Why your oatmeal doesn’t like you

quakeroats.jpgIf you’re a dad, take a moment to read these featured screen shots from the pages of Quaker.com.

How do they make you feel?

Left out? Like a forgotten parent? Like an assistant parent at best?

They only speak to moms, and yet these are from Quaker Oats, a product consumed by nearly everyone at some point in life. Quaker should take steps to review its content so as to not alienate readers. Specifically, Quaker should take the responsible road and consider its entire customer base, which includes dads.quakeroats2.jpg

If Quaker claims it’s purposely targeting moms, that’s wrong, because parenting is a shared duty. Anything else furthers the myth that it’s mom’s job to shop, to cook, to care for the family. Dads deserve better.

Quaker was founded by a dad, Ferdinand Schumacher, who had seven children of his own! It even features a man on its well-known logo. What might Schumacher think of the way his company treats dads today?

Dads place trust in Quaker, too, and it’s high time that Quaker recognizes that parents raise children, not just one gender.

quakeroats3.jpg

Having a baby isn’t a one-sided affair – it involves teamwork

A few months ago we stumbled across a story so sexist it deserved some extra attention here on the site.  And now we’ve discovered one (albeit over a year old) that’s so problematic we believe it needs even more consideration.babyprepping.jpg

Of course, the author probably meant well, but the story vibe hardly gives dads treatment as equal, competent parents. It’s emblematic of the way dads are often viewed in society, media and even social media.

The writer, however, appears to be male (it isn’t clear if “Richard” is the author, or gets the photo credit) – possibly even a dad? – which goes to show how much farther society needs to climb. After all, what kind of a world do we live in where a man devalues his own important role in pregnancy and birth? We contend it’s caused by stereotypes and media, who have influenced the way he believes he fits into all this.

To best explain our position, we’ll address this story from BabyPrepping.com sentence-by-sentence:

When it comes to being pregnant, it’s mom’s show.
Ouch – a rough start right from the beginning, and there’s just one problem with this opening statement: that baby in there, it’s not biologically possible without dad. So, suggesting that the pregnancy is mom’s show is demeaning and insulting to fathers-to-be everywhere. Dad is an equal player in this pregnancy.

We can only assume that the writer was talking about how, physically, only mom can carry the child. We get that, but that doesn’t mean pregnancy is her deal alone. Of course, it makes a mom’s stake in this very unique, but it’s every bit an equal show for dad, too.

That doesn’t mean she can, or should, handle everything on her own.
Agreed, and it should have never been suggested.

Many fathers-to-be want to help but aren’t quite sure what to do or how they can be of most use.
Not true. Many, if not most fathers, know that there’s plenty they can do during those nine months. Today’s modern dad remains active and involved, knowing that there’s lots to do to get ready: register together, attend appointments, educate themselves on the science behind pregnancy, make his partner feel comfortable, pamper her, send announcements, select names, plan the room, feel the baby’s kick, and talk/sing/read to the baby. Much of this comes naturally, just as it does for the mom-to-be.

The first step is making sure dad is well-informed as Mom’s pregnancy partner.
Dads need to be well-informed just as much as moms do. Neither gender is more instinctually capable of being a parent than the other – it’s only stereotypes and media/marketing which make people feel otherwise.

The more prepared the father is, the more he will be able to provide support throughout the pregnancy and birth.
True, but again, the same goes for mom. They’re in this pregnancy together. Dads needs equal amounts of support, but in a different way because he too endures plenty of challenges and struggles during pregnancy – some ways those challenges are similar, and in some ways different.

Men, however, don’t as often attend prenatal appointments and are less likely to have had the same motivation to read through the books and guides.
Says who? This kind of judgmental statement puts words in dads’ mouths, it labels and simply isn’t fair. Sometimes a man’s work or other obligations prevent him from attending a prenatal appointment, but most men we know attend the majority of appointments – or never have never missed one. And, they usually have more motivation to be there or read through the books and guides because it’s an opportunity to learn about something they’ll never experience.

