This post marks a change in the direction of my blog to one where I share personal views about almost everything. I want to begin with something that gets reactions but I do not intend to anger or insult anyone. It might surprise a lot of people to discover that a man, a dad, is the author of a “Selfish Men” post, but I can explain.
We All Escape…right?
This post should not be taking out of the context of a very specific situation and scenario that involves escaping into the world of gaming. We all escape one way or another right? My opinions focus on those who are struggling to balance their life because they aren’t accepting that they have more responsibility than they take on. In my experience, when it comes to gaming, this mostly happens in men but I welcome anyone to show me an example of the roles reversed.
Nubs, Nubs, Nubs
After many weeks of Zara, my other-half, telling me the stories (real life stuff) posted by mothers on a Facebook community group called “Nubs, Bumps & Everything In-between”. I actually started to listen!
What I was hearing was a wide range of cold, harsh, realities of life and I know that naturally, such a group is meant for airing the less-positive moments in life. It’s just that much of it seemed to be about day to day routines that can be simple and yet men found ways to complicate it. This among other thoughts based on my own parenting experiences has really got me interested in how society deals with lazy or selfish parents in general, not just men.
This isn’t a man-bashing-man post. This post is about my cultural opinions regarding the family unit and what roles should be played by parents in general but as a man, I just want to put my feelings out there regarding my own role in the family unit that involved my partner working 12 hour shifts and I was caring for four children without any help most days. I can set an example based on what I’ve managed to accomplish and I’ll admit plenty mistakes made along the way, if not all in this post I will do in other blog posts.
Families are experiencing daily conflict in one way or another because so many men want to repeatedly play console games or shrug-off responsibilities and their excuses is often because they have been to work. Families are experiencing difficulties for hundreds if not thousands of reasons but I want to focus on what I call destructive gaming and a small number of other issues that shouldn’t really be happening or ideally wouldn’t be happening if parents co-operated.
This post will finish with some explanation from me about why I feel so strongly about these matters to a point of blogging it.
All the things I’ve heard from Zara are very real, sometimes concerning and occasionally troubling. Many families could be failing to achieve their full potential because of too many fathers clock-off after work, while the mother continues to do her job! The community my partner keeps mentioning will eventually reach 30,000 users and so there is a wealth of posts to back my reason for concern over what is happening within our culture.
Complaints about Fathers
When I frequently heard the complaints about fathers I really started to tune into what Zara was saying, not like me at all, right Zara?! She had my ear and for a number of reasons that I will share. What was striking is how similar many complaints were and there are common questions being asked in the open, out of frustration. It seems many men make the same mistakes, common mistakes I suppose but easily avoided. It also seems that many mothers, struggle to get enough respect and attention to be taken seriously when they try to discourage certain habits.
A Mans Privacy or None
Firstly, I want to stand-up for men and express my annoyance that so many mothers think it is acceptable to post details about their family life on a Facebook community page. By asking for advice in the open, they give a lot away about their families situation and home lives. I see no evidence that any of this happens with the permission of partners or children – who also have rights, right?!
I would go as far to claim much of the content posted on Nubs is unethical because it shares more than a partner might be willing to tell others. Women are sharing paragraphs of text explaining their families issues and it is being read by hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook users.
Mothers are reassured by the fact that the group is for females only. So the other person in the relationship does not have access to descriptions about their family and personal comments about them. Alright, so women have been discussing these things for hundreds of years, probably! But they would have done it in small groups of friends and family. Not hundreds or thousands of strangers!
Is there a lack of respect or can women be excused because they need somewhere to vent and the modern world simply offers a modern solution?
A Women’s Rights or None
It’s a person right to seek advice and sometimes the best advice comes from parents who became parents themselves in recent years. I think a mother might be forgiven for posting a little too much on Facebook if their frustration is reaching a point where it is beginning to affect their overall happiness, their relationship and maybe mental health. That is often the case and as a stay-at-home Dad of eventually four (Currently 1, 2, 5 and 8) I know better than most men my age. I have been self-employed, earning my own wage, during the time I was the full-time parent and so I had a very intense experience that tells me what it can be like for both parents. It’s a challenge for everyone and there are hundreds of issues facing each family. This post will try to focus on a specific behavior and that could be having a massive negative effect.
