Turn Down the Stereotypes

I’m a big fan of stereotypes. I think they’re funny and they lead to some easy jokes.

I’m a red-headed white guy with both Scottish and Irish heritage deep in my DNA. So that means I like to drink (true), I can’t jump (true) and I’m not fast (true).

And, yet, there is one stereotype that I really don’t like. It’s one that normally stays inside me and I try to dispel it with my actions. But again and again I either fail or there is too much momentum that it’s like trying to stop a tidal wave with a few sandbags.

It’s the long-held stereotype of fathers being absent.

There’s been a lot to change that, probably because of shows like Mad Men that remind us of a different time and era, so we think of the progress made over the last 50 years. However, that stereotype still exists deep within our belief system as humans. It’s probably not going away soon because, unfortunately, there are too many men who continue to give credence to this stereotype.

I carried my kid during a long hike earlier this year. Was it a date? No. Should I be celebrated for it? No. It was just me being a dad.
I carried my kid during a long hike earlier this year. Was it a date? No. Should I be celebrated for it? No. It was just me being a dad.

There are, though, a lot of men fighting that stereotype.

 

They’re not marching on Washington. They’re not holding rallies. They’re not asking for signatures to put something on a ballot.

They’re just being parents.

It’s not a fatherly thing or a parental thing, per se. It’s just being a logical human being and watching out for your child.

So when I see a link celebrating Dads with Daughters, I was somewhat excited to click on it. Even if it was via Buzzfeed.

Here I am, a dad with a daughter, and a very popular website is celebrating them.

Until … I clicked.

Talk about an entire page of horseshit.

This is a page with 25 pictures of men hanging out with their daughters. To even call it a “date” is disturbing. To celebrate the fact that a dad is doing something with his daughter is worse.

I don’t know … maybe they’re just doing what they’re supposed to be doing? Ya know? Like taking their kid to eat. Or to a concert. Or to play miniature golf. Things that dads – or any parent for that matter – should be doing. Spending some time with their child.

So why is it such a big deal? And why are we calling it a “date?”

Can’t we just call it “being a dad?” And do we really need to celebrate it?

What’s next – Hooray for a pet owner picking up dog poop during a walk?

This is the kind of thing that should just come with being a responsible human being.

If we want to fight stereotypes, I’d love to see a Buzzfeed page showing shitty moms. Because all moms are amazing, right? And the stereotype is that moms do all the work and dads get to goof off and get away with it? So can we find 25 photos of mothers in jail, on drugs, on the streets, not buckling their kids in the car, drowning them, locking them in rooms, malnourishing them? Would that get some web clicks?

Look, I’m not the best dad in the world. I’m entirely average. I want to go hang out with my buddies and drink beer and enjoy some time without my kid, too. Does that make me a bad person? No, it makes me human. The same way a mother needs some time to herself, too.

But, dammit, when I’m spending time with my daughter I shouldn’t be celebrated. It shouldn’t be a date. It should just be a normal thing.

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5 comments

  1. I completely agree with your point that we should not need to celebrate dads doing normal dad activities. Several months ago I was out to eat with my wife and daughter. She needed a diaper change before we left, so I grabbed the diaper bag and the baby and took care of business. The two ladies at the table next to ours went on and on about how great of a dad I am. All I did was change a diaper. And it was just wet. If that is their standard for a “great dad”, their expectations are way too low.

    However, I must respectfully disagree with your disapproval of a daddy-daughter date. In a world where absentee fatherhood is the norm and mothers are expected to take care of the parenting duties, A regular daddy-daughter date night is a great antidote. It is a great way for dads and daughters to spend time together, and to help her to feel special and loved. It shouldn’t be celebrated as the greatest thing since sliced bread, it should just be a normal part of fatherhood. All dads should [must] spend individual time with each of their children, using the term ‘date’ is optional.

  2. I love this post Matt!! Being a parent is the most difficult and rewarding thing I’ve done in my life but just being there for your kids is the single most important thing you can do. Keep posting! Love the stories!

  3. I think you’re spot on here. Celebrating dads being involved in their kids’ lives is great on a lot of levels, but it’s potentially patronizing and misleading if it doesn’t acknowledge how common it is nowadays.

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