Cliché Handbooks For New Dads Are Offensive, Not Cute

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new dadI know we have all seen them before, and maybe you have even purchased one as a cutesy, tongue-in-cheek baby shower gift. But I’m here to tell you something you may not want to hear, some profound truths that may fill you full of regret at ever thinking commercialized “new dad” handbooks were a good gift idea. Kitschy new dad handbooks are not cute. They are offensive and continue to reinforce the tired, bumbling dad trope.

Most young parents I know embrace modern gender roles and share parenting duties 50/50, as much as possible. This is the same balance I have with my husband now, although I have to admit that it took me until my second kid to willingly relinquish my mommy martyr status and split all housework and baby duty right down the middle.

We modern parents are the same people who criticize idiot dads portrayed on TV, so why would we ever spend cash money on an insulting gift like a Practical New Dad Handbook, as described on Reddit?

The book is called Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads and it is AWESOME!

The way it’s written is fun yet informative (for example, chapters entitled “Why Your Partner May Not be Functioning Properly” and “Bidding Farewell to the Breast”) and it’s got really wonderful how-to diagrams (swaddling, diaper changing, etc.).

We are so happy to sit down with our baby books or read baby blogs but if your husband is anything like mine, he’s still a little more interested in finishing the bathroom remodel than learning how to relieve a baby of gas. This book is aimed at men so it’s waaaaay more interesting to him than the Mayo Clinic guide or Please, ladies, check it out and maybe suggest it to your man (or just surprise him with a copy). My husband bought it for his kindle on Saturday morning and he finished reading it tonight.

I’m sorry, but I would have never bought my husband that cleverly packaged pile of bullshit when I was pregnant. I too was a clueless new mother who didn’t know how to swaddle or how often to change a diaper. I too had to figure out all of the new and overwhelming aspects of parenting for myself. Sadly, my uterus didn’t equip me with an innate parenting instinct.

So, as new parents, my husband and I were both in it together. He was just as capable as I was of googling every alarmist article on BabyCenter to figure out what would and would not kill an infant, how hot bath water should be by testing with the point of your elbow, and when is really and truly the best time to start solids, all myths aside.

My husband legitimately cared about these things because he was a new parent, not just a new dad. He is also infinitely better at googling than I am, so it was great to have his wisdom and ingenuity on my side. He was just as capable, or even more so, at figuring out what to do with a brand-new baby—Full House and Three Men and a Baby stereotypes be damned.

I know most people who are recovering from their shame of purchasing one of these cliché handbooks would say: Lighten up! I get what you’re saying, really I do. If some well-meaning friend or family member bought my husband this handbook as a new dad present, I would thank them kindly. But as a general rule, stereotypical books like this aren’t doing new dads any favors. New dads can be just as good parents as new moms, if we don’t paint them into a corner by implying they are idiots.

(Image: milosljubicic/Shutterstock)