There are very few things I'm naturally good at and feel confident doing. But there is nothing that gets more comments than being a natural with kids. Why is it such a surprise to see a man that is good with kids?
I love kids and have since I was a kid myself. When Erin and I started dating (which was over 10 years ago for all you young whipper-snappers out there) I remember playing with her cousin who was much younger. I couldn't wait to hold her other infant cousin and rock him to sleep. I loved all of it. Any time a friend or family member had a kid I would chomp at the bit wanting to hold them and play with them. And I would always hear the same things "You're a natural" or "You're so good with them" as if it were the hugest surprise.
At first I figured this was because I rarely asked to hold children and waited for the parents to offer. I don't want to be overbearing or presumptuous. More often than not a parent isn't going to tell you "No, you can't hold my children, you whack job" even if they aren't comfortable with it. I know that there is a HUGE amount of trust placed in the hands of someone holding your kid. So I wanted them to feel comfortable with me first. Maybe people misinterpreted my respect for space as being timid because I didn't dive right and in a pick the kids up, so they thought it odd when I took to it so well. But then I noticed that I even heard those same things after my girls were born. How I looked so comfortable holding them or how there was no awkwardness. Why did everyone seem to think that I wouldn't be a natural or at least feel the need to comment on it?
Then I realized the reasoning for most people: Apparently males aren't natural parents in many people's eyes. We don't have the maternal instincts ergo we can't operate as naturally as a female. If you asked my wife honestly, she would say that I was far more comfortable doing everything for the girls when they first arrived, yet the idea prevailed that I was some sort of oddity. An outlier to the norm. That isn't to say that guys who are totally awkward around children and more specifically babies don't exist. They certainly do. There are guys that are flat-out afraid to hold a child, and I don't really get it. I may be biased, but how could you not want to hold my girls and play with them and try to get them to smile? They are about as cute as anything currently in existence, but there are some that want no part of it. But even breaking away from my obvious bias, how could you not want to hold any baby? They're warm and smell great. Holding a sleeping infant is more relaxing than all the ocean sounds and aroma therapy in the world.
I think I've figured out the real reason and why males get a bad rap. Guys, dudes, boys, etc. are uncomfortable around kids because they aren't as sure of themselves as they'd like you to believe. Their confidence stems from what they can do for themselves or what they've accomplished. It comes from more of a selfish place. A man on the other hand has confidence in who he is and what he has to give to others. That confidence comes across in how you deal with children because you know you can put them first and take care of them. In turn you come across as more natural. A perfect example is my dad with the girls. He is blustery with everyone about how they have to be careful with them and protect their necks and heads, but that doesn't keep him from picking them up and playing with them. He still exudes the confidence because he knows that he can take care of them. Unfair or not, men get the "You're such a natural" card played on them a lot more than women even though there are also a lot of women that aren't natural kid people.
This is just my hypothesis, and you can disagree with it as much as you'd like.
I'd just like people to start realizing that a natural dad isn't as surprising as you'd think.