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When husband’s ‘bare minimum’ parenting gets praised, wife sounds off in viral TikTok

"Gold star, apparently."
/ Source: TODAY

A mom whose husband was praised by strangers for doing the "bare minimum" called out a frustrating hypocrisy in parenting.

"My husband just got home from the grocery store; he took both boys, they're 1 and 2," Maryland mom Emily Belson said in a recent TikTok video. "Three people stopped him to tell him what a great dad he was for taking them to the store."

"Do you know how many times I've taken both of my kids to the grocery store, to literally everywhere? A million. How many people have stopped me to say I'm a great mom? Zero."

"Gold star, apparently," Belson captioned her video, writing the hashtag #bareminimum."

TikTok moms then shared the compliments their own husbands have heard in public.

"Oh my, you have your hands full," "Does he change diapers?'" and "He's such an amazing dad!"

Belson tells that while her husband is a hands-on dad to their sons, she has not encountered such awe.

"I was at the store three days ago (with the kids) and no one blinked," she says.

Belson, a photographer, explains that this week, her husband offered to go to the park and Wegmans grocery store with their children, so she could work.

A few hours later, he returned home with a bewildering story.

"Three women — two older and one in her mid-30s — stopped him in the produce department and in the check-out line," says Belson. "They said what a great job he was doing and that he was a great dad."

"There is a stereotype that both women and men tend to reinforce, which is that women are naturally better at raising children than men," she notes, adding that her husband said the comments were "nice but ridiculous."

"'Domestic responsibilities, especially when specific to childcare, still belong to women in many households," Francyne Zeltser, the clinical director of psychology, training and special projects at Manhattan Psychology Group, PC, tells "Even when labor isn't physical, someone — usually the mom — has to plan and coordinate dinner, school pickup and birthdays."

These expectations confirm why Belson has a lonelier experience in public.

“Once, I was at Target carrying my screaming toddler and pushing my crying baby in the stroller,” she says. “An older couple meandered by and said, ‘Cherish every moment. It goes by so fast. You’ll miss this!’”

According to Zeltser, comments like "What a great dad!" usually don't come from a derogatory place.

"The person complimenting a neutral behavior such as grocery shopping is usually comparing what they see to their own personal schema of what a father looks like," she says. "If one has low expectations for a father and someone exceeds that, that's when you might hear, 'Wow!'"

Belson says she'll make a point to appreciate struggling moms.

"If I have the time and ability to go out of my way, I will grab something (they can't reach) at the store, open a door or return their shopping cart," she says. "I'd like to tell moms they are doing a great job."