Is This Really The ‘Rise Of The Dad Wars’ Or Just A Ploy?

I’m a Dad. I love my kids and they make me smile. Look up, there’s proof! I’m pretty good at it too.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Dads and their evolving role in the parenting landscape. It sounds as if us Dads are rising from the ashes of mediocrity and claiming our stake as equal partners in the raising of our children with the Moms of the world.

I was recently invited to participate in an interview for Salon.com, for a piece entitled “Rise of the Dad Wars”. The article was about Stay At Home Dads and the different challenges they face as primary caregivers, who also happen to be men. You should note that while I’m not a SAHD in the traditional sense of the word, I am home more than 75% of the time so technically I qualify…

To give an example of how green I am to the blogging world, I had never heard of Salon, nor had I ever done an interview before, so my excitement level overshadowed my ability to ask any questions about the upcoming article. Something I have since learned to do.

When I woke up on the morning the article was published, I was surprised to see a couple tweets from some Dad bloggers who I have a lot of respect for, congratulating me on the mention. I think this was about the point I started to panic about who I had interviewed for and exactly what it is that I had said about being a Dad. I think I was just hoping that I hadn’t said anything to embarrass myself or other Dads.

Upon reading the article, I was happy with my contribution and even got the closing quote, which was very (insert smart person word) Awesome! More tweets began to roll in throughout the day and I even found out that the geniuses behind the popular site Dad Labs were discussing it on their live stream that day.

The point of this post however, is not to gloat about being featured in a high ranking news article (okay, maybe a little), but it’s to take a realistic look at what this Dad, at least, feels about the way I am treated in public while alone with my kids.

What followed the article was a strange phenomenon for me. I got an email to do a radio interview about it; and then another; and then another after that. One of them even gave me this line of advice, “Make sure you say the part about feeling alienated at the play groups”. Huh? But I told you that I don’t feel like people treat me differently when I’m out with my kids. That ‘alienated’ line was just a minor observation. Why are they trying to focus only on the negative stuff? War.

Could it be that I am the only one who feels like when I take my kids to their swim class or play group, I am actually getting envious looks from the Moms and not Dagger Eyes? No War.

Sure, when I go to the park or the local Sippy Cup Café, I am surrounded by groups of Moms, most of whom are there together, and I ‘sometimes’ feel like an outsider. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t just walk over and say hi to them. It’s not their responsibility to make sure the ‘Dad’ is invited into their private circle of friends. No War.

I also get unsolicited parenting advice from people I do and don’t know. Last time I checked though, any man or woman who’s ever had children (or a mother-in-law)((Not my mother-in-law though)) has received unsolicited parenting advice, so rule that one out too. No War.

Really, if you think about it, the majority of the hoopla surrounding Dads lately has been created by the corporations and the media. Look at the Huggies “Dad Test” ads. Dads, myself included, were insulted by the concept that the “toughest test imaginable” for Huggies’ products was: Dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for 5 days. Of course we were going to take action; we don’t like to be seen as imbeciles. War.

Point is, this Ad had nothing to do with Moms or even other Dads seeing us in a negative light, it was simply a marketing error. No War.

**Please note that I’m not trying to bash on Huggies here, because they showed remorse and humility by showing up to the Dad 2.0 Summit in Texas to take the wrath from all the Dads in attendance. They then changed the ads to a more suitable and acceptable portrayal (In my mind at least). **

The newest commercial that has Dads questioning a company’s marketing strategy, is from the folks at Proctor & Gamble. The commercial in question, seen below, seems like a spot for the upcoming Olympic Games and really doesn’t promote any sort of product. The only real information we get is that P&G supports Moms, which is fine by me because I love Moms and both myself and my children have great ones.

The issues that some Dads have with the commercial are as follows. First, where are the Dads?? I love Moms and would never take away from anything they do as parents but as an involved father and a child of an involved father myself, I would like to think that, on the whole, both parents would be involved in the responsibility of raising a child who becomes an Olympic athlete. War.