The job of being the stay-at-home parent might allow a mother (more commonly a father) to be in the comfort of their home from morning till night if they choose – but this is not always a positive thing and it is that fact which escapes too many working parents. The parent who gets to leave home might easily be imaging they are the only ones slaving and under pressure. If a man makes the mistake of thinking that then their attitude and actions lead to a lack of many interactions that their partner needs to cope with the children and feel that the relationship is strong.
We could have a debate about the rights of parents (usually men) who are being spoken about in women-only communities. We could also discuss the rights of the parent who needs mixed advice to manage and cope with the daily grind of parenting. I never sought advice in this manner when I was caring for my four children alone and but maybe I should have or maybe I’ll stick to professionals. That way I don’t risk making my partner angry when she discovers I’m posting in a Daddy only Nubs type forum!
Work 9 till 5, grind 7 till 11
The rights of privacy and agreeing how information is shared when it comes to our family are important. Are they more important than the needs of the parent caring for children and potentially struggling? If the working partner does not recognize their other-halves need for support, right through to the end of the day, should they have any control over how their partner discusses them?
Too many, mostly men from what I hear, will switch-off from all responsibilities once they finish work. As if they exist to work, make a living, put bread on the table and do nothing else but relax. I find this totally unacceptable especially when they are happy to repeat the process after it has caused upset in the past. Zara told me that many girlfriends/wives have no idea what they should expect from their partner. They don’t know what to demand and what would be fair to ask from a person who has spent hours at work. It seems people get away with their habit of escaping at the detriment to their family.
Obviously, this issue doesn’t only apply to people who come home from work and there are unemployed parents who aren’t pulling their weight and exhibit the same habits but for different reasons. In many cases, health and fitness will be a major factor and I do understand that. None of my opinions are without flexibility when looking at individual circumstances and I feel that is important to express so that my attitude and character is understood.
It’s just too easy for too many to claim that their problems stop them caring for their own children on a passionate level. Over eight years of parenting I’ve experienced enough ups and downs to know that too many parents are making excuses. We’re talking about the quality of childcare at the end of the day, so let’s explore where different parents and their circumstances fit into the family unit.
What are our roles at home when we finish work or when both parents are unemployed?
Mummy v Daddy
It’s a sad title but sadly, this is how children can perceive some very common moments in the home – Mum versus Dad. I work hard with my partner to limit such moments and show that we are strongly linked as one. We do this using both action and language that re-assures the entire family. It’s not hard if both parents want the same thing.
We all need some free time and space or we lose our sanity. I don’t imagine any couple gets through years of parenting without clashing over who gets a break first. At some point, we all feel knackered and find ourselves debating with our other half over who gets to go out or go to the bedroom and close the door for the rest of the night.
There is nothing wrong with a couple having that debate, which can easily get heated if either person is at their limit. It’s all part of life. If both parents feel particularly knackered and at their end. Then things can become very emotional and bigger arguments happen.
It could be that a Mum and Dad fail to see each other’s needs and their combined needs. They are busy trying to get what they want with some determination and often doing so because they have spent hours giving so much to little people who are very demanding. If we recognize each other’s needs and take a moment to consider a fair solution. The chances are things will work out better for everyone. That isn’t happening in every household though and all too commonly I find that the man is to blame.
A Family Business
Growing up is about being ready to serve and sacrifice above our own daily desires. That is especially true when we have children. If both parents accept it and work as a team. Then life is fairer for everyone, including the children as they experience united parenting. The goal is always to reduce stress and increase happiness. There comes a time in the day when all there is left to do is get kids fed, bathed and in their bed. Sadly, that time of the day is the very time too many Dads decide to pick up a joypad or go to the pub. I’m not saying there aren’t mothers who do the same thing, it’s just rare from my experience.
After everything I’ve already typed in this post, it all comes down to teamwork and maybe parents need to run their family like a business to maintain discipline and routine. I know it all sounds great in theory and some people reading this will be dealing with a partner who just doesn’t buy into it and maybe they are too selfish to recognize their responsibility.
