Is Dad Ever The Default Parent?


parentWe’ve heard it a million times before: Moms are true superheroes. According to Luke Bryan, “all mamas ought to qualify for sainthood,” so it’s fairly common knowledge that moms make the world go ‘round. But as my kids continue to grow and develop, I can’t help but ask myself, “How did I automatically become the default parent?”  

My initial thought was that moms have nine months before their babies arrive earthside to bond and get to know their child. Maybe within that time frame, a stronger emotional bond develops, which continues to grow once they arrive, giving moms a so-called “head start” on building that relationship with the child. But then I know for a fact that there are families where the dad is the go-to parent, and part of me is wishing, “How can we shift that for our family?”  

Don’t get me wrong–I adore my children something fierce, and I am a big, sappy puddle when they crawl up in my lap, grab my face and tell me they love me. However, on some occasions, I would really enjoy it if they would intentionally choose my husband over me to tackle bedtime, run errands or help them with something. Except for every single time, it’s always “Mommy, I want you.” My husband tries to step in, but it often just causes more chaos and push back, so we usually lose that battle. Maybe therein lies our issue.  Mom is always the default, and dad is the backup plan.  

Women, by nature, seem to have an innate ability to take over where they are needed, and maybe we have created this situation ourselves. I know that when a kiddo is sick, I am the first person the school will call. I am the one who usually ends up taking our kids to the doctor, dentist and various other appointments. I am the one who buys them clothes, knows what size shoes they wear, and schedules haircuts and bath nights. So, are there any dads out there in a two-parent household that do all of those things? Maybe my husband and I are doing it all wrong.   

Is this a learned behavior? How do other families manage this idea of a default parent? I know that many families out there actually have dad as their default parent, so I guess I am just wondering how that happened? As a family, was it a conscious decision that dad would take over the primary parenting duties? Or did it just occur naturally?

As you can see, I have many more questions and almost no answers yet. I find it so interesting and know that I am not alone in my curiosity about how this happened.  The question then remains: how do we change it?