Since becoming a father, I, like many people, have spoken up about dads playing more of an involved role in the upbringing of their children — as well as the way this increased involvement is still not only being downplayed, but even ridiculed by so many. And being the kind of person who loves to whip out my soapbox from time to time, I never have a problem when it comes to defending fellow dads.
This year has been unofficially deemed the year of the dad. We’ve seen some pretty big strides taken to help break down the stereotypes of the idiot dad, but it still feels like we have a long way to go. For every hip and cool commercial, like #HowtoDad from Cheerios and the call to celebrate dads with Real Dad Moments by Dove Body Care, we still encounter examples of dads being marginalized on a daily basis. Some men even face particularly harsh criticism; such was the case with baseball player Daniel Murphy, who took off the three days of paternity leave granted to each player by MLB to attend the birth of his son. Because that paternity leave conflicted with opening day, Murphy was subjected to major criticism by many in the media.
Even long-time family traditions like apple picking are not safe from those who would like to drum up a laugh at dad’s expense. Don’t believe me, just look at the picture below:
The picture above was taken just this past September at a farm in Massachusetts where they offer apple picking, but only if children, and dads, are under strict supervision. The man who took this picture, Aaron Gouveia from the Daddy Files, wrote a stellar and pointed response detailing why stunts like this (that companies will claim were all done in the name of jokes and a good old-fashioned ribbing) are ultimately dangerous to our sons and daughters, who grow up with the idea of dad being less valuable than mom.
Look, I get that there are many out there who will say that people need to lighten up or not take things so seriously, and I’m all for a good joke. But for every one post shining a positive light on fathers and their place in the family, there are a hundred more like this one and this one suggesting that we’re a bunch of Neanderthals in the delivery room.
If we continue to push these kinds of messages — specifically, the message that dad is less than mom — and just write them off as jokes, then we as a society are doing a major disservice to our young sons. Because one day those little boys will grow up to be men, even fathers, who think that it’s OK to put less time into raising their children because society said so. Thus, the cycle of diminished male involvement will continue to grow, and for what? A cheap laugh?
I wish I could say that this stereotyping of men and fathers was isolated to ignorant companies and media looking to drum up attention (because as we all know, even bad press can be good press), but it’s not. It’s unfortunately happening in the home as well. There are still plenty of women who think taking potshots at their husbands’ competency, or lack thereof, is acceptable.
I realize in the world of blogging and social media that being provocative, sarcastic, and even inflammatory at times, gets more views and clicks than actually being earnest and heartfelt. But on the topics of birth and fatherhood, we men are proud of the role we play and deserve better than to be treated as a punchline in an awful joke.
(This post previously appeared on Papa Does Preach)
About Mike Cruse
Mike is a married father of one crazy, funny, over-the-top, beautiful toddler son. Life-long story-teller with a love for writing. Creator and lead writer at PapaDoesPreach.com. Currently still stuck in a 9-5 job, but inching closer to his dream of being a writer when he grows up, one blog post at a time. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, but now resides in Alexandria, VA. Connect with him on Facebook and on Twitter.