Many ties, mugs, tools, and electronics will be given to Dads this year for Father's Day. All fine gifts, but since people are calling 2012 "The Year of Dad," we thought we would ask for something more meaningful than the latest universal remote.
From Advertisers and TV/Film writers . . .
We would like you to rethink how you portray dads. Somewhere in the mid- to late-eighties, popular media went from treating dads as respectable, engaged parents (Cliff Huxtable, Steven Keaton) to inept, blithering idiots (Homer Simpson, Ray Barone). You are not appealing to mothers or fathers, to men or women, when you portray dads as buffoons. In many families, it's all hands on deck just to keep up with sports practices, homework, PTA meetings, meals, and everything else that keeps a family and home running. We are seeing signs of hope -- advertisers like Huggies and Mass Mutual, TV shows like Parenthood and Up All Night, and even the new movie, What to Expect When You're Expecting, all portray dads as many of us really are-- caring, capable, and confident. This is the new standard.
From "Parenting Experts" . . .
We need you to invite Dads into the conversation. When The Today Show identifies their parenting segments as "Today Moms," or parenting magazines gear all of their content to female parents, you do a disservice to dads and moms. Supposedly, your mission is to create information that will improve the life of families. However, by addressing only one parent, you are propagating the pressure that moms are already feeling to be "perfect." When both moms and dads are the authors, audience, and subjects of articles, you change the dynamic of how this content is consumed, and you might even positively change the parenting dynamic in homes. Again, we are seeing progress. Babble.com now has a channel specifically for dads, and employs many dads as contributors. The Huffington Post moved its Parenting channel out of the "Women" section into the "Life & Style" section, and also regularly addresses its content to dads and moms. We are hoping other shows, publications, and websites will follow these examples.
From Employers . . .
We ask you to recognize our desire to be serious about our careers while we also juggle being the fathers we want to be. Study after study indicate that fathers are feeling even more work-life conflict than moms. Corporate executives, we need you to institute family friendly policies like paid parental leave and flexible scheduling that will allow both moms and dads the opportunity to meet the needs of their families. Colleagues, we need some pioneers that will explicitly demonstrate that you can care about your work and your career while also caring for your family. We have made some progress on this --- look for inspiration from leaders like Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup.com, and Rob Candelino, Vice President at Unilever, as they publicly announce their desire to build great companies and careers, while also building great families. Executive mothers have led the way on this issue, and it's time for fathers to join them.
From our Friends, our Families, and our Church, Synagogue, Temple, and
Mosque Leaders . . .
We need some leeway as we redefine what it means to be a father in 21st Century America. Buddies, your friend is not "whipped" just because he does laundry and cooks meals for his family. Grandpas, you shouldn't be proud that you never changed a diaper--you actually missed some important bonding time. Religious leaders, you have no right to use your sacred book to tell at-home dads and breadwinning moms that they are sinners when they make decisions that are best for their families. We now have nearly 600 dads in the NYC Dads Group that are defying expectations every day--we, and those like us around the country, need your support.
From our Parenting Partners (the lucky ones among us that have them) . . .
We want to stand next to you as a co-parent. Millions of moms and dads (as well as moms and moms, and dads and dads) around the country are demonstrating every day that two people can work together to raise children, take care of the home, pursue meaningful careers, and even have time for themselves. It takes an immense amount of hard work, communication, and moments of both selflessness and selfishness. That said, we got ourselves into this mess together, so let's figure it out.
We realize that is a lot to ask . . . if you're not up for it, Phillips-Norelco makes a nice electric razor.