Secondly, and this one applies to both Moms and Dads, the ad implies that being a parent is the “hardest job in the world”, when in fact, being a parent isn’t a job at all. This is pointed out in excellent detail by blogger Beta Dad in this article at DadCentric. Double War.

So you see folks, if there is a ‘Dad War’ brewing somewhere, it doesn’t seem to be between Moms and Dads or even Dads and Dads. I’ve never been asked to move to the back of the bus because I boarded alone with my kids. No one has ever asked me to leave a play group until my wife shows up. I certainly don’t get sad stares or offers for help while pushing a high chair with my foot, while holding my son’s hand and carrying a tray full of food at the local McDonald’s

The Dad Wars seem to be like some mythical creature, created and maintained by major corporations in conjunction with the media. When I leave the house alone with my kids, I’m more concerned with remembering lunches and diapers than I am with how I am being perceived as a father.

That’s just my take on it though. As they say in business, Results May Vary.

As a father, do you ever feel like you are being discriminated against when you are out with your kids by yourself? I’d love to get some different point of views on it because I just don’t see it happening around me.

Moms, do you find it “creepy” to see a Dad at the park by himself with his kids? What goes through your mind? Please Share!

Cheers!

50 replies
  1. gina valley
    gina valley says:

    Excellent post.

    It’s sad the way corporations and the media strive to create division where none exists, all in the battle for the almighty dollar.

    In answer to your question, no, I’d never find it creepy to find a dad at the park by himself with his kids. It’s great for kids to spend time alone with each of their parents. Dads are parents. Moms are parents. It’s so very sad that so many people think that time with their children is babysitting.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I get it in a way, drama sells right? I just hope people can see through it all and take it for what it really is, entertainment value.

      Reply
  2. ashley picco (mamawee)
    ashley picco (mamawee) says:

    Great post Chris. When I am out and see dads with their kids – I think it is AWESOME. However – knowing a number of dads myself, I do think that it still is NOT the norm.
    And when I DO see dads out alone with kids, they (for the most part) are older kids.

    IT also seems to be YOUNGER dads that I see out and about with babies and young toddlers.
    I do think there is a stereotype around SAHD though – my brother was one for quite awhile when his youngest were little. He had twins and it didn’t seem like an effort for him to go out to the grocery store alone with them – but it would have been for MANY parents – regardless of Sex

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Ashley! I agree with you that it’s definitely not the norm to see the Dad out alone with the younger kids but the tide seems to be turning. I think it’s a lot less strange when you do see it happen.

      And so true about groceries. I don’t care what sex you are, alone with two young kids can be a nightmare, lol.

      Reply
  3. Lisa Marie
    Lisa Marie says:

    Seeing a dad involved in their children’s lives makes me happy. I hate the media hypes that try to pit us all against each other. I’m fine to share the McDonald’s playroom with a Dad and kids. We’re all in this challenging task of raising little people together!
    Nice post.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Lisa, well said! Besides, everyone in the McDonald’s playroom is equally embarrassed to be seen in there anyway, LOL!

      Reply
  4. Shairbearg
    Shairbearg says:

    I used to go to a Mommy group before I moved away, and we had a couple of Dads come (not at the same times), and it wasn’t really weird or creepy. I mean it would be creepy if they were there and had no kids. But coming as a parent to the group was fine. There was the times where they would be sitting on their own. But one of us would usually call them over and include them. Although you get a lot of new mom’s in the group you do end up with conversations about breastfeeding, and labour! haha But they handled it with class.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      That’s why I think if a Dad feels alienated, the best thing to do would be to go over and start a conversation. At least that way he can say he tried.

      Reply
  5. All For My Boy
    All For My Boy says:

    Chris,
    Awesome post my friend, although I know friends who have faced the discriminating looks, and made to feel left out at play groups, I have not.
    I am a SAHD of a 1 year old son, and hearing the horror stories of the way dads, are made to feel, joining a play group frighten the heck out of me. However I was welcomed with open arms.
    I am in the same mindset that, its more the corporate side of the world that is creating the war, but can still be found in some tight knit circles of certain play groups.
    I hear the “sippy cup” is a great place…..guess I should really get to checking them out.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I can say that I have never felt like I was unwanted at a play place. Outsider, sure. But not unwanted.
      As for the Sippy Cup, it’s fantastic for small kids.

