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Dads say they get shamed, too. Like moms, they feel the sting of 'you're doing it wrong'

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Mommy shaming is practically a national pastime. Moms are judged for their choices in clothing, returning to work, breastfeeding, their post-birth bodies, and their children’s diets and extracurricular activities.

Dads have had it a ton easier, right? Not so fast, says a new poll.

More than half (52%) of dads reported to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National that they, too, have been shamed. For moms, it’s 60% but still that’s a lot of dad shaming going on.

“I think there was a sense that it was a mom phenomenon,” Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll on children’s health at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times. “This poll shows it’s really not.”

What are dads shamed for?

The poll asked a national sample of dads with children ages 0-13 about perceptions of their parenting.

Of the 52 percent of dads who said they were dinged for not parenting right, the study authors said that traditional gender roles may have been the reason.

“In some instances, this may be a reflection of historical gender roles, where mothers are viewed as more natural caregivers, and fathers as having limited parenting capabilities that need supervision or correction. When this occurs, minor differences in parenting style can cause conflict over the ‘best’ way to parent.”

More reasons fathers were criticized:

  • 67% how they discipline
  • 43% how they feed their child
  • 32% for being too rough with their child
  • 32% not paying attention to their child
  • 24% over a child’s sleep habits
  • 23% over a child’s appearance
  • 19% over a child’s safety

Who’s shaming?

Fathers don’t have to look too far to find the biggest shamers. Many times, the criticism comes from the moms or from the child’s other parent. Dad’s recalled that:

  • 44% came from the child’s other parent
  • 24% came from the child’s grandparents
  • 10% came from strangers in public places or online 
  • 9% came from the father’s friends
  • 5% came from teachers or health care providers

All this shaming led some dads to say they felt less confident as a parent (28%) or worse, wanted to be less-involved parents (19%).

Some good news 

The poll did find that almost half (49%) of dads took those knocks on their parenting and said they made a positive change.

Another 40% of dads said they sought out advice or information on the topic for which they were shamed.  

Study authors said family members should be prepared that dads may come back at them armed with the facts that they were doing it right all along.

“In some cases, new information might prompt a change in parenting behavior, but in others, the father may find confirmation of his approach,” they wrote. “Mothers, co-parents, and other family members should be willing to acknowledge that different parenting styles are not necessarily incorrect or harmful.”

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