Actress calls out 'insulting' parenting double standard

Jenny Mollen is receiving praise from mothers online after calling out an “insulting” double standard when it comes to parenting.

Author and actress, Jenny Mollen. Image via Getty Images.
Author and actress, Jenny Mollen. Image via Getty Images.

The actress recently took to Instagram to discuss parenting alongside her husband of 10 years, “American Pie” actor Jason Biggs.

People often ask me if I feel lucky that @biggsjason is such an involved dad and the answer is, no,” she wrote. “I expect him to be a good father! That’s why I had kids with him. Nobody would ever say to a man, “Wow, you are so lucky your wife feeds and bathes your children.”

As the parents to sons, four-year-old Sid, and nine-month old, Lazlo, Mollen is conscious not to raise her children adhering to gender stereotypes.

For women, it’s expected to love and protect and show up for soccer practice,” she said. “For men, an hour or two alone with the kids on a weekend somehow warrants a trophy. (Or at least a World’s Greatest Dad mug) This double standard is antiquated and insulting. If your partner isn’t hands on, he shouldn’t have hands.”

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Followers were quick to applaud the actress for reminding women of what they deserve from their partner.

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Thank you! I feel like I’ve been having this argument since I was 5 years old. Same goes for cooking, cleaning etc. Like we are all supposed to swoon just because our guy is doing his fair share,” one person commented. “Women need to stop telling other women they are lucky…instead, they should start expecting the same.”

Joanna Seidel, a Toronto-based family therapist explained to Global News that the public’s praise for fathers performing normal, parenting tasks is directly related to society’s inability to accept changing gender roles.inst

In general, our traditional values are shifting. Men are becoming much more involved in raising the children and helping with household tasks,” Seidel said. “But women have traditionally been in the roles of taking care of the children and the home, so it’s considered novel when men do it.”

Although the idea may have been novel for a father to be hands-on 50, 20 or even 10 years ago, Seidel said we’re moving in the right direction of normalizing an involved father that equally shoulders the responsibilities of child rearing and domestic life.

“The only reason fathers are being celebrated for carrying out ordinary tasks is because to some people, it’s an anomaly,” Seidel explained. “But we’re moving towards a real transformation where it’ll be much more expected from fathers.”

Jenny Mollen and husband, Jason Biggs. Image via Getty Images.
Jenny Mollen and husband, Jason Biggs. Image via Getty Images.

It’s not just women who are calling out this antiquated double standard.

In an essay for Parents magazine, Ross McCammon shared his first-hand experience of receiving praise for simply being in public with his son.

I’ve received heaps of unwarranted acclaim for the decidedly ordinary skills and devotion I regularly exhibit as a father, performing feats such as … carrying my son on my shoulders (“What a great dad you are”),” he wrote. “Doing something that seems to stop him from crying (Nice job!) Taking Theo and his friend to the other end of the playground so their moms can talk by themselves (“Good man!”).

McCammon recognizes that for his wife, performing the same tasks with their son go without praise, and calls for the perpetuation of this behaviour to end.

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“We need to move beyond the idea that a dad’s presence alone makes him great at the job,” he writes. “It’s condescending and undervalues the importance of a father’s regular engagement. Spending time with your child does not make you great. Strapping a baby to your chest and leaving the house does not make you great.”

McCammon believes a father’s attention, devotion and commitment to raising healthy and happy children should be a given.

What makes a father great is what makes a mother great,” he concluded. “Greatness is what happens when no one is around to congratulate you. It’s hidden, quiet, and only occasionally (and incidentally) public. Others might have a hunch that a father is a great parent, but only two people know it for sure: the dad and his kid.”

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