      Reply
  6. Brandy Insane Mamacita
    Brandy Insane Mamacita says:

    Another well written, thought provoking post Chris!

    I think it’s great that more dads are becoming SAHDs. And my husband is always out alone with the kids (mostly on his days off) and loves it.

    I think it’s awful that these “wars” between moms and dads are happening. Why can’t we all just get along?

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I think we get along just fine. There is absolutely discrimination and guys absolutely tease other guys but The majority of the blow ups happen after a news source takes something out of context and spins it out of control.

      Reply
  7. Alyssa
    Alyssa says:

    Congratulations on your accomplishments. Proud to see dads taking a stand. Too many still live in a world of closed minds that child raising is a “woman’s job”. Okay so the babies may need us for breast feeding (which can now be pumped) but other than that, what’s the big deal about a grown man taking responsibility for his children by taking care of them and being the complete opposite your your typical stereotype “lazy dad”. I am proud of all the dads who do their share and some, maybe if everyone took it as an example instead of trying to turn it into a media battle, the world would be a happier place 🙂

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I don’t want to take away from the Mom’s here. Especially with the P&G ad, I get it, Moms are great and need to be celebrated. I just think it’s great to see so many Dads who want to be more involved in raising their kids.

      Reply
  8. Phil
    Phil says:

    Yes, I do feel that quite a bit actually, but my attitude about it has transformed quite a bit since the early days of having kids.

    When I finally got out with my child when she was about 6 months old, one of the first places I went to was all moms.I was shunned, ignored, given dirty looks, you name it. I went from being excited about living in a modern world where parents were on a level playing field to the harsh reality that I was going to be seen as an outcast.

    Of course, the reality was that I just went to the wrong place to begin with. Eventually I found places where I could have half-normal conversations with some of the moms, making a few friends along the way, and ultimately I found the holy grail of parent’s groups: a Dads group.

    So yes, the discrimination does exist, but from what I’ve heard, it exists even more with moms. And the wars between moms are out of control sometimes (breast v milk, career mom v sahm, etc etc). And the point of all this is that I’ve learned that the people who do the discriminating are people I have ZERO desire to get to know, anyway, so it’s a win-win. They weed themselves out for me.

    Great post, btw.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Well said Phil! I agree the Mom Wars are definitely more prevalent than any Dad War out there. As far as Dad Groups, I found mine on Twitter and I love it!

      Reply
  9. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    you are probably right, marketing people love to create controversy where there is none. I love seeing men out with babies, I think all women do. But I would still say you are not the NORM dude, most men I know are not home for 75% of their children’s day. my own husband sees our boys for 2 hours on a good day during the week. if he works late, he doesn’t see them at all and it’s not that uncommon. On weekends he has me here to help run the show, so while he does his best, he is not near as comfortable or competent as Mom is ya know? not to say he can’t handle himself if I go away for the weekend, but caregiving wasn’t an instinct he was born with it was learned along the way.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks for that point Jen! I agree that there are obviously circumstances that prevent men from spending as much as they’d like with their kids. SAHD’s are a different thing altogether but it sounds to me like your husband still loves spending time with the kids, which is really all that matters in the end!

      Reply
  10. tommy riles
    tommy riles says:

    Chris, great take on all of this. That’s cool that you got some press! But not so cool that some of it wanted to paint dads in an odd way. I have never felt discriminated against when out in public Daddying. People praise us dads.

    Reply
  11. Martina
    Martina says:

    My husband has been a SAHD for five years now and I can’t recall him ever complaining about stereotyping. Mind you, he doesn’t go to play groups.

    Reply
  12. SoberJulie
    SoberJulie says:

    Funny, 8 years ago when my husband took parental leave and I went back to work nobody was calling him to do TV shows or pieces…what I mean is that it seems to me it’s become just another fad to throw a spotlight on.

    It’s not a fad nor a stereotype, Fathers have participated on all different levels for YEARS. Do you know that last week when I went ot make my daughter’s lunch I had no idea what she likes in her sandwich? Why? Because my husband makes their lunches….he even does their hair…GASP.

