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!