“My wife sent me to the supermarket to buy a fabric softener. Well, actually I was told to take a photo of the shelf of softeners and send it over: apparently, I am not qualified to choose which one to buy. So I came up to the shelf and started taking photos. Suddenly a man nearby pointed at me with his phone and said, “I can send you my photos of all the softeners here. With WhatsApp. I have a full gallery. Each bottle is a close-up from both sides.” I replied, ”No, thanks. I was just told to send the full shelf without close-ups.“ ”Clear. Lucky man…” I laughed, “Something like that, but thanks for your offer anyway. Great idea with WhatsApp.” The man smiled and said, “Sure, but the idea is not mine. See that man taking photos of detergents? He sent the photos to me. And my photo session of baby food starts now. Have fun!”
It is very well known that men generally do not like to ‘sweat the small stuff’. Therefore they are often happy to leave routine domestic decision-making to women and are often putting a great deal of their energy into placating the women in their lives in order to keep their world manageable.
Celia Lashlie however identified some areas of concern in her book “He’ll be OK”:
“The principal told me again and again that when two parents come in for a chat because their boy’s in trouble, it’s the norm for the mother to do all the talking. The principal looks towards the father and it’s obvious he has something to say, an opinion to offer, but she won’t shut up long enough for him to actually say it…. I thought it might be an overly prejudiced view, so decided to investigate a little further. The opportunity to do so arose when I found myself in front of a group of fathers.
‘Listen guys, I just want to check something out with you. Apparently when you and your wife are in the principal’s office because your son’s in a spot of bother and you’ve been called to the school, you’re really quiet, you just don’t talk.’
‘No,’ came the reply from one man.
‘Because I’ll get it wrong.’
Somewhat naively, I replied, ‘No, you can’t get it wrong, he’s your boy.’
‘Oh no,’ he said, looking straight at me, a now-familiar look of resignation on his face, ‘I’ll get it wrong… and I’ll get a pull-through when I get home.’
As he said this, several heads in the room nodded, the men seeming to relish the fact that someone had identified a situation with which they were all very familiar…
After a bit more discussion on this topic with the men, I headed back to talk to their wives and partners and, as I did so, I found myself thinking that the views expressed by the men were probably a little unfair and would offend the women I was about to talk to. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
‘The guys have just told me that when they’re in the principal’s office with you, they don’t talk because they’ll get it wrong.’
One woman didn’t even hesitate; she looked straight at me and without the slightest hint of the embarrassment I was expecting, she said, ‘He will.’
‘And he reckons he’ll get a pull-through when he gets home?’
‘I won’t wait that long – I’ll get him in the car.’
There seemed to be universal agreement with her comments and the conversation continued with one woman saying, ‘I take him to parent-teacher evenings, but he just won’t talk.’ By this time I was thinking, Yes, and I think I’m beginning to see why, so I said, ‘Well, there’s one possible solution.’
‘You could send him by himself, then he’s going to have to talk.
At that moment the entire group of intelligent, articulate middle-class women looked as if I’d just asked them to eat a snake. (No power and control issues here, I thought to myself!)”…
Is YOUR VOICE heard and respected at home?