It’s important you ensure the dad is well prepared for the tasks and struggles ahead.
This insinuates that dad is inadequate, needs help and isn’t prepared for what’s coming. Remember, the mom-to-be has never been pregnant before, either. She isn’t any more prepared for the forthcoming tasks and struggles than the dad-to-be. They’re in this together.

Getting Dad Involved
This heading makes dad sound like he’s a pet that needs trained, or is like a child that needs to be taught something while unfairly implying that dad currently isn’t involved. Why even go there? Could you ever imagine a headline that reads, “Getting mom involved”? Of course not, so why make dads appear to be deficient?

1. Communicate with one another!
Make the birth plan together. Dad is your life partner. Why not make him your pregnancy partner as well? Making sure you both are on the same page throughout the process can do a great deal to improve your relationship. Create a regular date night and make it a habit throughout parenthood.
All true, but let’s refrain from calling dad a pregnancy partner or coach – he’s dad. Anything else makes him out to be less than an equal player in parenting. He has an equal stake in this pregnancy and its outcome.

2. Attend Appointments and Classes Together.
Attend at least a handful of medical appointments as a couple and make sure you both attend educational classes. This helps dad understand more about what’s needed with prenatal care and prepares him for the ins and outs of birth. It also lets him experience important moments like hearing the baby’s heartbeat. Encourage him to pose his own questions to the doctors and educators.
Again, the woman is going through this for the first time, too, and isn’t any more prepared for pregnancy than a man. She’s hearing the heartbeat for the first time. She has questions, too, and doesn’t need to be prodded to speak. Let’s not make dad-to-be to be inferior when it comes to pregnancy just because he isn’t physically carrying the child. And let’s not perpetuate the myth that dad is incompetent, absent and irresponsible.

3. Prepare for Roles to Change.
Getting Dad ready to handle more of the burden around the house and to make sure he preps for the little things, like memorizing the route to the hospital, is essential for a smooth transition. Make sure you both know how to cook, clean, and handle all of the chores. Then establish what you both expect to be the household plan during these challenging months.
Who said dad isn’t carrying his load? Who said he doesn’t know how to cook, clean and handle the chores? By suggesting that he needs to “handle more of the burden around the house,” it implies that he isn’t currently doing his fair share. This stigma is also unfair to moms by creating a perception that housework and cooking is her domain. No matter whether the dad or mom is the breadwinner or homemaker, each contributes to a family and household, and no job is more important or more commendable than the other.

5 Basic Rules for Dad as a Pregnancy Partner
Be flexible
Be ready to work hard
Be prepared
Be ready for surprises
Be aware of what she wants
Once again, the implication here is that dad is insufficient and needs to work on things in order to become equal to mom. And as much as dad needs to “be aware of what she wants,” that last rule seems rather one-sided; dad also has “wants” during this monumental change in life, and he matters every bit to the child as mom. A nice follow-up column might focus on those dadly wants.

We’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is dad inclusion

For decades, health and wellness product marketers have placed mom in the lead when it comes to taking care of sick children. For example, it’s commonplace to see children’s medications employ the phrase “mom recommended” or “used by more moms.” The concept is based on the notion that mom is the nurturer and caregiver, and the only one who nurses a sick child back to health while dad is not involved.exergen3.png

We all know that times have changed, and that today’s modern family is different from those of yesteryear.

Thermometer-maker Exergen has been circulating a promo lately that continues with this same premise. Yet it takes the gender-biased language even further by creating what it calls a “Mother’s Rebate.” This, of course, creates the awkward situation where a dad could plausibly apply for and receive a rebate that supposedly was not intended for him.

It’s difficult to accept this slanted name for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that it discounts fathers as true parents. exergen.jpg

This makes the irony just that much greater when you visit its website, where it proudly boasts that Exergen is “changing the way the world takes temperature.” However, dads are a part of this world, too. In our estimation, Exergen’s promo is only perpetuating old-fashioned stereotypes that squarely disregard dads as nurturers and caregivers.

