Dads aren’t imbeciles

I told you recently about our switch to Internet T.V. We’re still enjoying it, but in the process we now have to watch a few commercials during shows where on our DVR we’d be able to fast forward through them.  And during one show, it’s possible to see the same commercial two or three times.  I’m not a huge fan of commercials, but there’s one in particular that has annoyed me of late and it’s for a wall paint.

I have nothing against paint.  I also don’t know much about paint other than having picked out some and painted with it along the way in our home.  My problem isn’t with the product.  My problem is with the portrayal of fatherhood.  In this commercial, a dad is shown at home with his three small children on a video phone call with his wife who appears to be on a business trip.  He and the kids assure her that everything is fine and he’s taken care of them well.  The call ends and the camera zooms out to show the whole room is covered in complete mess with gunk all over the walls except for the square spot just behind where they were making their phone call.  A bit humorous perhaps, but what an affront to modern fathers.

The first time we saw the commercial, I turned to my husband and asked if this kind of stuff annoys him.  Yep.  It does.  This commercial is far from the only thing making fun of modern dads and implying their incompetence.  Sitcoms show fathers befuddled by child care tasks.  Comic strips do the same.  I’m not even so sure it’s a recent problem.  I remember about 10 years ago when a cousin of mine had a baby and my grandma and great-aunt told her to never leave the baby alone with her husband because he wouldn’t know what to do.

I’m sure there are a few dads out there who are clueless, but I’ve never met them.  My own dad was involved in our upbringing.  He worked full-time and often overtime, but he was there.  The only area that was a bit trickier for him than it was for my mom was styling my hair, but the times that happened worked out OK.  I remember my dad doing many household chores at different points, especially when schedules shifted around and he had a weekday off.  He’d do laundry and ironing.  He cooked.  The man still makes the best breakfast food on the planet.

My awesome husband who is a great dad to our kids. He's not a bumbling idiot as modern society often portrays.

I know a smattering of dads of little ones right now from my own husband to friends to relatives.  While no dad is perfect, I’ve witnessed these guys being hands-on and taking care of their children.  Does my husband do everything the exact same way I do?  Nope.  Is that a bad thing?  Also nope.  In working from a home office, my husband is able to be even more hands-on right now.  Most of the time he takes our daughter to and from preschool and often dance classes.  He has these great conversations with her.  He makes her laugh.  He can change our son’s diaper as quickly as I can.  He can feed the kids.  He can keep them entertained and safe without destroying our house.  He is quite competent.

It might be easy to brush this commercial off as harmless humor.  It might be easy to brush aside the other things that make fun of dads as well, but let’s think about the message we’re sending to these men.  We’re telling them that no matter what they do that they aren’t good enough.  We’re telling them that they may have had a hand in creating the children but they have no clue what to do with them once they’re here.  We’re telling them they have no place in the home.  All of those messages are false.  All of those messages are damaging.  And what they could lead to, if we’re not careful, is dads backing off from being with their kids which means our kids would lose out on one of the most important relationships in their life.  That’s not acceptable.

We don’t see commercials poking fun at moms’ incompetence.  Can you imagine the outrage that would result?  Why are we not outraged at this portrayal of fathers?  We should be.  It’s an attack on families and the last thing families need right now is any other form of attack.  There are already too many things trying to pull families apart.

I have written many times in this blog about building up other mothers and their confidence as a parent.  I have not written nearly as much about building up dads.  And so I offer this to that dads I know who are getting it right and who are involved with their kids.  I offer this to my own husband and others like him who are in the trenches of parenthood and trying their hardest and deserve better than to be ridiculed by society:

– You are an awesome dad.

– I see what you’re doing.  Your kids see what you’re doing. You  are putting your best effort forward.  You are rocking your fatherhood journey!

– You’re not the imbecile that modern society tends to imply you are.

– You are strong and competent.  You play with the kids in different ways from mamas that are just as important.

– You are appreciated.  I say it again, we appreciate you.

– The way you love our children makes me love you even more.

– You are quite capable as a father and are figuring this thing out well as you go.  Hats off to you!

– You are an integral part of our family.

– You are awesome!  (Maybe I’ve mentioned that before?)

Find a dad today and encourage him.  Maybe it’s your husband, maybe it’s your son, maybe it’s a random stranger walking through the grocery store with a little girl wearing a purple tutu (as my husband has done!) — just find one and tell him he’s doing a good job.  Dads aren’t imbeciles and they need encouragement, too!

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