The Parent Participation Award

The internet is swooning with pictures of Mark Zuckerberg’s leap into fatherhood. My Facebook feed alone is filled with: “Aww he’s so awesome!” “Dad of the Year!” “A billionaire who is still able to find special moments with his cutie!” It goes on…

There are certain things I really appreciate about his public displays of parental affection:

  • He made sure his company had a humane parental leave program, and he took advantage of it.
  • I appreciate the example he set for other working parents and hopefully the companies they work for to address the pathetic leave policies most US companies have. (Thankfully, I don’t work for one of them).

Here’s my problem…

(Not you Zuck, rock on with daddyhood!)

My problem is that he’s portrayed as as a hero for being a present parent. That’s shouldn’t be worthy of a medal, that should just get him on the team. The team of people it takes, whatever that looks like in a family, to raise a child.

I came home from work one day and paid my husband a compliment when he made dinner for our family and gave our daughter a bath. I told him I appreciate how supportive he is of my career and that I felt so lucky to have one of “those husbands” who was so evolved and helped out. I’ll never forget his response: “ We both work, we both take care of our daughter, we both take care of our house. It doesn’t make me more modern, that’s our job.” The women’s equal rights parade in my head came to an abrupt halt. He’s right.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be thankful or polite. It’s always nice to be told that you’re appreciated and to reciprocate the feeling to our partners. Zuck is clearly a glowingly proud papa to his baby girl. With that being said — There is no participation award in parenthood. Being an active parent, that’s our job.

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