We will all make more mistakes as parents but the biggest mistake we can make is shying away from our responsibility and not putting ourselves in a position to make mistakes.
Zara told me about many young girls who suffer verbal abuse and put up with temper tantrums from their partners because he wants to play computer games. This is a complaint I hear a lot and it seems that women became wary about triggering episodes by asking for more help from their partners.
It doesn’t only apply to playing games, young people and males. These are just the common factors when I hear about struggling relationships and mothers who are exhausted.
Money Is Everything
It would seem that the main breadwinner during the raising of children (still mostly men) often has the attitude that their wage is the only major contribution they need to make to the family. Money is everything in the eyes of too many Dads who fail to see that the job of the mother is vital for their children’s quality of upbringing.
I have worked from home since the time my first was born. I created an online business to sustain my family and I created products as a stay-at-home Dad while holding a baby in my left arm for an hour at a time. I enjoyed it and that positivity (which not everyone has) does help a lot. I did what I had to do though and there were days I earned good money despite eventually being at home with four children who have complex needs among them including one with autism and one with another disorder! I never ever had the attitude that my job was done unless I was ill.
Too Many Excuses
So now you know why I’m not good at accepting too many excuses or hearing about poor attitudes and a lack of respect from grown men. I’m not suggesting we should all have the mentality to cope because I know we are all wired differently thanks to our upbringing. I just think it takes a good excuse to choose the easy way every day and there aren’t many good excuses.
There hasn’t been a day or night I haven’t changed multiple nappies and I come across men who never change their kids nappy ever. I cook most of our meals and most meals are freshly cooked. I come across couples who eat takeaways all through the week and the man of the house is a constant gamer. It’s that selfish choice again of picking up a joypad or prioritizing a PC game because a big update has been released. It becomes part of a lifestyle and a lazy one at that.
I cook, bath the kids, wipe bums, give medicine, read-books, cook a meal and so on. I’m telling you these things so that you know my point of view comes from sharing all of the work and actions rather than words in a blog. It’s not all talk and I am practicing what I preach. I’m sharing this to prove that men can and do multitask between work and children without a second thought.
This should happen 24/7 (in an ideal world) and there is no choice once a baby is born. A parent doesn’t need to get it all right, they just need to agree that this is their responsibility and that they will try their best in reality…not a game!
Stay-at-home parents need to get that message across to their other half and get some agreement in words. Stubborn people need to be told, ‘there is not a choice of sitting down to play games if there is still plenty to do’, work days or days off it does not matter!
When everything is done and the children are sleeping or just content. Then both parents get to begin their wind-down and relaxation at the same time. That is 100% fair and we should be aiming for fairness 24/7 to avoid one being more stressed and exhausted than the other.
100% Equal Responsibility
Each stage in life demands more from us and many fail to rise in maturity. The theme of this post is men gaming and it comes down to the fact that game often takes the joy out of the family environment and doesn’t always add to it. The current generation of fathers have had access to highly immersive gaming all their lives and the result is an inability to put down the joypad at the click of a finger or a baby crying maybe!
That means one parent has more responsibility than the other and that extra responsibility is being forced on them. If this happens regularly without good reason i.e. ill health or bereavement. Then a person has to seriously consider who they are making a life with and why they exist to make that other person’s life easier.
The Great *Gaming* Escape
I know from personal experience that we aren’t always gaming for joy and instead it’s about escape. I’ve done it and grew out of it, mostly. It has to be dealt with using a zero tolerance approach like putting boundaries in-place for a child. Try telling a man that is what is happening and maybe he will think twice about picking the joypad up before 8pm! My partner doesn’t tolerate it and maybe I’d slip into my teenage ways if she wasn’t so…encouraging let’s just say! I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that I enjoy knowing Zara isn’t more tired than me and I have her respect.
Boys becoming men need to break a habit of a lifetime (possibly addiction or reliance) and switch the console on when the stay-at-home parent of the household is satisfied everything is done. I’m not saying I’ve never made the mistake myself. I’ve opened my laptop at the wrong time but I don’t have a mood swing and become abusive like the men I keep hearing about when I need to close it again.
