I’m going to take this opportunity to stray a little bit from what I normally write about. Please note that this is not a knock on any of the great mothers out there as well (stay-at-home or not) and the hard work that they do. I happen to be married to one, and consider myself very fortunate.
This is for the dads out there who don’t reflect the societal stereotype that they are dumb and clueless about parenting. This portrayal is especially true in advertisements, one in particular that comes to mind is the Huggies commercial that was aired earlier this year (in their defense, they did remove the advertisement and make changes to their campaign, but not before receiving backlash from the public).
I just finished reading another article aimed at painting the perception that dads are clueless, dumb, not involved, and can’t raise their own children without soliciting advice from their child’s mother (or parenting “experts” – I would love to meet one of those, by the way) and I was insulted. Not just for myself, but for all of the dads who are engaged, loving, caring, and involved in their children’s lives.
To summarize the article:
“Dads are incapable of raising children and will do everything possible to make sure they die of some rare form of [insert disease here] since they’re too stupid to notice adverse changes in their child’s behavior until Mom points it out because it’s so blatantly obvious, yet only a mother’s instinct can bring about the realization that something is wrong. Oh, and they will never change their child’s diaper or clean up vomit because it’s soooooo disgusting so they will wallow in their own defecation and puke for all eternity.”
Let’s turn the tables briefly. Imagine a commercial depicting a woman in a hardware store looking for a tool required to complete a household maintenance job. She’s portrayed as having no clue what she’s doing and is forced to call her husband who shows up and gets the tool himself, pointing out how obvious it was. Imagine the justifiable backlash that would come from that kind of a commercial.
How imbecilic can the writer of this article be? Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. Yes, there is an alarming number of fatherless children in America (and the world in general). However, recent studies have shown that the number of stay-at-home dads has increased exponentially. What was once a small sliver in society has now become a sizable chunk, and these are dads who left the workforce completely to be the primary caretaker of their children. This is not the 1950s anymore, where women were 24-hour mothers and men were 8-hour breadwinners.
I’m not writing this for pity. I’m not looking for accolades or a pat on the back. I don’t want an apology from Huggies or any other company that likes to play on the perception of incompetent fathers. I don’t need advertisements to tell me I’m doing a great job as a father and that I’m perfectly capable. I already know this because my wife and son love me and appreciate me, and that’s all I need. I’m writing this because it’s unfair that fathers today are defined not by what they contribute to their children, but by what the truly incompetent fathers have not. I’m writing this on behalf of every dad out there who feels disrespected by the stereotypes and perceptions laden upon them undeservedly.
We are not perfect, but that doesn’t make us incompetent. We can do it all, too.
So, here’s to you, dads, who have the superpowers to wash the dishes, go grocery shopping, cook dinner, vacuum, mop the floor, and do the laundry.
Oh yeah, and raise your kids, too.