Of Course, Dads Cook

If you’re a dad who subscribes to the Betty Crocker newsletter, things must have felt rather awkward recently.

In one of its latest editions, BC didn’t hide who it considers its intended audience.

Of course, it’s a slap in the face to dads who cook. It’s also a blow to women, who for decades were told that their place was in a certain room in the house. BC drives home that point in more ways than one.

Take a look at BettyCrocker.com, where you’ll have to dig deep to find a photo of a man. (We’re still digging and haven’t found one yet.)

It also has a practice of excluding dads in ads over the years.

If its mission truly is to “teach people to cook,” BC might want to remember that people come in all shapes and sizes. Fathers represent an incredibly untapped market in the kitchen space, and it’s high time BC invites dads to the table.

It’s hard enough for dads to warm up to a name like Betty Crocker, so the least it could do is make men feel welcome.

Dads Don’t Need Extra Praise, Only a Smile

A dad was grocery shopping with his four young children when he crossed paths with a mom-acquaintance – and the encounter was anything but ordinary.

The mom stopped immediately, slowly stood up straight, put her hands on her hips and nodded with wide-ranging approval as she exclaimed, “I’m impressed!”

Unfortunately, this sort of encounter was nothing new. Just by way of being male, dads have been typecast as being out of their element in the grocery store, with kids in tow, and (gasp) all alone.

That mom might have been thinking: what kind of dad would confront this ordeal and actually enjoy it?

Actually, dads do. The funny thing is, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing: they’re being parents.

Dads and moms parent different, but that doesn’t make one better or more right than the other. Just different. That’s a good thing.

Despite these differences, all dads have one thing in common: they see parenting as central to their identity and want to be treated the same as everyone else. None of them want to be considered a hero for serving as a breadwinner and still maintaining an engaged fatherly role. They don’t want praised for braving the so-called tempest of taking kids shopping. You don’t need to applaud them when they change a diaper, clean a room, fold the laundry or merely cook a meal. And they certainly don’t want to be coddled or checked upon when they’re left alone with the baby.

All of this comes naturally to them, and there should be no questioning their might as caring or fully competent parents. Simply put, they want to be held in the same regard as anyone else.

Think about it: women are no more instinctually capable of caring for children, but it’s the media who would never let you think otherwise. Dads are equal parents in every way, shape and form.

So, if you happen to see a dad in the grocery store with kids, the best thing you can do is just smile. There’s nothing better than knowing everyone is on the same team.

Similac Finally Acknowledges Problem with Rewards Program

You can’t strive for equality if you don’t recognize a problem in the first place. Such is the case of Similac and its maker Abbott, who for years promoted its “Similac Strong Moms Rewards” program.

Just recently, without fanfare, it revised the program to “Similac Rewards.”

It took our team well over seven years for Similac to heed our call.

Alas, equality is a confusing topic for many.

Even while promoting and striving for it, the most well-intentioned organizations fall short. It was almost comical to see General Mills’ website once brag about marketing messages that were “inclusive and respectful” while promising not to produce marketing that “undermines the role of parents” – all the while employing its now defunct “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved” Kix slogan. That decades-old catchphrase wasn’t banished until our team pointed out its own incongruity (again, over the course of several years).

Or when P&G ran its exclusionary “Thank You, Mom” Olympics campaign, coupled with language that stated – and we’re not making this up – “A world free from gender bias is a better world for all. #WeSeeEqual.”

So, the Similac revision is a major step in the right direction not just for fatherhood, but for parental equality. No parent should be made to feel less or lower in the eyes of anyone.

Similac isn’t perfect. In fact, it still has changes that need to be made – such as with its own company Google search description (below).

It must keep searching and recognizing its own problems without others having to point them out, and the real reward will come in the form of customer loyalty and increased revenue.

Thoughtfulness Never Grows Old — And Dads Do It Well

Have you ever looked for ways to save money? How about saving water or energy? Eventually you run out of ideas. There are only so many.

