Our Story Begins:
Representing the Fathers
A lot of debate swirls around those two words together.
Madison Avenue certainly has its eyes set on those roles, depending on who they are targeting. Case in point? There was an ongoing trend in advertising to target women, particularly moms, and do that by making advertising that didn’t necessarily empower women but certainly created what many called the “stupid man” theme. Dad comes in; Dad does something stupid; either kid talks about how dumb Dad was to do this or Mom swoops in to fix things.
Suddenly, after seeing this, you can’t help but see how this theme tends to permeate advertising, print, television, it’s easy to do.
But then today I saw that there’s an even more fundamental cause for what’s going on.
Being a graduate of the University of Nebraska system I get updates on good things done by their graduates and students. One of them was by a graduate named Rachel Schmitz. Rachel studied parenting magazines over a period of time to see what the portrayal of fathers was not just in the media, but in particular, the Parenting world. The magazines and publications that target those with little versions of themselves in their households. What she found was twofold: the focus tends to be on mothering and motherhood and that “the magazines tended to portray heterosexual fathers in a stereotypical masculine light with a supporting role as secondary parents.”
Before I get inundated with hate-mail, I totally understand that the media, magazines, TV, they all have given short-shrift to women for eons. Yet when you bristle about those two words: traditional roles, you have to look at it from all perspectives, too. The upside is that Schmitz found that blogs (like this one) and online sites tend to be far more representative.
The study found that parenting magazines tended to make Dads look more bumbling and inept than actually helpful. Yet in today’s world the idea of a father is changing a lot. I use myself as an example, not as ego but because it is the way I was and am. I changed diapers. I fixed cuts and kissed cheeks and put in pony tails and pig tails and even attempted braiding hair. I have gone to the store and bought feminine hygiene products and I’ve had talks about safe sex and the difference between a one-night stand and sex with someone you truly care about. When I became the only parent in my house I learned to listen when that was all my kids wanted.
So do I believe that dads are perfect? Ha! Really? Read some early posts by me here and you’ll know that’s not the case. Do I believe moms are perfect? No. Do I miss having that other person, the Mom to bounce ideas off and discuss punishments and help understand what’s going on in my kids’ heads? Absolutely. I miss that terribly and I do believe I was a better parent much of the time with that other person next to me. But I don’t have the luxury of that and I have to work with what I have.
Sure . . . I became both parents to my kids when my wife passed away but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t a working, contributing, loving and helpful father to begin with.
Dads aren’t just spectators in the home. That’s the end result here. So why, when we’re trying to educate people on how parenting isn’t perfect and both parents need to contribute do we relegate Dad to the role of bumbling, likable guy who does only crazy guy tings?
What about you? Do you look at fathers as only a “helper” and not a contributor?