On The Fly…Becomes Routine
Initially, couples need to stay busy until there is agreement…that everything is done. So a Mum might be doing the dishes and Dad is bathing the kids. Then someone might need to iron and the other reads stories to the kids or tidies. At some point, each parent will check with the other and offer help or ask if there is anything else needing doing. This happens on the fly, very quickly, no slowing down and eventually, it becomes routine. Life is so much easier when we know the routine because there is less decision making over who does what and instead it all just happens naturally.
This is great for the kids because the chances are they are getting plenty attention and learning from their parents working as a team. When the kids get to a certain age it’s easy to keep them busy by letting them join in. My five year old will happily wipe her brother’s dirty bum and put his nappy on. Simply because she doesn’t like being useless. The point I’m making here is that we invite her and allow her to get involved. This also happens on the fly and most kids will get used to going at an adults pace because it increases adrenaline.
Battle of Responsibilities
Somehow society is failing to express that a working parents responsibility is 100% equal to the stay-at-home parents when both are at home. That lack of clarity reduces the power a person has to deal with the battle of responsibilities. Obviously, things change when both parents begin to work or the children are at School and the stay-at-home parent genuinely gets an easy day. If your that person then your probably a millionaire with a Nanny or family are greatly involved in raising the children on a daily basis. If a stay-at-home parent truly gets it easy then maybe that console should boot up by 6pm sometimes!
I wouldn’t blame anyone for coming home from work and leaving the kids in the hands of the one who has been sitting in a salon chair for 2 hours and having lunch with the BFF! It’s just a problem when the working parent thinks that is happening all through the week when it isn’t.
Two Jobs, Two Workers
If I was to put it all into a sentence I would say, ‘Two jobs, two workers and they always finish work together.’ If there is a lack of respect and acceptance in full-time parenting being as hard as a job. Well, that is relationship counseling territory in my opinion!
My point of view relies on what I’ve witnessed during my life and what I’m hearing from my partner who uses the Nubs site. My opinions are based on what is only a small window into a few ways of living. There isn’t a Book of Parenting that fits all and nothing I say could be applied to every family. I just want people to know that men who throw tantrums and have mood swings due to computer games or wanting to go to the pub frequently based on the fact they have been to work…are very much in the wrong.
It should not be tolerated and any anxiousness they cause can be a form of domestic abuse if it’s frequent enough to create a feeling of pressure and fear. People need to nip it in the bud and can get support to do just that.
My main goal when I began this post was to tell others, that there are men with an opinion like my own and they are willing to give everything they have to their family with gaming or escaping being done at suitable times. Struggling stay-at-home parents (I have done it and had my struggles) need to hear from people like myself so they can understand what is reasonable and how much they should be able to demand from a partner returning from work.
The world is changing rapidly. Children need parents to help them figure out far more than when we were children. That means Dads not switching off because they have finished a job and instead they should continue being a vital cog in a machine that consumes and grows and never slows down.
News Update: Gaming Addiction Disorder
Since my post, the World Health Organization has classified Gaming Addiction as a Disorder. This is fantastic news because the right people will be able to access more help and improve their lives. This is an issue I have been open about for years, after much discussion with gamers who couldn’t seem to stop spending their family rent money on game items.
The BBC reported the recent news two days into the new year and it will certainly make this year very different. The classification by WHO will force countries to consider regulating gaming a little more, as done in other countries, including China by the way! It seems some governments are ahead of the West when it comes to protecting their citizens from an industry that not only provides entertainment but actively attempts to abuse our humanity using psychologically motivated techniques.
Does Daddy have a Gaming Disorder?
I have no doubt many will not claim that they are ill when in-fact they simply continue to refuse more responsibility. Families need to approach these things with care, fairness, but with firmness also. That means someone isn’t giving it easy because they claim addiction especially if they manage to maintain a routine of working all day then gaming the rest of the evening. That to me is a routine that might suggest a dependence on gaming for escape and it is the desire to escape that is the true issue. Not gaming. At the end of the day. anyone struggling to balance life and make their family happy because the joypad seems to be calling…must do the right thing and seek help.