However, you never – repeat, never – exhaust all ideas when it comes to doing thoughtful, caring things for your spouse. We’ve all seen these lists scattered about the Internet, but curiously, they usually have a number placed on them:

  • “25 Cute Things to do for your Spouse”
  • “10 Little Things Connected Couples do”
  • “51 Things to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day”

Valentine’s Day offers a natural, built-in source for expressing your love. But why do this only on scheduled holidays or anniversaries? Gestures can happen anytime and for no reason. Imagine doing something once a month – it could be sentimental, silly, or fun. You could indulge with gifts large and small, buy a few and make some.

If you’ve been married for, say 10 years, that’s 120 consecutive moments (more like opportunities) to show thoughtfulness and recall your marriage vows – proving that there is no quantifiable limit to creativity in showing love.

However you honor your spouse, do it regularly – not just on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. Make it a routine, and not only will your spouse appreciate it, but your kids will benefit from witnessing their parents showing love, and exhibiting a lifetime of love. That’s key, because love is not merely saying, it is doing.

This has a lot to do with how we view dads in marketing and media. The more dads are out there setting the example and building relationships through action, the less dads are improperly pegged as not thoughtful and caring.

Of course, dads care a lot – everyone knows that. The media need to see it more.

Just remember, you may be growing older little by little every day, but thoughtfulness never does. And dads do it well.

Searching for Equality at Breakfast

As long as we’re changing brand names and packaging for Uncle Ben’s, Aunt Jemima and Land O’Lakes – let’s take a closer look at everything on food shelves.

After all, equality comes in many forms. It’s the state of being equal, especially in status, rights and opportunities. Perhaps it’s time for a gender reckoning.

Consider breakfast food – one of the largest perpetuators of stereotypes. It took years of pointing out Kix’s long-standing slogan to maker General Mills before eventually succumbing to our plea. Same for Cheerios, Quaker Oats and El Monterey.

The industry still hasn’t progressed to appropriately reflect the dignity, respect and warmth dads deserve as equal, competent parents.

How do we know? Look at Mom’s Best Cereal. This brand speaks to only one parent on its website:

  • “Mom’s Best honors and supports real moms”
  • “By Mom’s. [sic] For Moms.”
  • “At Mom’s Best we exist for one reason … to make it easier for hardworking moms (like you!) to do right by their families.”
  • “Moms know what matters most…”
  • “If you’re a mom who’s social, let’s connect!”
  • “We have a vibrant community of moms who are keeping it real and trying to give their family what’s best.”

In a world that won’t stand for old-fashioned stamps and unnecessary exclusion, these statements are shameless enough. But when you look at Post Holdings – the corporate site for Mom’s Best – you’ll find some major hypocrisy.

“We strive to exhibit the highest standards of integrity and fairness in everything we do,” Post Holdings states. “We take responsibility for our actions, adopt an unbiased approach to all colleagues, do the right thing, deliver what we promise and are considerate of individual differences and cultures.”

If that’s true, then it’s time to walk the walk.

Post Holdings needs a massive website overhaul and brand renaming from Mom’s Best to Parents Best. Anything less and it will eventually be forced into doing so by an unforgiving public, all the while spending even more time and money playing PR-catch-up. In this zero-tolerance society, it had better appease consumers who expect nothing but love for everyone in the parenting space, not a select few.

Mom’s Best/Post Holdings hasn’t progressed enough to properly exhibit the respect and warmth toward today’s modern families.

The best time to do this would have been years ago when Mom’s Best was created. The second best time is today.

Daddy the Parent

daddy

Daddy the Parent
Has a happy, loving role
But a stereotype that he hadn’t chose
Makes it harder doncha know.

Daddy the Parent
On a sliding scale they say
Can’t compare to mom on an old sitcom
Or in real life any day.

But it wasn’t really magic
Innately all-around
For when that man became a dad
It was part of his background.

Oh, Daddy the Parent
Can thrive at home, you see
And the children know that he is a pro
Just the same as their mommy.

Daddy the Parent
Was capable every way
So he said, “Loved one, I can’t be outdone
Despite what media say.”

Daddy the Parent
Never worried any day
So he winked his eye, saying, “I’m a good guy
I got this every day!”