    I say thank god for the dads who will dive right in, I know my Mommy’s group love Hubby as much as they dig me.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      That’s so great to hear. I think the media stuff is why I wanted to post about it. We don’t need it to be in the media but we certainly don’t need it to be in there as a negative thing. I think it’s important to speak up when you see something fishy happening and that’s what I’m trying to do. I learned that from my new dad blogging buddies, lol!
      That’s funny about the lunches too! I can’t wait to do my daughter’s hair! When she grows some that is…

      Reply
  13. Deanna T. (@MapleLeafMommy)
    Deanna T. (@MapleLeafMommy) says:

    Thirty-something man alone at the park is creepy. A thirty-something man alone at the park with with his kids is awesome. Certainly no negative connotations in mind. I wish I could say I’d just think, hey there’s a parent with their kids and feel the same if it were a guy or gal. But the truth is I probably think, wow look at that dad out with his kids, good on him, because the reality is not every dad is willing to take an active part in their kids life.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Good point Deanna! I guess it’d be hypocritical to ask for equal treatment but then be happy about being seen as a super dad just because I went to the park….Call me a hypocrite I guess, LOL

      Reply
  14. Whispered Inspirations
    Whispered Inspirations says:

    Honestly, having babies in tow makes for major chick magnets. Women love this and mother especially appreciate a dad that is taking a full and EQUAL role in parenting his children. In the end and having worked in the media, I know that sensationalism sells, whenever there is controversy or a divide, you market that. That’s what a lot of companies bank on. I only know you online (hoping to meet you and a lot more peeps soonsies) but, I see that you are an amazing dad, active and involved. I’m glad that you stand up for what you believe in and didn’t get corralled like many do. Big ups man, big ups. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Ninja Mommers
    Ninja Mommers says:

    No way do I find it “Creepy” when a dad takes his kids to the park by himself. In fact, I find it awesome! It makes me happy to see a Dad interacting with his kids. Do I find it “Creepy” when a Mom takes her kids to the park? NO. So why would a Dad doing so make it any different.

    Get er done!! You are phenomenal.

    Reply
  16. MBAMama
    MBAMama says:

    I don’t think anything of seeing a dad alone in the park with his kid(s). I mean, why not? Even in our very traditional household, mom gets time away from the kids! And dad gets time alone with the kids.
    I am happy to hear I am not the only one who thought the Huggies Dads commercial was lame. 5 dads, one house, for the day? Really? I spend most days in and out of our house with any number of our four children. Where’s the commercial for that? Seems like this is just the latest round of marketing antics and/or an attempt to over correct previous marketing foibles.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Us Dads are pretty laid back about a lot of things but that commercial seemed to rub a lot of us the wrong way. I’m so glad they decided to change the ad, very classy move.

      Reply
  17. Super Earthling
    Super Earthling says:

    My daughter is grown but when she was little, my husband would often take her to the park on the weekends just to have some dad-daughter time together. I think he was the only guy doing it at the time. Today I see dads out alone with their kids (or with other dads and their kids) often and I think it’s fabulous!

    I would have loved it if my dad had shown that kind of interest in me and my sisters and brother when we were kids.

    Children need love and attention from both parents. I applaud what you’re doing for your kids, Chris. They’ll always remember it fondly when they’re grown.

    As for wars? The hell with what anyone else thinks. Just keep on being the kind of dad you are. 🙂

    –Susan

    Reply
  18. Desiree
    Desiree says:

    I just got home from the YMCA and just realized now that the whole time my child was playing I was having a conversation with a dad who was there with his daughter…I guess I did NOT find it creepy, I thought nothing of it until reading this ad. I enjoyed the conversation.

