Two Unexpected Conversations

1. 5-year-old announces, “Yep, Mama is easiest.” When asked to clarify, she explains, “when a baby cries, it’s always Mama, and when a kid needs something or has a pain, she says Mama too. Mama is easiest to say.”

2. Dignified 75-year-old woman (one you would assume is extremely orthodox) pauses in the foyer of a wardhouse in Salt Lake City to comment to two men, skipping Sunday School with a young child each as they argue about how to effect cultural change on environmental stewardship. “It’s so wonderful to see fathers involved in caring for the children. It warms my heart. In my generation, it was all the woman’s job. I love to see you young fathers.” She walks away, smiling.


  1. Your #2 sounds familiar. Lately during church I’ve walked the halls with our 1-year old. I often get comments such as “awww, what I cutie!” I want to say back, “Thanks, your looking good yourself” but that would probably be inappropriate, especially in church, and especially if it were a 75-year old woman.

    But seriously, although I believe in the proclamation on the family in saying that women are primary responsible for the nurture of their children, I think it is a good thing that some men are increasingly more involved with the caring for the children. This is especially true given the lack of positive male influence for kids in general in our society.

    I asked my wife if she things our children would be more likely to go to her if they got hurt, and she said with a sigh, “No, they would just cry and scream at whoever would listen.” We’re going through some issues with whining and complaining with our kids, so that probably influenced her answer.

  2. hawkgrrrl says:

    On #1 – the sound “Mama” that babies make is an expression of sadness and usually the first word because babies are in want of something. “Dada” is a happier, more contented sound that usually comes later.

    On #2 – My husband always finds it irritating when men refer to caring for their own children as “babysitting.” We suggest the alternate word “parenting.” Joseph Smith was an excellent example of a man who didn’t shy away from caring for his own or others’ children.

  3. Our daughter whines all the time too. She’s 3 though so… it’s to be expected :) kids are such a joy lol

    #2 strikes a chord with me a bit I guess. Maybe I’m a bit more liberal than most on this topic but I have take HUGE issue with the proclimation saying women are primarily responsible for the children. When did it become wrong, or not a father’s job to have an equal part in all aspects of raising the kids? Notice I didn’t say ‘some’ part, I said EQUAL part.

    Just because many LDS women choose to stay at home with children doesn’t make them the primary caretaker. There’s plenty the men can do to raise the children as well. Afterall, life doesn’t end when you come home from work…. You got a family to tend to brotha, buck up & be a man!

  4. Mr. Blue, the proclamation doesn’t say that mothers are the “primary caretakers”. It says their primary responsibility is “the nurture of their children”. Those are two very different statements.

    You said, “When did it become wrong, or not a father’s job to have an equal part in all aspects of raising the kids? Notice I didn’t say ‘some’ part, I said EQUAL part.”

    This is from the proclamation:

    “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

    It seems you agree with the proclamation.

  5. Mike L., the best thing about having 6 kids is that by the time the last one is 3 both parents have learned to ignore the crying and screaming of that 3-year-old, after a quick check to make sure there is no blood flowing. *grin*

  6. Bro Jones says:

    I heard of a family who joined the church because he took care of his kids. He was active in another church, and when the kids squacked he would be the one to deal with it.

    Other men started getting on his case because he was making them look bad, and their wives were starting to notice.

    He ended up coming over to our church because we didn’t give him grief.

  7. Interestingly enough, most children’s first recognizable word is “dada.” Through a process of babbling, which is defined as a hard consonant followed by a vowel, the baby will come across “dada” completely by chance, at about 9 months. The positive feedback they receive if heard leads them to repeat the word. “Mama” usually follows very shortly, when the child has moved on to soft consonants. But it makes the dad feel good inside, anyway. :)

  8. The baby becomes a good excuse opportunity to have interesting conversations outside of priesthood meeting. (For us, it was about immigration, birthrates and social services.)