Are They ‘My Kids’ or ‘Our Kids’?

If you already have children, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids” when speaking with others?

Take note, pregnant friends, as you’ll want to have this down pat before the baby arrives – the difference is a notable one. The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a message of togetherness and unity. While “my” may seem harmless and unintentional, it conveys a certain message – whether you believe it or not – to others, but also to your partner.

It’s easy to come across stories, blogs, or social media posts from spouses who complain that they’re stuck with the majority of the household and parental duties. But wouldn’t the action of calling the baby “ours” drive home a greater spirit of togetherness when tackling daily familial duties? These spouses might not feel so alone in their work by calling the children ours.

The media drives this perception, too. It’s regular practice for food and home products is to exclude dads in advertising, despite none of the products being gender specific. It makes dads out to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter. Using the word “parent” instead of “mom” won’t make or break the marketing business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust. Rather, it will make a dad feel like an included member of the family and feel like a valued customer.

In the same vein, wouldn’t we all be doing ourselves a much better service by speaking in terms of “us”? That inclusion, that togetherness would mean a lot toward parental equality. If we all spoke with these expressions, it might even get companies to change their marketing ways.

Perhaps if we all started thinking in terms of “our, us, we,” there might be increased mutual respect and greater understanding in parenting.

Those kids, they’re ours. Try it.

How Women Can Support Men During Pregnancy

It only takes a quick Internet search to find oodles of stories on how husbands can help wives during pregnancy. And why not – she’s the one carrying the load and deserves plenty of special attention.

But there’s also a dad in the mix, and he’s every bit responsible for creating this wondrous, lifelong adventure. Without him, there’s no baby!

And if you actually conduct said Internet search, you’ll find very little advice on how to assist dads during pregnancies. We think it’s time to place some focus on him with some tips for supporting dad throughout those nine months.

Involve dad with shopping

As soon as you confirm the baby’s arrival it may be may be tempting to wave the plastic at every crib, stroller, high chair and changing table you see – but don’t do it without dad. Even if you think he doesn’t care (he actually does), bring him along to make those decisions. He needs to be happy with the products he’ll be using, and he’ll likely offer some unique perspective you hadn’t considered.

Talk, listen, watch

Along with adorable coos and sweet smiles, the baby will bring enormous change to your relationship. Men have the same hopes, fears and dreams as you, and it’s important to dialogue about those emotions. Recent studies have also shown that men experience a level of postpartum depression, so keep a watchful eye for any warning signs.

Show affection

We all know how crucial it is for dad to feel the baby’s kick and let it hear his voice, so that should be a steady reminder how touch and speech is paramount to dad, too. Hold hands, give hugs and give him constant reminders that he’s not forgotten during any of this.

Words matter

Employ pronouns like “we” and “our” in your speech, and remind the world that you’re not pregnant – you are together, as a couple. There are lots of opportunities to do this through social media posts, formal printed announcements and simple daily conversation. The more you tell people you’re in this parenting thing together, the more he’ll feel like a valid, equal parent – which he is.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

If you’re planning to up your fitness game and take a closer, healthier look at your diet for the better development of the baby – invite him to go along for the ride. So when you walk, bring him along. When you’re eating a healthy, crisp salad, encourage him to order one, too. And when you get that inevitable, sudden craving for a certain dessert or snack, persuade him to indulge. After all, there’s no “I” in team, nor in “sweets.”

In the name of equality

It’s easy to point the finger when spouses don’t carry their load, especially when it comes to child rearing. But don’t let it come to that – a unified, shared parental approach from the very beginning will foster involvement for a lifetime.

All of which will make those nine months seem like a blip on the ultrasound radar.

Why Pregnancy is a Lot Like Watching Sports

As difficult as it must be to play in and lose a sports championship, the agony of defeat is stronger for the fan.

Some of us have experienced that competitive loss as an amateur participant, but most of us have no way of knowing what it’s like to lose, say, the Super Bowl. Yet as painful as that numbing loss must feel, it’s harder to stomach for fans.

Why?

