If you think the Dad in your life is clueless, it may not be his fault. Blame the media.
I can hear you already. Oh, c’mon Shawn, the media? How passé. How trite. How convenient.
Let me explain.
There is no denying that gender roles still exist in our society. By and large, men are still seen as the “hunter/gatherers,” and women are still considered to be the loving and nurturing of the two sexes.
The reality may be that we are far more progressive in how we actually parent our kids. But perception remains reality, and the world is still bombarded with the imagery of man as worker bee and woman as, well, Queen bee.
As a Dad, who has taken responsibility for teaching his kid right from wrong, I can easily make the argument that it really doesn’t matter what role society slots me into. As long as I make a concerted effort to teach my child that Dads can be as nurturing and loving as Moms, I am showing her that these gender roles aren’t absolute truths.
But as I look around me, every day, I realize that society is really pushing hard in favour of the status quo.
Consider some of the following:
- When was the last time you saw a Dad on the cover of a parenting magazine?
- For that matter, when was the last time you saw a Dad on any of the interior pages of a parenting magazine?
- Have you ever seen a man involved in the sale and promotion of any baby-related products?
- Do you think anyone is using the term Daddy Blogger strategically in Canadian boardrooms?
Why are loving, caring and nurturing men and Dads still taboo? Well, research shows that the women/Moms of the world make the vast majority of the purchasing decisions in any given household. This rationalizes the decision to portray Moms in ads and in magazines because women are more likely to identify with a product or situation if they can see themselves using it.
Moms are therefore seen as the ones who buy the things that keep their kids happy and healthy. Where is Dad? I suppose the assumption is that he’s at work, making the money to buy the bacon, which Mom will then feed the kids.
Until Dads can be seen as equal contributors to domestic family life as Moms, the notion of Dad the hunter and Mom the nurturer may continue to prevail.
No magazine covers for us. No overwhelmingly popular Daddy bloggers for the time being.
For the record, I am not criticizing the impression of Moms as nurturers, or the network and trust Moms have established for themselves. It’s amazing that women have connected with both one another and their families is such a profound and meaningful way. I feel lucky to be somewhat of an insider, through this blog, and I have learned and been able to apply skills that have made me a better Father.
To the contrary, I’m wondering when the image of Dad as nurturer will become the prevailing societal interpretation, with buffoons and disinterested partners being the exception.
Recently, I have been making a dedicated effort to find and connect with other Dads on Twitter. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of Dads out there who do what I do, and at how passionate and dedicated they are to their family lives and their roles as fathers. We are every bit as nurturing, caring and loving as Moms; just as Moms are every bit as capable of bringing home the bacon.
So c’mon, media. Get your collective heads out of the sand. Dads are parents too.
(Yes, that’s my closing argument – “So c’mon, media.”)