Looking at the Father’s Day cards for Dads is shocking. All of the cards depict scenes of chaos (because Mum isn’t there), or kids eating ridiculous things (because Mum isn’t there) or Dads generally failing to do things (because Mum isn’t there). Do they make me laugh? No. My over-riding thought is – ‘how insulting’. But it’s not just once a year in cards, this is perpetuated all year round in the TV shows we watch, the adverts we see and films that are being made. But worse, much, much worse is that this is the way Dads are depicted in cartoons and books. The very first information we impart on our little ones. In fact, a NetMums survey found ‘93 percent of parents claim children’s shows don’t represent real-life dads’.
It carries through into our vernacular too. ‘Is your husband babysitting tonight?’ is something that is so commonly said I’m sure people barely notice that this is not only ridiculous but also belittling to Dads. ‘Yes, and brilliantly he is still charging the same hourly rate as he did when he was a teenager‘. Of course he isn’t, he’s being a father.
My husband is an amazing father, he is brilliant with our children and does as much for them as I do. This includes drop-offs and pick-ups to/from nursery. Being there for them. Nappy changes, feeding, soothing the bruises after tumbles and resettling them at night if they wake. You know the everyday challenges of parenting. Does this make him a saint? Does this make me lucky? No, he is being a Dad
When a mother does these things do they get a slap on the back, get told ‘your husband is so lucky that you share the parenting’. Of course she doesn’t. It’s called parenting.
The point is that we denigrate fathers all the time. All of the Dads in our lives are ‘hands on’. It’s not a ‘treat’ for their kids to have ‘Daddy time’ it is simply them being a parent. They are all amazing Dads who are there for their children just as much as their wives/girlfriends are. I’m not saying they are brilliant at every little aspect, of course they aren’t but only in the same way that us Mums aren’t either. Just like in life everyone has some things that they are fantastic at and others that they are simply terrible at. Parenting is no different.
Isn’t it time we changed this? Dads are spending more time being active in bringing up their children, seven times more than they did in the 1970s. And now we live in a world where there are more than 229,000 stay at home Dads in the UK, which shows that parents are embracing choice, which is fantastic.
The world has changed, so must the way we portray men. We must not forget that children learn from the world around them; if little ones expectations of fathers are that they are laughable at best and useless at worst then what do we expect them to be/expect when they grow up. So let’s make a stand, change the way we portray Dads. We talk about progressive examples of women and we also need more progressive examples of men. Then we can show Dads that they are valued and respected as parents.