Let’s hope Exergen can get it straight before its self-made dad-exclusion-fever reaches new levels. After all, there are other brand name thermometers out there.

Cleaning up diapers: why the race for dads is on

In the world of diapers, there seems to be a sudden race to reach the long, undervalued segment of dads.

Although in some respects, the race might resemble that of a slow crawl.

Within the past month, we’ve seen the big three diaper makers – Pampers, Huggies and Luvs – all take intriguing steps toward speaking to the parent other than mom. Of course, that would be dad, the other parent who’s curiously inconspicuous from most diaper websites.

Pampers seems to be in the early lead, having quietly updated its prominent menu tabpampers2.jpg with little fanfare:  “Mommy Corner” was switched to “Parent Corner.”  Of course, Dad Marketing Headquarters noticed the change, and gave instant kudos for the fantastic, albeit minor one-word upgrade.  Fresh off its successful #PampersBabyBoard event, several dads there and elsewhere noticed the improvement and too offered their appreciation via social media.  Pampers still has a way to go to reach full parental inclusion, but tweaking a prominent communication tool like a website menu is a positive start.

Huggies, on the other hand, maintains its long-standing “Mommy Answers” menu tab, a huggies2section which ignores fathers as equal parents in more ways than one.  We’ve been in communication with its PR agency, who assures us that changes are on the way this summer.

Huggies is no stranger to controversy. Its 2012 “Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test” campaign backfired, causing its marketing team to embark on some serious damage control after one father started a “We’re dads, Huggies. Not dummies,” petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week.

huggies7And just this calendar year it maintained a web page at huggies.com offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Do Diapers.”  That piece has since been removed.

Luvs also made a significant change last week:  one of its front page web sliders at luvs.com was altered after repeated nudging from our office.  It only took a simple edit to make dads everywhere feel included with its new self-proclaimed slogan:  “The Official Diaper of Experienced luvs7.pngParents.”  The only problem is, there’s other sliders on its landing page that contain other mom-only references, as well as others on its site that need updated, too.

These easy fixes are often at the core of the problem.  So often it’s a matter of a quick edit – many times a mere one word – that would make a noticeable difference.  In today’s ease-of-use content management world, they’re the kind of changes that anyone could make quick and painless within minutes.  While Huggies’ changes seem to be part of a full site-wide revision and overhaul, why wait to make uncomplicated, one-word adjustments?  Those straightforward, obvious fixes should be made right now.  All of this is part of a slow, drawn-out process and it doesn’t need to be this way.  Equality shouldn’t wait.

For now, at least a word of congrats to these diaper makers is in order.  But at the same time, no parent would let a child sit for days with an oopsie in its diaper.  So why should an exclusionary website sit unattended to, just the same?

The race is on to capitalize on the spending power of dads.  Who will win?  Keep up-to-date with this site and also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where you can be certain we’ll stay on top of it.

Baby food is important – and so are dads

Could it really be the business model of Beech-Nut to exclude dads as part of its beechnut1.pngcustomer base?

It’s a fair question when you visit beechnut.com and read its content.  After all, what else is one to think when you see a website which speaks only to moms and ignores dads as fully competent and equal parents?

Having a practice like this would be like showing up at a party where the host only speaks to your partner and completely ignores you.  Doesn’t talk to you.  Doesn’t even look at you.

It was a little like that with Beech-Nut’s CEO Jeff Boutelle, who used the word “moms” 18 times during this 2014 interview with Grocery Headquarters, with nary a mention of “dads.”

beechnut2.jpgNo one likes to be left out, but sadly, this belief is penned right within its mission, where it insists only moms prepare food for families.

