If television and movies are to be believed, dads are basically taller, hairier friends of their kids. It would seem that fathers are just big goofballs out for some laughs. The message is clear: dads are more fun than moms.
In a crazy case of art imitating life, these portrayals are seemingly accurate. A study cited in Today’s Parent indicates that there are several variables that cause this phenomenon. First are lingering gender norms. Moms still do most of the heaving lifting when it comes to raising kids – including the disciplining – which means they have less time for silliness and fun. Another factor is how society views what makes a “good” mom versus what makes a “good” dad.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any research examining whether doubling the dads in a family doubles the fun. But if our household is any indication, the answer to that hypothesis is a resounding YES!
One afternoon while I was at the office, Kelly spent his day making a ramp for our then three-year-old son to launch his little bike off of. Then there was the time the boys came home from school to discover a large bowl filled with water-gorged balloons and a note telling them I was hiding somewhere in the backyard – and armed. Their shrieks of laughter when I jumped out from behind a bush, nailing them both squarely in the chest, were well worth getting drenched when they ganged up on me.
I think this type of silliness and fun flows into other activities, like Halloween.
Look, I’m the first to admit I was a weird kid – especially around Halloween. I couldn’t care less about the candy. As a matter of fact, if my older siblings (or my mom) didn’t get into it, I’d have leftovers well into February. No, for me, it was all about how clever my costume was. Candy was the price strangers paid for the privilege of gazing upon my creativity. And if I do say so myself when we put in some effort, Kelly and I can still wow on Halloween – once, we were the talk of a party dressed as Mormon missionaries!
So naturally, when the boys came along, their two dads went into overdrive. For his first Halloween, we decked a two-year-old Gus in the white tux he’d worn after his baptism, accented with a bedazzled cape courtesy of his Tante Sabine. As one dad held his hand, the other held the toddler-sized toy grand piano. Gus would ring the bell and say, “Trick treat, I Liberace.” Between the guffaws, whoever answered the door tossed extra candy into the bag.
That was it for us to get to choose costumes. By the next year, Gus wanted to mimic the scary costumes his buddies wore. And when Niko came along, he wore something similar to what his big brother had chosen. We had lost creative control. At least for them. We still enjoyed free will to select our own costumes if we wanted…any costume. Meaning one year, the Grim Reaper and a ninja were escorted door to door by Dr. Seuss’s Thing 1 and Thing 2!
Look, gay dads don’t have a monopoly on making childhood memorable. Nor do I believe that gender norms and society’s expectations are the sole reasons fathers get to be the “fun” parents. I think that most guys are so overjoyed about being a dad that all that love bursts forth in the only way too many men can show emotions – silliness, laughter, and fun. So, logically, when you double the dads, you double the fun. And when you double the fun, you double the love.