November 25th, 2006
Back before Jacob was born, I was reading The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be, 2nd ed. by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash. It was a good book and I recommend it.
Towards the end, there was a section that the author clearly was passionate about, and it made me mad too.
He was talking about society’s attitudes towards dads. He started by looking at messages that are sent out in commercials. One study of commercials said that “100% of jerks singled out in male-female relationships were male. There were no exceptions. . .” That study also said that 100% of the ignorant and incompetant people in commercials were male as well.
He went on to cite some examples. Tons of slogans like “kid tested, mother approved”, “choosy moms choose Jif”, Robitussin’s “recommended by Dr. Mom”, etc. And one for Post Raisin Bran in which a father and daughter are impressed by their cereal. Dad says, “somebody must really love us. Who do you think it is?” The daughter answers, “Mommy!”
Of course, these were just some examples from commercials, but they seem to reflect a message that dads are, at best, incompetant. Brott mentions studies that show that men display the same decision-making skill and affection as parents as women do.
Brott went on to talk about some of his experiences. One time, while he was in a park playing with his children, a little girl started to fall off the top of a slide. He was right there and was able to catch her as she fell — probably saving her from, at best, a broken bone. The girl’s mother rushed over, ignored Brott, and said to the girl, “did he hurt you?”
I started to see this sort of thing all over the place even before Jacob was born. In stores, there would be tons of infant shirts, bibs, etc. saying things like “I love mommy,” rarely even one thing that mentioned daddy. Similar patterns were there for greeting cards and pretty much everything else baby-related.
I’ve noticed this even more since Jacob was born. There have been times when Terah and I are somewhere together, standing right beside each other, and someone will ask Terah all about Jacob, and totally ignore me. Even if I’m the one holding him. I’m sure people are well-intentioned; some of them that have done this are people we know well and I know they mean well. Somtimes, I don’t even notice when this is going on (though Terah does and when she mentions it later, I remember it).
Do they just expect that men don’t care? Or do they think that since Terah is working part time, and I’m working full time, that we must be “traditional” enough that I don’t care to be involved in Jacob’s life? (Though I’m not sure that the “detached & uninvolved dad” stereotype ever was true, at least from the examples I can think of) It’s hard to miss out on so many moments of Jacob’s life during the day that Terah gets to be there for. But that doesn’t mean that I’m an uninvolved or clueless dad.
Now, despite this little rant, there are quite a few people out there that have no problem including me in discussions about Jacob — relatives, friends, people at church, co-workers, etc. In fact, probably more people include me than don’t. I really appreciate that, and especially the extra effort some of them go to in order to include me. (I know how much effort it took to find baby clothes that mention dad, for instance) Terah is best at all this, making sure that I get to be part of Jacob’s life as much as I possibly can be, and I really appreciate that.
But to Wyeth (makers of Robitussin): Don’t think I haven’t noticed that Walgreens sells “Wal-Tussin”, same active ingredients as your product, and at a lower price. Dr. Dad knows how to buy generic.