It’s 2022, and yet we still live in a world where parenting double standards abound. For heterosexual couples, dads are often celebrated for doing any run-of-the-mill parenting task while moms are expected to handle the bulk of them without so much as a pat on the back.
Mary Catherine Starr — an artist, yoga teacher and mother of two based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts — is the woman behind the Instagram account @momlife_comics. Her recent post titled “An Illustrated Guide To The Double Standards Of Parenting” highlights some of the major differences in how society views moms versus dads.
The post struck a nerve on social media — in fact, it’s quickly become her most popular post to date.
“I’m tired of our society applauding dads for handling the most basic of parenting duties and expecting perfection from mothers,” the artist told HuffPost.
The scenarios illustrated are based on Starr’s own experiences as a mom in a world that sets the bar far lower for dads (even though they’re just as capable).
“People have said lots of things to me that they would never say to my husband,” she said. “For instance, once, when my daughter was young and I was pushing her in the stroller and looking down at my phone, a neighbor called out to me that I ‘should pay attention to my daughter instead of my phone.’ I know he never would have said that to my husband.”
Another example: when people say a dad is “babysitting,” but what he’s actually doing is parenting his own child.
“People will ask moms, ‘Who is watching your kids?’ when they’re traveling or out at night, but don’t ask dads that,” Starr said. “Moms are expected to stay home from work when their kids are sick, and dads aren’t. And, in fact, often dads aren’t given the same flexibility that moms are given when their kids are sick.”
In the comments on Instagram, parents have been sharing their own observations about these kinds of double standards, lamenting how insulting and frustrating they can be.
“I was at my kids field trip and the teacher said, ‘We are so glad the dads could get off work to come!’ I’m thinking like…. ummmm, I work too lady,” one mom wrote.
“How about when dad dresses them oddly or inappropriately for the weather — hilarious. If mom did that, she’s borderline negligent,” said another.
Starr stressed that the purpose of these comics isn’t to bash dads. It’s to make us more aware of just how differently moms and dads are viewed when they’re doing the exact same thing.
“My hope is that the more we talk about — and point out — these double standards, the more we can start to change the narrative,” she said.
To see more of Starr’s work, follow her on Instagram and check out her website and shop.