hen I got into dadblogging I dove into the larger dadblogging community to see what was out there, what the culture was like. We were still feeling the pain of the Great Recession, many fathers found themselves Stay-At-Home Dads (SAHD’s). Instead of pouring their souls into a 9-5 job for a paycheck, they put everything they had into the 5-9 job of raising their children. For many of them their blogs were a release, and a way of connecting with a broader community of like-minded people, and in doing so they found that one of the things they had in common was the fact that they took exception to the way dads were generally portrayed in the media. These were fathers who were giving everything they had to being the best fathers they could be. They justifiably took a lot of pride in that fact, and suddenly realized that the media at large tended to give fathers (and fatherhood) a bum wrap.
By way of example, check out how the dads are depicted in this movie trailer:
Fathers in sitcoms were typically portrayed as perhaps well-meaning, but ultimately incompetent dunderheads. Fathers in children’s movies rarely played a positive role, if they were present at all (there isn’t a father-figure to be found in the “Toy Story” films). Television commercials were aimed primarily at women/mothers, and if fathers were depicted at all they were shown as absolutely incompetent, facepalm inducing idiots who are completely flummoxed by adhesive diaper tabs, who check sports scores on their phones during their kids’ recitals, etc… In real economic terms, major corporations were investing in mommy-blogs (Disney now owns Babble.com), and reaching out to the mommy-market. Fathers were largely overlooked (as opposed to “men”, who are aggressively marked to by beer, nudie magazines and the NFL).
I’ll be the first person to admit I feed into these stereotypes. I joke with my patients all the time about how without our wives we men would be a bunch of feral animals roaming the streets – it’s the women in our lives who civilize us. Whenever I lecture I show a picture of me and my wife and make the joke “My life is like almost every sitcom or commercial you see on TV — some fat slob married to an incredibly hot chick. Every day of my life is like an episode of ‘King of Queens’ or ‘Accordng to Jim’. I don’t know why the universe works out this way, I’m just glad it does.” Of course I’m joking, but from the perspective of the dad-bloggers who came before me, my jokes are part of the problem.
At first I thought dadbloggers’ outrage (Perhaps the word “outrage” is too inflamitory, given the current political environment in our country. But I’m about to make another political reference so we’ll go with it.) was a little like sentiment behind current efforts to contain voter-fraud on the national stage – which is to say outrage towards a problem that really doesn’t exist. But now that I was aware that it was “a thing” I was more in tune, and I saw what the dadbloggers were reacting against.
Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but being “in tune” means seing both sides of any equation. As I consume media with a little more of an eye towards how dads are portrayed, my attention is also drawn to portrayals of dads doing it right. Some time ago I posted about how fast my daughter is growing up, and I linked to the following two commercials which I think paint dads in a really good light.
This blog was originally intended to be a celebration of dads doing it right. I realize how self-serving that sounds given the fact that I usually blog about me and my family, but I try to bring in as much external stuff as I can. In that spirit I’d like to share a few more examples of commercials I’ve run across that reflect well on fathers and fatherhood. Watch and enjoy:
This Dorkdaddy.com blogging experiment has put me in touch with innumerable dads who are consistently doing it right. In fact just last week through a mutual friend on Facebook I met a dad who, not even a week after I published what I thought was sure to get me a nomination for “Father of the Year“, published his own bit of digital fathering awesomeness that totally blew mine out of the water (/shakes fist at R.F). They are an inspiration and validation for dads everywhere. If nothing else they are shining examples of the notion that there is very little in the world more valuable in the life of a child than a father who’s all-in.
To all you dads out there doing it right, I salute you.
…and so many more.