As much as fans can scream and support their teams, they really have no control over the situation on the field. It’s a feeling of powerlessness, of not being able to have a direct effect on the outcome. As invested as they are in their team, as strong as they love and support their squad, as much as they ooze lifelong civic pride – the best they can do is watch. And maybe pray.

All of this is a little bit what it’s like to for pregnancy and men. The dad-to-be can do plenty to cheer, motivate and support his baby-carrying-wife, but ultimately it’s on her to deliver the trophy – er, baby. He can maintain a healthy diet and stay fit as much as he wants, but it will matter little to the baby’s immediate development. He can get rest and seek plenty of help from family to prepare for the arrival, but the baby will still come as planned. He can study birthing and practice all the breathing exercises until he’s blue in the face, but the apple will eventually fall from the tree.

Granted, there’s actually a lot a man can do by way of touch, action, preparation, studying, coaching, and so on. A man can tell her how beautiful she is, take the far majority of the load when it comes to domestic duties, give massages, and romanticize her – and on and on.

But that dad probably would like to do more, and he probably wouldn’t mind being a little more in the game, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines. Go ahead and laugh, but you’d be surprised how many men wouldn’t mind giving pregnancy a try, if called upon. Those comments are always made out of mutual respect and in communion with wives. That’s true empathy.

So, let’s not forget that dads have plenty to think about during pregnancy, too. It’s an emotional time that requires a lot of patience and understanding. Dads deserve some of that, as well.

Marketers and media must remember that parents can reach the championship moment together. It shouldn’t be portrayed as a one-sided moment. Talk to dads in ad copy and your profit sheet will thank you.

It’s Not Just the Mom That’s Pregnant – It’s Dad, Too

When a child is on the way, a couple is overjoyed and over-the-moon about the huge change they’re about to experience.

But dads tend to feel left out.

When a couple becomes pregnant (more on that expression in a moment), it’s the woman who gains instant adulation by way of carrying the child. The wife goes shopping for new maternity clothes, often with sisters or girlfriends. She’ll likely host a baby shower with lots of guests, food and presents. She’ll physically start to change and receive extra consideration at doctor visits. She’ll get to request special foods not normally part of one’s daily diet (see cravings).

All of it is a wonderful, exciting time, and any husband is happy to see the added care and consideration his wife gets. The husband’s life will change, too, but the lack of attention can easily make a dad feel shut out.

The Boppy Company didn’t make things any easier with one of its recent blog posts.

In it, the writer states, “…it’s really not about you (male). You may have had something to do with conception, or were very involved with satisfying late night cravings, but the reality is, the person giving birth is going to be going through a lot and you’re not. In fact, you’ll likely be just sitting there most of the time.”

Any dad who’s gone through a pregnancy knows that’s not the case.

The change may not be physical, but dads go through a lot during a pregnancy. During delivery, he’s hardly just sitting there most of the time. And, he may have had a lot to do with conception.

Of course, there’s plenty a wife can to do make a dad feel like a part of the team: register together, attend appointments, plan the room, and feel the baby’s kick. All of this should go without saying. But the best idea is often overlooked.

So, what is that one, easy, surefire, free way to make dad feel appreciated and involved?

Let everyone know you’re both pregnant.

Sure, we all know that, technically, the child is growing inside the female. However, as stated, we also know that none of this is physically possible without a male – and that child is his, too.

So get used to saying it: couples become pregnant.

By telling the world, “We’re pregnant!” and “our baby is on the way,” it’s a telltale endorsement to friends and family that the baby is yours together, and dad-to-be is every bit an equivalent parent as mom-to-be. There’s no better way to make dad feel like a valued, equal part of the team. And yes, dad’s heart melts, too – he loves hearing togetherness words.

When women inevitably exclaim, “I’m pregnant” – it’s not that they intentionally meant to exclude husbands, or invoke any fatherly emotional detachment from the baby. It’s likely they just didn’t realize their word choice, or forgot, or omitted, or assumed, or overlooked.

Yet, that’s what happens to dads all the time.

So, make a pledge to use the proper pronoun during your pregnancy and beyond. Your relationship – as well as a genuine, committed, unified parenting approach – will be the better for it.