Monday, July 1, 2013

Oh Channing Tatum- I Am Sorry Childbirth Made You Cry! (Breaking the "Useless Dad" Stereotype)

Father's don't need to be useless during the birth of their children.  I wish I could get angry about this topic, but frankly it just makes me a little sad.  I read this article today about Channing Tatum and how helpless he felt during the labor and birth of his first child with his wife, Jenna.

In a lot of ways it was beautiful to read about a celebrity who loves his wife, is present, isn't all about the press and the attention and who is willing to share some real feelings about life's most amazing event.  Honestly, he sounds like a really wonderful and genuinely nice guy.  (Easy on the eyes too, you have to admit.)

The thing that is a little sad about this birth story from his perspective though is how helpless he felt.
"It's like someone's hurting, someone that you love and you can't do anything about it," he said. "You physically cannot help. And I'm still not helping and the baby's out. It doesn't matter. You are useless."
I just want to give him a hug and tell him that he is NOT useless!

Channing- you can (and probably ARE)
helpful.  You are important to your child and your wife.  Your very presence and the fact that you seem to give a crap at all is a GOOD THING and is helpful in and of itself.

Is it hard to watch a woman labor, and yes hurt, to bring forth your child?  Yes, it can be.  But it is also a powerful and triumphant thing.  Labor and birth they are special things.  They showcase the magnificence of being a woman in ways that nothing else can.

Guess what else- dad doesn't have to be useless and helpless in the delivery room.  True, he can't make it all go away or experience it for her, but he CAN make it easier with help, with touch, with words, with love, and with his confident presence.  

Or check out this little gem.

       
A commercial for Nissan about "Dad's First Job".  I read the comments and some people pointed out that those bothered by the commercial were being over sensitive and stupid- after all- it's just a commercial!

True.  It is just a comercial.

But I think the message that it sends is clear, and it is a message that millions of men are recieving loud and clear (including the beloved Channing Tatum) -
"Dad is useless.  He can't help.  He is just on the sidelines feeling dumb.  Go put in the car-seat."

This idea of dad being dumb or helpless is pervasive and I think it is actually really destructive.  What is to stop a man from walking away from his family when he receives messages every day of how little he is needed at all?  I see these messages EVERY day.  Don't you?

We talk a lot in the natural birth community about the power and empowerment of women.  I do it too.

But what about the power and empowerment of MEN?  Of FATHERS?  What about our sons?  Why do we leave them out and act as though they are useless?

The world would be enraged by a commercial about how a mom who was useless and only capable of baking bread for her kids, yet we sit by and watch the destruction and the objectification of dad and nod and say, "Yeah.  I could do it without him.  Dads don't matter." 

Dads do matter.  The dad can be the mom's most important, trusted, loved and valued partner in the birth.  The moms who take my birth classes RAVE about their men!  When the men finish a natural birth class they talk about how confident they feel and how they know they can do this now.  Then they go out and they rock their birth with confidence. 

That is what I like to see- couples who are EXCITED about birth and who have grown in love for each other and confidince in their ability to start their family TOGETHER.

There is great power in this and I hope we don't forget about it.  Mom matters.  Dad matters.  Family matters.  We need each other.

And that is a beautiful thing, not a shackle. 

Photo credit: discutivo / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

11 comments:

BedTime Quilting said...

You're completely right. Or society demotes and discourages men from being good fathers and providers, and instead dummifies them. I support fathers. I support mothers. I support families. Dads are incredibly important.

Marianne said...

I do think, though, that men see "helping" as "fixing" and have to be prepared to offer support. They have to learn that you can't make labor pain go away- that it isn't your job to do that.

Mary @ Better Than Eden said...

Yes, yes, yes!! And ditto to Marianne. Husbands of the women I've worked with as a doula often need confidence that birth is normal and that their wife CAN do it naturally because they're just as susceptible to the birth is scary and dangerous messages of our culture.

Mama Birth said...

Yes definitely. Learning normality and then ways to comfort is the route I take.

Alanna said...

EVERY TIME I've seen that Nissan commercial I've thought to myself, "I need to email Mama Birth and ask her to write about that commercial!" So glad you did it without my prompting! I never know whether to laugh because they have NAILED what a hospital birth looks like, or cry because they have nailed what a hospital birth looks like...

Mama Birth said...

Thanks Alanna!

theperfectbirth said...

"What is to stop a man from walking away from his family when he receives messages every day of how little he is needed at all?"

Love, hopefully! Maybe the women empowerment thing is important for women to remember when they've been left by men or are forced to do it alone by indifferent partners. For those reasons, it's important. Dad isn't useless, but I guess that's going to vary on a case by case basis. :)

Rosslyn Vroom said...

Sarah - I love what you do and am excited to find your blog.
Based on gathering information from new dads through surveys and feedback - it breaks my heart when I read about their experience.
Dads have so much to offer - they really are the "missing link" to creating a loving family unit. Mom can't do it on her own - and his support during labor is valuable. He'll have lots of opportunities once baby is born - and given the opportunity - he wants to be an equal parenting partner. We need to acknowledge what Dads DO bring!
thanks for spreading the word
Ros Midwife/Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

genniemom said...

When I had my last baby, I was so concerned about my older children and their experience of the birth. My husband was perfect! He was somehow able to hold both of them and put pressure on my sacrum while I caught the baby along with my midwife. It was beautiful!

genniemom said...

When I had my last baby, I was so concerned about my older children and their experience of the birth. My husband was perfect! He was somehow able to hold both of them and put pressure on my sacrum while I caught the baby along with my midwife. It was beautiful!

sanam arzoo said...

This post was very nicely written, and it also contains a lot of useful facts. Thanks for sharing wonderful information. No doubt it is good information but research understood that people want to take useful information.Channing Tatum

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