DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a single working father of four. I’m often given unasked-for parenting advice from female parents who often, frankly, have much less parenting experience in general, and absolutely none with my own kids.
This ranges from comments like, “Children often do better in their mom’s lap” as I’m booking plane seats, to being the only parent on an email chain to get extra tips and help on a class project (e.g.: “Remember to get 10 cheese and 10 chicken quesadillas for the class party!”).
I’m a triple-board-certified physician with multiple advanced degrees from an Ivy League school. I have 54 cumulative parent years under my belt. I can bring quesadillas to a first-grade party.
You point out that using the term “mansplaining” overgeneralizes, so I won’t call this behavior “momsplaining.” What would you call it?
I’m not sure that these comments are always meant in a helpful manner, and many of them seem to imply that men don’t really know how to parent their children. Words of wisdom on this one?
GENTLE READER: Yes, but Miss Manners will credit them to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose many arguments “on the basis of sex” mandated nondiscrimination for both parents, regardless of gender.
No doubt, these helpful mothers are the same ones who complain that their husbands are reluctant to change a diaper, then snatch it away from them when they “do it wrong.”
A polite, tight-lipped, “Thank you so much for your help, but I think I can handle this” may be your best recourse in the short term. But a reminder that true parental and gender equality mandates that either parent may be similarly equipped to earn a salary, change a diaper and correctly count quesadillas may also be in order.