expect him to be a good father! That’s why I had kids with him.”
“This double standard is antiquated and insulting,” she continued. “If your partner isn’t hands on, he shouldn’t have hands.”
She’s Not Alone
While Mollen seemed to be expecting some backlash (she ended her post with the hashtag #comeatme, after all), her post received thousands of likes and comments from people praising her honesty and expressing similar beliefs and experiences.
“People often say this to me and it drives me crazy,” wrote Instagram user @anniepants36. “My response is always ‘I wouldn’t have chosen him otherwise.’ 50/50 all the time.”
“I get annoyed when people ask where my kids are the rare moment I get out without them…uhhh they’re with their dad?! And NO, a dad parenting their child is NOT babysitting,” wrote Instagram user @denholmlinda.
Dads got in on the conversation as well, letting people know they also don’t expect special praise.
“THANK YOU!!! I am not doing anything special. I am doing my part,” wrote one dad, Instagram user @frankscarpinato.
“Ridiculous to give credit to fathers for doing something they’re supposed to do,” commented Instagram user @_mr._jefferson_. “I hate being called a good dad, it’s super awkward. I’m just ‘a’ dad and a dad should love their kids and show them without any recognition for it,” he continued.
Parenting Is Changing, Expectations Not So Much
While people are certainly changing their views on equal parenting, expectations for women and men are still catching up.
As Mollen said, “For women, it’s expected to love and protect and show up for soccer practice. For men, an hour or two alone with the kids on the weekend somehow warrants a trophy. (Or at least a World’s Greatest Dad mug.)”
According to the Pew Research Center, dads today are just as likely to see parenting as central to their identity as moms. They’re also parenting more, about triple the childcare time they were spending in 1965.
However, if you look a little deeper into those statistics, you’ll also see that women are still spending more time parenting than men (14 hours a week versus 8). The same study also found that 53 percent of Americans say mothers do a better job than fathers.
Let us not also forget the mental load mothers often carry with endless family to-do lists. A study done by the American Sociological Review found that mothers in dual-earner households spent 10 more hours a week multitasking than fathers. So, while parenting time for dads may be increasing, a mother’s workload still typically includes more unpaid work like house cleaning, scheduling kids’ playdates and the like.
Sociologists agree that mothers take on much of the “worry work.” This could include remembering to organize activities, making appointments and getting everyone where they need to go.
Hopefully, families like Mollen’s being open about equal parenting can help move the conversation forward. In the meantime, we look forward to more of her honest, hilarious takes on family and life.
Do you practice equal parenting in your household? What does it mean to you?