Stop Calling Pharrell a Deadbeat Dad Because He Doesn’t Change Diapers

So many celebrities have given birth to multiples this year, and with the recent announcement of the arrival of Jay Z and Beyoncé’s twins and the buzz about the secrecy of their names, you might have forgotten about musician Pharrell William’s triplets. He has also been keeping his five-month-old triplets away from the limelight and hasn’t released any photos or even their names, which is admirable and impressive, given how much oversharing takes place on social media today. Pharrell has talked about the latest additions to his family only rarely—until a recent appearance on The Today Show, that is, when he decided to announce that he doesn’t change any of the babies’ diapers.

That’s right. Pharrell’s wife, Helen, carried triplets for nine months, and now she’s also stuck on diaper duty for three babies. God bless her. Pharrell was quick to compliment his wife, saying, “My wife is SEAL Team Six. There’s nothing she can’t do. She carried those three bodies and she’s just on it all the time. We do have some people to help us, but it’s serious. I have a tribe … it’s an assembly line.” He also admitted that “SEAL Team Six” is also the only one to dress the babies, too.

Given the current cultural climate, which insists on both men and women sharing parenting responsibilities equally, Pharrell is facing some backlash and angry tweets. But we don’t know the whole story. Maybe his wife prefers to change the diapers herself or enjoys picking out the babies’ outfits every day. Maybe Pharrell doesn’t change diapers, but he does more cooking and household chores. If Pharrell doesn’t change diapers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a bad father or a “deadbeat dad,” as he was called on Twitter. Helen and Pharrell could have agreed on splitting parenting responsibilities in other ways, and changing diapers could be one of Helen’s responsibilities while Pharrell takes on others.

I’m sure my mother changed more diapers than my father, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t help out and it certainly doesn’t make him a “deadbeat dad.” Growing up in a family with five children, parenting responsibilities had to be split, otherwise my mother would have gone insane. My mother did more of the “domestic” household chores, but that doesn’t mean my parents’ responsibilities weren’t equal. And it largely came down to what time of day it was, which I’m sure is the case with many families. My father’s work schedule varied, so it was easier for him to do things like yard work on the weekends rather than folding the laundry on a weeknight when he was teaching night classes. But my boyfriend’s father was mostly in charge of the laundry in their home because he would get home from work earlier than my boyfriend’s mother, while she would wait for the bus with the children in the morning since she would leave for work later.

And when my father was home from work, he would read us bedtime stories or help me sell Girl Scout cookies. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, my father is in the kitchen cooking up a storm just as much as my mother. In many families, parenting responsibilities are divided up based on the quirkiness of each parent’s schedule, so even if my some moms change more diapers than dads do, it doesn’t mean that the fathers aren’t doing their fair share.

There are, unfortunately, plenty of deadbeat dads and deadbeat moms in the world; let’s not assume that just because Pharrell doesn’t change dirty diapers, he’s a bad father. Parenting is no easy task, and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge how one family takes care of their children without knowing the whole story.

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  • Alicia Westberry

    Calling a man a “deadbeat dad” used to mean something. That has changed; however. I’m sure Pharrell and his wife have an agreement about how their family works. He’s very complimentary of her. Save the outrage for the real deadbeats!!