  9. 1. My baby said “dada” for ages before she’d say “mama.” Even when she could say ‘mama’ she still said “dada.” She’s still head over diaper in love with her dad.
    2. #1 works out really well for me getting to peacefully sit through Relief Society. I’m SO glad to live in the latter, latter-days when men are “involved in caring for the children. It warms my heart” too.

  10. Thanks for sharing smb. I know those particular foyers well.

  11. My babies all said “da-da” first. I’ve always thought it was easier for them to say.

    Hawkgirl, I agree with your husband.

    That 75 year old woman had it right. I find so many positive changes just from my generation. When I had my first baby, they didn’t let the dads come in for the delivery.

    Positive evolvement in the face of so many negatives.

  12. I don’t find conversation 2 the least bit unexpected. I cannot imagine a woman of any age who would not welcome increased involvement from the other parent.

    This may well throw me over the line to curmudgeon, but I have known too many of those young men walking their halls showing off their kids to be the same men who abandon their wife at home with kids to play basketball and video games on their only family day or to “not get home in time” to allow their wives to attend enrichment or a movie with a friend. So, when I see these guys, I hope it is not a show and that they take care of their children any chance they get, not just when the ward can see and praise them.

  13. Several of my kid’s first word was Pepsi. I am not kidding.

    With six kids, I figure that I spent probably two actual years walking the halls either carrying or chasing or walking one of the rugrats. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, myself.

    It is also interesting to note that one of the first things that attracted a convert friend of ours was the fact that men not only came to church in our church, but that they were involved both with church responsibilities (this was before she understood our concept of a lay priesthood) and with the kids.

    As to your number 1, Sam, I’m a lighter sleeper than my wife, so in the night, when the kids felt sick, they always came to my side of the bed. That often resulted in getting thrown up on, but also lots of quality time watching “Dumbo” in the wee hours with the wee ones.

  14. As a father of 6 year old quadruplets I can gratefully say that my time in the hall is over. When our kids would cry a dozen hands would reach from all sides to grab them. I think some older women would sit by us on purpose to have a chance to hold a baby again. I didn’t see any men waiting in line to take care of a baby that wasn’t their own.

    on a side note:

    Last Sunday my wife was speaking and I was walking the route to count attendance. I caught my son in the hall getting a drink and he asked me what I was doing. I must have mumbled my answer because he got this excited look on his face and ran back into the chapel.

    As I headed back to my seat I saw him walking the isle counting (softly to himself) the people in the pews. I think just about everyone was watching him and laughing. He got 36 in the middle section while I only got 35 . . . I went with his number.

  15. Tiny: “I didn’t see any men waiting in line to take care of a baby that wasn’t their own.”

    You’ve never met my current bishop.

  16. I didn’t see any men waiting in line to take care of a baby that wasn’t their own.

    Maybe it’s just the cynic in me, but it’s my perception that people would think it very odd for a man to take interest in someone else’s baby, unless they were very close friends or family.

  17. Andrew Teasdale says:

    Sam MB:

    On #2…

    Dignified 75-yr old women are so kind and sweet. The men were indeed skipping Sunday School. That they had children with them was just the excuse. : )

  18. #17 Amen on that one.

    The other enjoyable activity is napping on the foyer couch while your child naps on your lap (during the joyous 12-18month old time frame).

  19. Chad Too says:

    Andrew Teasdale?!?!?! Hey, old roomie.

  20. chimera says:

    It is great to see fathers doing more to help with the kids – a great example – it is also great they can go into the delivery. Wouldn’t it be nice if mothers were allowed to participate in blessings?

  21. :::donning bee suit and stepping into hornet’s nest::: The services I alone can provide for my baby are sacred to me (no, I am not talking about changing diapers), so I don’t for a second begrudge my husband the privilege of pronouncing a blessing in sacrament meeting.

    But the notion that men are “babysitting” when they take care of their own children is one of my pet peeves as well. I don’t encounter that very often nowadays, fortunately.