We are Dads, not Dummies

I am a “Dad Crusader”.  I am constantly on the prowl for ‘dad injustices’ – something that belittles, demeans, or discriminates against my fellow dads.

I have sent letters to parenting magazine editors requesting a “Dad’s Corner” to complement the ever popular “Mom-2-Mom” type advice columns (one of the big reasons I started the Dad Vibe website).  If a restaurant only has a change table in the women’s washroom, I write a letter requesting a baby change table be in BOTH washrooms (or I’m never eating here again).   If a facility offers a “mom and tot” program, I just show up – like a gunslinger walking through the dusty saloon doors – “Somebody just try and stop me…”  

I know I am a bit of nightmare in certain social circles because I constantly trumpet “What about DAD?”

I was in Florida over the March break.  My mom and I were watching Jon Stewart when a commercial came on.  It was a “Huggies” ad, depicting bumbling incompetent dads changing diapers; “Put Dad to the test” was the tagline.  Here is the scene: 5 moms hand off their children to dads, then the moms scamper away to some mom retreat leaving all the dads TOGETHER to look after the children.  Heaven forbid?  5 dads with 5 babies -- can these idiots do it?  Which baby will be in danger first??  Do Dads even know how diapers work?

The stereotypes were shocking and after the commercial, I said to my mom, “Can you believe THAT commercial?  This is 2012, that was terrible, dads are not clueless idiots, I changed more diapers than she {my children’s mother} ever did!!”    My mom, knowing full well how sensitive I am to Dad injustices, just smiled and shrugged, “I guess its just a commercial”… Well, I was angered by it and bothered for an obscene amount of time.

As an at-home involved dad and the AVENGER for “Dad’s equality”, this Huggies ad was like a slap in the face that sent me and other dads back 30+ years to the caveman era.  I finally let it go (about 2 days later) and didn’t think much more about the commercial until I saw THIS article (from another dad blog I follow)…

It seems Facebook was ablaze with my angry brothers in arms…

“Your ad campaign disgusts me,” wrote James Garcia. “My wife and I share the responsibilities of the house. I cook, grocery shop, clean, and we take care of our daughter equally. At times I have been at home with my daughter more than my wife has been, after she had to return to work and I had a lot of time off. It is insulting to all fathers to portray us as a bunch of bumbling idiots.”

For more on the Huggies “MESS” click here… see the offensive ad here and see how HUGGIES tried to save their bacon…

My main point is that our society is not tolerant of slurs or stereotypes against any population.  From homosexuality to mental disabilities, what may have been deemed ‘ok’ back 30 years ago, does not fly now.  Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious”, although a classic comedy concert, contains lots of material that was barely ok back then and is definitely off limits now.

The same is happening with the “un-involved-dumb-dad” stereotype… IT DOESN’T FLY anymore!  We are not Homer Simpson.  The majority of dads are extremely competent, happy, and involved.  We love our children just as much as mom does and we love being parents to our children just as much as mom does.

But it's important to note that most experts agree that while there is no predisposition for either gender to be a better parent, DADS have to WANT to be involved, not sitting on the sideline waiting for an invitation to the dance.  A man MUST be present to father – but just showing up isn’t enough, dads have to get off the bench and get in the game…

I will sum up this Huggies tirade with the same line my children have heard a thousand times, a line I actually heard my son say to his friend (I was proud and embarrassed with his assertiveness), “There is nothing girls can do that boys can’t do, except have babies!” – well, the same thing goes for Dads.  We can do anything Mom can do!

Have you endured Dad inequality?  Injustice?  Stereotypes?  What has been your experience?  please share…

Until next time…

More The Dad Vibe articles

About the Author

Jeff Hay is a Kelowna-based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of four.

Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States. 

When he is not playing his favourite role of 'DAD', Jeff speaks throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator, working on his website – www.thedadvibe.com, and writing his parenting book for dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Jeff dedicates his life to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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