Why don’t dads approve?
“Imagine you’re a stay-at-home mum…”
“Mum was right…”
“Helping mums through the journey of parenthood…”
“It has all the stuff mums and kids love…”
I could keep going! There is an online account, www.DadMarketing.com that DOES keep going! They seek out all the parental marketing that leaves Dad out of the picture.
These examples bother me. Probably more than most of you. You might say, “why does it matter?” But I would reply by asking, “What kind of damage is this doing for men and dads”? I read and see a lot of the Mum and Mumma groups and bloggers online poking fun at us dads, posting jokes or memes about how we seldom engage in parenting, how we seldom have an opinion, how we don’t know how to change a diaper or what to feed our kids. The major (and local) brands are seeing this too and are being swept up with it, assuming that dad isn’t a decision-maker when it comes to parenting and they leave us out.
Well guess what? Marketing works, and can have great impact on people if done properly. So what kind of affect do you think this type of marketing is having on dads? Or better yet, what kind of affect do you think including dads in marketing to parents and portraying dads as equals, would have on dads? Would they have more desire to be an active parent, because marketing is telling them they should be?
I can already hear all the critics telling me that marketing doesn’t work, and that they ignore and tune out advertising. Well my response is simple: They’re wrong. There is no way they can ignore all the marketing that is being thrown at them. Just look at the Super Bowl. If marketing doesn’t work, then why do advertisers spend $5 million dollars for a 30- second commercial? And if you’re one of those critics that says marketing doesn’t work – well then you shouldn’t even know about Super Bowl commercials… because just in you knowing about these commercials, means Super Bowl marketing has made it into your life.
Fifty percent of parents are Dads. How is it that the world has forgotten about the simple birds-and-the-bees conversation that we all got when we were 9-12 years old? It takes two to tango. So why has the world built up “Mum” to be the one and only parent? Now, I understand that there is a large amount of single parent families in Canada and the world. According to statistics, 1.1 million children in Canada live with a single parent – but they’re not all single mums! There are over 200,000 children in Canada living with single dads.
How is it that the world has forgotten about the simple birds-and-the-bees conversation that we all got when we were 9-12 years old?
Now, what about the two-parent families? Eighty percent of children in Canada are living in homes with two parents. Is mum the only caregiver or provider in that family? I’m sure in some sad situations she is, but again that’s dwelling on the dads who haven’t figured it out yet, and these dads are perhaps the ones who have given up because the world has given up on them and forgotten about them.
I can only speak for myself and offer my opinions and observations here, but you give me a cereal that’s “Dad-Approved” and when I take my kids shopping – like I regularly do – I’ll beat my chest like a gorilla, huff and puff and grunt until I make my boys laugh and tell them that we’re eating this cereal because it’s manly and will make us big and strong, and I’ll tell them we don’t want that other sissy cereal that aren’t “Dad-Approved” – just as a single mum walks by with her boys.
You can already picture the scene, can’t you? There is no way out for that mum – who is doing her best! No, I’ve ruined that cereal for her – all because it said “Dad-Approved” on it. In this example, we’ve swung the pendulum too far. Yet, we can all see that scenario so clearly, and it makes sense to us all and we can identify the problem with it. But we still can’t see what the issue is when we slap “Mum this” and “Mum that” on everything.
What happens if there are only “Mum & Tot” programs offered by the health authority? What happens if there are only charities for single mums? What happens if dads continue to be excluded – regardless of how hard they are trying to be an active parent?
I’ll tell you what happens! They give up and take off. And then we blame them!
As you should know by now, I’m a stay-at-home dad. I’ve got three young kids, including a set of twins. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve got most of it figured out. Diapers? Bring it on. I even did cloth diapers for the first 20 months! Feeding? You won’t find anyone who can hide veggies in food that my kids actually eat better than me! Potty training? Four days… no “how-to” manual! Sleeping? I’m so good at it already… I can sing all my kids AND MYSELF to sleep in one song! Finding dad programs, dad charities or organizations, being included and made to feel valuable as a dad? EPIC FAIL! I’m lost. I’m lonely. I’m jealous.
You see, here’s the thing. When dads are included in the parenting conversation, recognized for their contributions, even considered not just in the home but on a grander scale, don’t you think they’d be more willing to engage? Get their hands dirty raising their kids? And all while knowing that not only are they valued, but noticed, and seen, by a wider audience and can be a contributor to this “village” we are so desperately trying to create?
I’m not saying that by changing marketing and changing our language that all the single-mum parent homes will be eliminated, but I will say that there’s a good chance that if dads are being acknowledged, encouraged, and valued, more will stick around; because THEY MATTER.
Dale Allen Berg is the founder and organiser for the Parenting 101 organisation and conference, and a stay-at-home dad to three kids under the ages of three. This article has been republished with permission.