One of the worst parenting stereotypes I can imagine is to assume that moms are the ones who do all the whining. As a woman, I know there are certain character traits that are often shared by both sexes but somehow get attributed much more to women than they are to men, and "complaining" is chief among them. Who among us doesn't know a man who complains profusely about stupid shit? I can think of several men who throw up their hands when something occurs outside of their realm of control, but for some reason society doesn't label these men as whiners; it labels them as authoritative and commanding, which almost reads as a compliment. When a mom complains on Facebook about someone not acknowledging her baby's presence, for instance, she's considered grating and unbearable, whereas when a dad does the same thing, people think it's "protective" and shows familial devotion.
Because society reinforces this perception, the dads themselves can become more obnoxious and confident in their complaining, either by coming across as excessively aggressive ("If that school bus driver is impatient with my princess one more time, he'll wish he was never born!") or as annoyingly sentimental ("To the woman at the coffeeshop who glared at my crying son: Your comfort is not my concern. My concern is making my son feel safe and loved."). When a mom complains, she's treated as a "typical woman," but when a dad complains, there's a decent chance he'll be regarded as a hero just for caring enough to express his frustration. It's a disparity that stems from mothers being considered primary caregivers, which is how society has come to call dads who watch their own kids at home "babysitters." When moms get irritated by petty grievances, we mock their sensitivity. When dads do it, we might praise them for being so committed to their kids.
It's laughable how differently we might treat parents depending on who's doing the whining, when in reality, moms and dads are all bemoaning the same gripes. So in an effort to continue the conversation about "bridging the overshare gender gap," I wanted to take a look at the woe is dad. We all know a woe is dad -- I can think of many, all of whom have been hidden in my Facebook newsfeed due to their nonstop venting and pontificating -- and it's time to take the spotlight off whiny moms and place it directly onto the bitchy dads. Let's check out some examples, and don't forget to check out the other two columns in the series thus far about daddyjackers and sactidaddies!
1. Woe Is Uptight (?) Dad
While I do understand why some people take to business pages on Facebook to share concerns over product or service quality, I will never understand why those people think that it will actually solve anything. If you're posting on the wall of an independent business's page, maybe that will make some kind of impact, but on a larger corporation's page, unless you're one of thousands of people posting about the same incident, you may as well be talking to a robot. Social media managers like "Karen" who represent global brands like Lululemon don't have the power or resources to do much other than forward complaints to an inbox that no one really reads.
Which is why, when all of that is taken into consideration, John's bizarre complaint holds no water at all. We're talking about a music festival that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on, and the pertinent sleep schedule of a family that happens to live within earshot. I don't think John is being rude, necessarily, just ignorant of how the world works. Sometimes it takes a music festival or a parade or the Fourth of July to remind us that we are not the center of the universe. And that's not a bad thing! It just sucks for all of the people fielding complaints. What do you want to bet John not only called the cops and made a noise complaint, but also managed to post this exact same message on the wall of every sponsor of the event?
2. Woe Is Sanctidad
Oh, woe is Matt! POOR MATT, who has deemed himself the Definer Of Date Night, dictating any and all date night terms and conditions as they pertain directly to his life and lack of post-baby date nights. How hard it must be for Matt to negotiate the fact that date night for parents costs a shitload more money and requires precise planning, whereas date night for non-parents just involves a quick "Hey, want to see a movie and grab some dinner later?" via text. Life sucks sometimes!!! But um -- NEWSFLASH, Matt: Just because a couple has no children doesn't mean that every night is date night, unless you consider frequent watching of 'Law & Order' marathons in sweatpants to be "dates." But if that were the case, I'm guessing Matt would join the "date night is every night" club himself, and then what would he complain about?
3. Woe Is Baby Contest Dad
I love this submission because it's illuminated me to the fact that some couples not only have joint Facebook accounts, but also that some couples choose to define themselves by their marital status in separate Facebook accounts. "Brad N Roxanne" = Brad, and "Roxanne N Brad" = Roxanne, OBVS, which is beyond silly. Also beyond silly: Brad's exclamation point abuse, his insistence that his friends should give a shit about a stupid baby contest, and his assertion that friendships should hinge on Likes and up-votes.
Funnily enough, he's not the only one.
Bradley is much more reasonable than Brad N Roxanne, but he's still experiencing EBB (Extreme Butthurt Behavior) over something as frivolous as a cutest kid contest. Haven't we already discussed how those contests are always rigged? Parents, a little tip from me to you: If you don't ever enroll your kids in a dumb contest, you'll never feel the crushing despair of "losing" the contest. You can just know that your kid is cute all on your own, without any Likes or fanfare, and go about your life like a person whose worth (and baby's cuteness) isn't measured by social media. Otherwise, you'll go from casually filling out a contest form to publicly whining about how disappointing your friends are.
4. Woe Is Daddyjacker
According to the submitter, "This is a submission from the official Facebook page of my old apartment complex. A father used the page's MLK status to express his displeasure for his daughter's current roommate situation. I found it kinda funny." So do I, submitter! I'm assuming that Andy is the father of a teenager or young adult, and his woe is daddyjacking skills are clearly top notch. It's not every day you find a grown man hijacking a sincere status update about MLK that was posted by an apartment complex. Impressive.
5. Woe Is Daddy Drama
Jeff has some problems, and one of them is that he's being ignored by his baby's mama. According to the submitter, Jeff "met a woman and purposely had a baby with her within 6 months of knowing her. Turns out the woman was batshit crazy, they broke up before the baby was born and now she doesn't let Jeff have access to the kid unless she feels like it." Sounds fun! And sad. And like something that shouldn't be aired or discussed publicly. It's too bad Jeff seems to disagree with that viewpoint.
All of these important and effective messages were posted within an hour of each other. The submitter wrote, "Jeff isn't friends with his ex on Facebook, but he knows that other people he knows are and will tell her about it. Lets face it, baiting the crazy lady isn't exactly a sure fire way to get access to your kid!" Jeff, bro -- I think it's time to seek some legal advice and therapy. Take the woe is dad offline. I once knew a guy who did this with his ex and it got much, much worse before it got better. You can't petition Facebook and passive-aggressively badger someone in order to see your child. That's not how social media works.
6. Woe Is Angry Dad
Finally, we have Brian, the example that most embodies the differences between woe is mom and woe is dad. A woe is mom might be a whiner, to be sure. She might kvetch about trivial things like a jackass neighbor who's loud at night, or a lawn mower that interrupts nap time during the day, but one thing that sets her apart is that her friends probably won't recommend that she kick her neighbor's ass. It's a strategy employed most frequently by dudes -- dudes who stand by their bros no matter what -- and it's the easiest way to nip a woe is dad in the bud. When in doubt, comment with "Beat his ass." It's the surest way to shut a woe is dad up while still being on his side. Trust me.