“You’d Never Say That to a Woman.” Keira Knightley Believes We Should Stop Praising Dads for Basic Parenting Tasks
Today, more than ever, men are involved in parenting. Yet, still, fathers are not seen as full-value parents but rather as babysitters who are praised for the basic attention they give to their kids. On the other hand, women’s parenting does not get proper credit. Keira Knightly, a British actress and mother to 2 daughters, spoke out about why this distorted perspective on parenting negatively affects both fathers and mothers.
We at Bright Side were impressed by the honesty and courage Knightly put into her statement and we want to share it with our readers.
She has always advocated for equal parenting
Keira Knightly has advocated for equal parental responsibilities for a long time. In one of her interviews, Knightly spoke out about the unequal treatment mothers and fathers get from society while contributing to parenting.
Answering the ongoing question that working mothers often get, which is, how to balance work and motherhood, Knightly, instead of giving dozens of existing hacks, asked back, “Why do we not engage men in that conversation? Why do we not expect a working man to be looking after their children as much as their partner is? Why do we assume that they don’t feel guilty about not spending enough time with their children as well?”
Fathers seem to be praised for the minimum effort
The times when women had to prioritize childcare over a career have passed. More single women see careers as the main priority in their lives. Though, when working mothers do contribute to their children, people still tend to take the mother’s parenting for granted — as something normal and self-evident. While fathers, who are expected to prioritize their careers, are seen spending time with kids and are praised for even a minimal contribution.
“It’s really rare to see a guy at a children’s [daycare], and if he is, people say, ’Ooh, what a lovely dad. Look at him looking after his own children,’” Knightley notes. “You would never say that to a woman.”
“We really need to start asking men about what their role within the childcare situation is, how much of that they take on, and expect them to take on that responsibility,” Knightly states. “We expect women to take on that responsibility, and yet for some reason, we give men a free pass.”
Many other mothers also see the issue
Knightly’s position is shared by many mothers who manage to combine a career with being good mothers. “Men continue to be placed on pedestals after women built those pedestals for them to stand on,” says Candace Ganger, a mother of 2.
“While I’m the parent who has remained at home, caring for our children and feeding them emotionally, physically, and spiritually, their father is praised for simply showing up to see them. All parents should be recognized for their efforts, regardless of the situation, but these different expectations are dangerous and unfair.”
This perspective diminishes the role of caring fathers as well.
Fathers themselves support the idea that we shouldn’t treat their contribution to parenting as something extraordinary. “Dads don’t babysit” is a movement started several years ago that stands for fathers being treated not as babysitters or people that occasionally help with kids but as full-value parents.
“I’ve had people ask me, ’Are you looking after the kids today?’ Or say ’I can tell you dressed the baby today,’” said Al Ferguson, a dad whose t-shirt caption started the whole “Dads don’t babysit” conversation. “It’s just out of date. The modern dad is more active in their family life than they were historically. It’s out of date to assume the mom is the primary caregiver.”
Have you ever faced unfair judgements about your parenting? How do you deal with them?