In Defense of Dads

I’ve been thinking about how dads get treated in the media.

If we believed what we see on TV, we’d know that dads are at best incompetent buffoons and at worst maliciously lazy.

Have a look at the EvenFlo ad called “How To Survive 3 AM Feedings.”  It is so bad that I actually had to try a few times to get through it.  I just kept getting angry and having to turn it off.

Aside from the various breastfeeding myths that this video promotes (which I won’t get into in this post), Jack, the dad in this series, not only manages to spill his wife’s hard-won breastmilk all over the counter in the very finest traditions of as-seen-on-TV incompetence* but he actually leaves it all out for his wife to clean up.  Then, he ignores the crying baby who has very briefly settled and sneaks back into bed pretending that he’s already fed the baby.  His wife is woken up a few seconds later to the cries of the still hungry baby and he informs her that it’s her turn.

*You know, like the folks that can’t get the toothpaste on the toothbrush without the automatic toothpaste dispenser for only $19.99?

Here’s another goldie from EvenFlo called “Repair Your Husband’s Bruised Ego.”

Apparently, according to the commercial, it’s better to preserve a man’s ego by allowing him to install a carseat incorrectly (it should be rear-facing for a child that age) rather than going ahead and asking for help from carseat installation experts.  Something about penis size I think.

Now it’s not just EvenFlo putting out commercials with idiot dads.

Here’s one from AT&T.  At the end, the dad tries to put the diaper on the baby’s head.  Really?

Here’s a huggies one with another dad who can’t seem to change a diaper:

The list goes on and on and on.  Start looking for it as you watch TV.  You will notice it particularly with kid/baby products and cleaning supplies.

“Aw, geez, Molly.  It’s just a joke.  Can’t you take a joke?”

Well, yeah.  I can take a joke.  I like jokes.  I laugh at jokes.  But quite honestly, when “just a joke” marginalizes an entire segment of the population, I just don’t find it particularly funny.  And these ads do marginalize dads.  These ads tell parents that it’s okay for Dad to be an idiot.  It’s okay for him to be the butt of the jokes.  Who cares if he can’t change a diaper?  Mom will swoop in and do it better anyway (and often with a condescending leer).

This just isn’t fair.  Dads deserve better.  They deserve for companies to treat them as equal partners in raising their children.  More and more dads are becoming stay-at-home dads.  Dads cook.  Dads clean.  Dads do laundry.

Moms deserve better, too.  This played out joke gives permission to some men to behave in incompetent and maliciously lazy ways.  It reinforces the notion that the mom is the primary parent and the dad is just window dressing.  It leaves her with the brunt of the child-rearing, and in families where both parents work full-time, this kind of pressure can push moms past their breaking point.

It’s not fair to dads, moms, or kids.

So advertising companies, please.  I’m begging you.  Let this tired joke die.  It’s old.  It’s played out.  Let’s show some commercials with the kinds of dads I’m familiar with: dads who are actively engaged in their childrens’ lives, who are intelligent, who carry an equal share of the housekeeping responsibilities, and who partner equally with their wives to keep the family together.  Let’s leave off with the stupid and lazy stereotype.  We all deserve better.

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13 thoughts on “In Defense of Dads

  1. Spot on! I hate these commercials. My husband gets irked with these commercials, too; He’ll just look at me and ask things like, “Am I really the only father in America who can actually change a diaper correctly?”

    Oh, and people who say a father is “babysitting” his chuildren? HATEHATEHATEHATEHATE. He’s the father- he’s PARENTING his children, not babysitting!

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  2. Amen!!! This has bugged me for YEARS. Way to model destructive fatherhood models – great way to negatively affect men, marriages, children, and families. Great article! 🙂

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  3. GAAAAH! Urge to kill….RISING.

    My husband has been dad since the “baby” was four. Granted, he missed the nursing and rear-facing car seat and 3AM feeding years, but damn, he’s still her PARENT. He’s been peed on, puked on, cleaned up after her when she’s done these things, supervised bath time, dried her tears after some stupid teenage boy broke her heart, and when we’ve babysat someone else’s baby, he’s given bottles, he’s burped, he’s walked the floor and rocked, and yes, he has changed diapers and done it well.

    I hate the perpetuation of the myth that motherhood is this mystical thing, fraught with pitfalls because if you aren’t a serene, super-clean, sweet as the day is long mother, “ur doin it rong”, and every decision you make is questioned by people who “know better”. And I hate the perpetuation of the myth that dads can’t do anything, and if they step in to take care of their own children so Mom can do something else ( like WORK, there are stay at home dads, people), they’re given all this praise for “babysitting” their own children. Dude, it’s called parenting, and you’re not any more awesome than Mom. Maybe you should BOTH be giving each other kudos, hmmm?

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    1. Mrs. K, you’re right. This hurts both moms and dads. Dads because it marginalizes them and gives them permission to behave in destructive ways, and moms because it presents the false notion of the beatific motherhood.

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  4. Great points!!! It’s so true. Yes, my husband had a LOT to learn and I had a LOT that I had to teach him, but now…he rocks! In addition to being a great dad, he’s had to be a great everthing these psat few months as I’ve had severe hyperemeses. The amount he’s taken on and continues to do s inspiring. The media needs to rethink what they are doing and step it up! Love your post!!!

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    1. I feel the same way about my husband. Since the HG, he’s been carrying the full weight of the household. In addition to working full time, he does all the cooking, grocery shopping, and household chores. He is amazing.

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  5. Great post!

    My husband was amazing through the hell of HG.

    He supported me entirely through labour and birth (the midwife even teased him about pushing with me!!)

    He then took over the “skin to skin” contact and bonding with baby soon after birth when I was first sick several times and then whisked to theatre for stitching.

    He came in to visit us every day while I had to stay in hospital and changed nappies, helped me express breastmilk while me and my baby got to grips with latching on.

    Since coming home he has done all the cooking and cleaning so that I can focus entirely on feeding my baby who has a huge appetite. And has encouraged me to express seeing as though I leak so much milk during and between feeds, so he can give a bit by syringe once in a while and the rest can be frozen until the time comes when we’re happy for one of the nighttime feeds to be given by bottle so that he can take part in feeding (something we both want to try).

    He dotes on his baby, rocks him to soothe him, winds him after feeds for me, and brings me hot drinks and snacks when I’m attached to the baby for several hours as he cluster feeds.

    I couldn’t be the mummy that I am becoming without the daddy he is becoming. Dad’s do so much and this should be recognised far more than it is.

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    1. You know, I would love to see a dad like this pictured in a commercial. Really and truly. Wouldn’t it be great? And really, there’s plenty of humor to find in those kinds of situations as well. We don’t need to belittle dads to find funny situations.

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  6. That first commercial is actually surprisingly accurate for me… As are most of the commercials. Where did you women find your husbands?? Heck, I was up all night with a fever, mastitis, and a one-month-old baby the other night and still had to wake up at 7:30 AM to get our 5-year-old ready for school… At my husband’s request since he doesn’t know how to make a lunch, apparently.

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  7. People — and dads — generally rise to the level of expectations.

    The way to deal with a dad who doesn’t know how to make a lunch is simple. You say NO. No, I am not doing it. No, you are not incompetent. No, your want to not make a lunch is not more important than my health and well-being.

    My husband is an awesome father of 4 — but I needed to say no a lot at first, while also telling him he could handle it.

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  8. Great point! My hubby points this out all the time. It really hurts him. He is probably the best dad I know. Totally smart, totally competent. Even so, I’m sure average dads should be offended, too 🙂

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