Volunteering: Just Say No!

Quiz time! Ask your children's father, right now, the names of the parents of your child's three best friends in school.

Unless you're in the unusual position of being BFFs with the parents of all your children's friends, or your husband happens to be the teacher of your child's class, chances are good he's clueless. And this really is not meant to be dad-bashing; being involved at school has just always been seen as the domain of moms. Parent-Teacher Association groups may as well be called Mother-Teacher Association for the number of times you see dads there.

And let's not even get into the freakin' hero worship that dads enjoy if they so much as sign a volunteer sheet. Moms, on the other hand, are expected to be chomping at the bit to be a room parent, even if they have other things to do like, oh, earn a living.


And if you're a stay-at-home mom and pass up the PTA gig, you may as well just resign yourself to being a social pariah until your kids graduate high school; stay-at-home dads who show the slightest interest are regarded as just the greatest guys ever.

It is, to say the least, annoying. And some moms are finally pushing back against these ridiculous volunteering expectations. One mom in this New York Times story actually scribbled over her name when she saw herself listed as chair of some event, adding, "NO, I'M NOT." Hee hee.

What ends up happening is that parents want their kids to have the best possible experience, so they volunteer at school to help make that happen. In many cases, these are moms who left paid jobs so they could spend more time with their kids. But then the schools ask so much of them that they end up doing exactly what they quit work to avoid: leaving their kids with babysitters, rushing around like a maniac, and serving up lots of takeout.

Here's what needs to happen: Dads, you've got to step up. Moms have done the unpaid scut work long enough, but it still needs to be done if kids are going to have band concerts and science fairs and all those nice school memories. Sign up for something, and balance it around your day to day responsibilities, just like moms do (whether they work or stay home). You'll find it's harder than it looks and only a little bit worthwhile, but the payoff is knowing you've done your bit. Because moms, finally, are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Your turn, guys.


Image via Gregg O'Connell/Flickr

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