    Reply
  19. jetts31
    jetts31 says:

    If I had experienced any discrimination I didn’t realize it. While I think its important the role of dads is increased and shown to be as important as mom’s, I think we run the risk of becoming hyper-sensitive to even the slightest perceived dig. Dads want the same respect as Mom’s in the market because why? For more site recognition? For sponsorship’s? For a paycheck?
    I guess I write because its my passion. No matter who reads it and certainly not for who pays me for it (not many I can tell you that).
    I try to concern myself with my kids and my family and being the best Dad I can be. If Huggies or P&G think I’m a bumbling idiot, so be it, I’m not responsible for them.
    Nice post. Congrats on the Salon interview too!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks Jimmy, I appreciate the comment. I write for the passion of it too, there is certainly no money in this….What really prompted me to write this was the radio interviews that followed the Salon article. I was shocked at how many of them kept trying to get me to talk negative about Moms! It just wasn’t going to happen and I thought I’d write about my experiences.
      It’ll feel good to get back to posts about me wearing costumes after all this stuff, lol!

      Reply
  20. Nicole | Domesticated Momma
    Nicole | Domesticated Momma says:

    My husband is very hands on with the kids. I hate to say it… but in ways it’s like I’m off duty when he’s around. He works very long hours and cherishes his time with the wee munchkins. What Dad doesn’t?! He’s the Dad that goes to the park and does the groceries with them. It boggles my mind the hard time some people give him about doing this sorts of things. He had a woman actually tell him that she felt sorry for him as he was wearing our daughter and strolling through the grocery store. Not sorry that he had to shop with Cadence, but sorry that his wife wasn’t in the picture to take charge and do it instead. Um what?!

    I loved reading this post. It had such an Aha factor to it!

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      Thanks for the compliments, they mean a lot! As for the grocery thing, I don’t know what it’s like to go to the grocery store without the kids….With my wife running the day care, I try to take them (or at least one of them) every time so she gets a small break. I have yet to be shunned for it though, lol.

      Reply
  21. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    I have an uncle, who was a more involved parent of his daughters than I as a mother ever was with my boys. When there were school field trips, he would voluntarily take someones afternoon shift so he could go along. When my Aunt was working, he got them ready for school (yes he was fashion challenged and they wore some god-awful outfits to school but who cares really?) and made their lunches and everything else. The one and only thing I remember the man getting angry about? Being asked by store clerks or other strangers if he was “babysitting” his daughters. I as a mother have never been asked if I was babysitting my boys – yet these women could not see how he as a father would find this offensive.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I get frustrated at the babysitting thing, it’s totally ridiculous! I also understand that most of the time it’s said in jest and not meant to be an insult.
      I too am fashion challenged with my kids. Spiderman costume to the park doesn’t seem so bad to me….

      Reply
  22. Beta Dad
    Beta Dad says:

    Hey! Thanks for the shoutout!

    I think we’ve already talked about this a bit, but I definitely think the Dad Wars thing is just a ridiculous pageview grab. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author didn’t even give that title to the piece, but her editor did to spice it up.

    I’m glad to see all the comments on here from other guys who haven’t felt isolated at the playground or other mom-dominated spaces. I’ve almost always felt welcomed by moms. It’s a very interesting topic that I’ve meant to write about. Maybe I’ll wait until the next goofy Dad Wars item surfaces.

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I totally agree, it seems completely ridiculous. The radio interviews were exhausting too, until the one I did this afternoon. They totally understood it and only wanted to talk about the positive stuff, which was great! Here’s the link to the interview in case anyone wants to hear it.

      Reply
  23. Gal
    Gal says:

    Great post! What I don’t get is why, if I’m at a coffee shop with a crying baby I get evil eyes, but when my husband is at a coffee shop with a screaming baby he’s dad of the year. Any clue?

    Reply
    • Chris
      Chris says:

      I’ve never encountered that issue either. To me, screaming babies are screaming babies and nobody wants them to interrupt their relax time. I’ve gotten evil eyes for the tantrums before too, you are not alone! LOL.

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] lastly, and I realize this could be another media attempt at provocation, but the title pissed me off. “Are you mom enough?” asks the cover. I think that if Times […]

  2. […] Speaking of the new dad image, one of the dads from the Rise of the Dad Wars article says there is no war, it’s just a ploy. Sure, sometimes he feels different when it’s just him and the moms at the playground, but […]

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