Hang on; getting up on my soap box. Let me just set it down here and situate myself.
I’ve been watching debates along with television commercials for laundry detergent and am growing increasingly disappointed in the lack of attention being given to a growing statistic in our country. Almost as insulting as the comments being made about a woman’s role in today’s society; are the lack of comments being made about the growing number of men who are stepping into a more nurturing role as fathers.
I was reading an article on CNN’s Web site and in it, it sited that according to the U.S. Census Bureau 32% of dads took care of their kids at least one day a week in 2010 and of those families with kids under the age of 5, 20% of dads were the primary caretaker. What’s important about these numbers is that they represent a significant rise in the role of stay at home dads over the past decade and the numbers appear to still be rising. (Read More)
The role of dads continues to evolve and our involvement in the day to day lives of our children continues to grow. So, why aren’t more advertisers taking notice of this fact? Why are Swiffer commercials still featuring women who can’t keep up with their sloppy husbands, messy kids and muddy dogs? Why aren’t dads seen grocery shopping in television ads? They’re certainly all over the place in television shows and movies. And why in the world are men who are on the verge of leading our nation and influencing the reflection of our culture still painting a picture of women in aprons and high heels ala Donna Reed while at the same time completely ignoring the changing face of the American household?
And yes businesses should consider flexible schedules, but it’s not just for women. A fast growing number of men are racing just as quickly to get home in time to get the kids off of the school bus and get dinner started. Some are single dads while others have wives who are staying late at the office. Our society is changing and it’s about time more mainstream mediums took notice. There’s actually money to be made by targeting dads who are doing laundry, making meals, putting bandaids on scrapes and vacuuming the living room. Hell, I’m one of them. I can’t tell you how many dads I see at grocery stores around the country with two kids in the shopping cart and a third one begging for Boo Berry cereal. Or how many dads I run into in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.
When my wife and I split, we did so evenly. We share responsibility for our children 50/50 with me carrying the additional load of health insurance for our kids. And I’m not alone. This is a script that is becoming more and more common in our country. So why aren’t politicians and advertisers speaking directly to us?
One of the purposes of this blog is to let divorced dads (and moms) know that they have more choices than perhaps they recognize. While my personal preference would be for my kids to be under one roof with two parents, I continue to believe there are ways for divorced parents to work together and provide their kids with solid relationships with both parents even when it involves two households. Is it always feasible? No. But it should be blatantly obvious that dads, divorced or married, are just as capable of being an equal primary care giver as are moms.
Not saying one is better than the other, but depending on any given family’s circumstances, it’s quite plausible that the definition of mom and dad is being turned upside down. How you define your relationship with your kids, your ex, your spouse is completely up to you. You do, to a large extent, have choices. They may be difficult ones, but you have more control than you may realize and it starts with communication, compromise and prioritizing.
Perhaps if we had more people speaking out about the subject, more advertisers targeting this new growing base and politicians being more in tune with the changing landscape of our society, divorced parents would have more support that would help them to continue building strong relationships and foundations for their kids. Because the hardest part about being a divorced dad is that you feel very isolated and alone in your journey. But just like moms, we figure it out. We may not do it the same way, but we do it and we learn with every
stumble. We learn to look for bargains, we learn how to make sure our daughters’ close don’t get mixed up, we figure out that it’s easier to make school lunches the night before and we learn how to prioritize and say no to work sometimes to ensure we’re there for our kids when they need us.
As for the big picture; it’s all about awareness and inviting more people to take the journey with us so that they can understand our world a little better. That includes the media, our schools, our government, our friends and our family. It’s about people seeing dads in the role of care giver and making their kids a priority and being o.k. with it. It’s about employers appreciating the fact that we didn’t schedule the softball game for 5:30, but we need to be there. It’s about neighbors accepting the fact that not all homes are Norman Rockwell stories and that that’s o.k. too.
So I invite Tide to introduce a commercial featuring a dad who’s trying to get the stains out of his son’s baseball jersey or Kellogg’s to suggest to us dads a healthy way to feed our kids in the morning. And maybe for our presidential candidates to mention the stay at home dad on occasion, just to make sure everyone knows we exist. Because we do … and we Rock!