Since I’ve become a father I have seen too many examples of how fathers are discredited of their role in raising their kids. It started me questioning if this is why so many dads are not actively involved in the process.
Take the media. There is currently a Similac commercial making the rounds that shows different groups of “mothers” – stay at home, breast feeders, lesbians, business women, and then a group of fathers. While I realize all groups are being stereotyped, when they pan to the father’s group the comment from one mother is “must be mommy’s day off”. At the end of the commercial, the groups all come together and the ad proclaims “No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first” and the shows a logo “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood”.
Although I am glad that they at least included a group of fathers in the ad, they totally discount the fathers in their end messaging.
In addition to the commercial, I saw some photos of a friend had taken on an airplane. They have two small kids and the mother posted a photo of the Mom changing the baby and the father posted a picture of the father leaving the kid unsupervised on the changing table.
Yep – it bugs the hell out of me that the father is depicted as neglectful and going to leave their kid on the changing table (like there is enough space on a plane to even turn around from your kid), while the attentive mother is leaning over their baby taking perfect care of them. What is the reasoning behind furthering the stereotypes that dads are useless and aren’t capable of changing a diaper?
Then on a visit to the grocery store (yep the grocery store AGAIN! – maybe it is time to change grocery stores!), my cashier asked me “Is mommy working?”, insinuating that I would only have my child with me as a last resort. English is her second language, and I was hungry and had a cranky baby, so instead of just smiling and playing it off I responded “There is no Mommy – she has Two Daddies” and left it at that. While I’m not sure if she understood, I know the bag boy did because he gave me an odd look before going back to bagging my groceries.
I am a member of a few “dad” groups on Facebook that have discussed this topic but honestly I haven’t read too much as it makes me mad that we still have to have this discussion. I love that the National At-Home Dad Network created a t-shirt that says “Dad’s Don’t Babysit (It’s Called Parenting)”as a way to spread awareness and also as a fundraiser for dads that want to attend their conference this Fall in Raleigh, NC. The fact that the conference is holding its 20th Anniversary Convention this year is an indication that things are changing!
When we were trying to find baby products for dads it was almost impossible. There are baby items out there for fathers but when you have 21 hours notice that you are bringing your child home like we did you aren’t going to find them at Babys-R-Us and you end up with a lime green Jeep brand diaper bag! If there were more items I’m sure dads would buy them – or moms buy them for their husbands.
My main wish is that advertising and media outlets would start to depict fathers as capable of caring for their children instead of discounting their participation. I feel that if fathers of all kinds, gay – straight – divorced – single, saw positive portrayals of their role in the media instead of being the running joke they would become more engaged in raising their children.