Yet even if Beech-Nut claims that research proves the majority of its customers are moms, why exclude the dad segment as if it doesn’t matter?  Stereotypical dad-products (e.g., tools, cars), or even sports, doesn’t hone its marketing exclusive to men.  So why must Beech-Nut craft its message to the exclusion of equally capable parents like dads?beechnut3.png

It’s a gender bias, which is sexist and wrong.  Dads cook.  Dads buy baby food.  Dads feed children.

We’re calling for Beech-Nut to treat dads like true parents and make some quick edits to its website and social media.  If its values include “real food for everyone,” then it must think not only about current dads, but the future ones who are eating its product right now – and will want to be valued as consumers someday when they become dads, too.

Seahorse of a different color

Every good invention is born out of necessity.

So when Don Hudson created Seahorses – America’s first and only retail store geared toward fathers – nothing surprised him about the process, his concept and its need. What surprised him was that no one had ever thought of it before.seahorses4.JPG

“That’s what blows my mind,” he said. “That no one has done this before. How am I the first? That no one noticed this huge, gaping market before?”

That huge, gaping market – as Hudson knows all too well – belongs to dads.

“When you market to that dad like he’s a mom, you build up a wall,” said Hudson. “He doesn’t want to talk to you.”

Yet every bit an equal parent who nurtures, raises, feeds, shops and provides for his family, dad remains ignored by marketers who either don’t know how to reach him, or purposely avoid his presence based on habit. Old fashioned stereotypes and labels may die hard in the world of marketing and media, but it’s ancient history at Seahorses in Portland, Ore., where Hudson’s progressive shop has skyrocketed to notoriety since opening in June 2015.seahorses1.JPG

His shop celebrates the unique needs and challenges of parenting as a father in a world that traditionally caters to mothers.

What makes men uncomfortable in stores? Not having products with which they can’t relate as fathers. At Seahorses, you’ll find plenty of baby, child and parental items necessary for raising a family – but with an eye on dads.

So while big box baby stores have nursing equipment, Seahorses offers Leatherman multitools and shaving kits. Traditionally diaper bags are frilly and pink; no dads want to carry those, and some moms don’t either. Hudson curated diaper bags that are masculine and stylish enough for fathers to sport. Other baby stores offer organic clothing, but dads don’t care about that; they want things to last. So, Seahorses offers Carhartt kids clothing. No maternity tops here – try matching dad and child shirts.

seahorses6.jpgA lack of those items meaningful to fathers, combined with a prejudice toward dads, is what drove Hudson to bring his idea to fruition. He experiences a bias all too often while together with his wife, raising their four children.

“Dads are (treated like) a sideline parent, and they are not marketed to,” he said. “And let me tell you, I did all the shopping when I was stay-at-home. When you walk in to these baby stores, they’d say, ‘What did mom send you in for? Where’s her list?’ It’s a turn off. Has no one noticed that dads are being alienated? You’re creating a subconscious culture of bias toward dads.”

His store even reaches beyond tangible products and the overall shopping experience by serving as equal part gathering space. There you’ll find an enclosed play space with seating, free Wi-Fi and a community meeting area for classes, workshops and events. And there’s even free coffee.

“It’s a space for anybody,” Hudson said. “The idea is that it’s more of an atmosphere that’s comfortable for dads. I have darker wood and subdued colors. It’s a masculine and man-cavey kind of feel so you’re like, ‘This is a baby store, but it’s for dads.’”seahorses2.JPG

Hudson assures his store is for both moms and dads, and gets plenty of customers of each, along with some hesitancy. Moms sheepishly ask if they can come in, while dads’ tendency leans toward tentative, mostly due in part to other store experiences, but also because of how they’re treated as second-class parents in stores of any kind.

“(Dads) come in and look around and say, ‘This is really cool; this is my place,’” Hudson said. “You can see this weight melt off of them when they walk halfway through the store.”

Hudson gets a lot of dads and moms who come in to hang out, work on their blog or social media, or just want a simple five-minute break. His intimate, personal community has even helped nurture some lifelong friendships, which he loves to see.seahorses7.jpg

As the business grows and soon-to-be e-commerce takes off, Hudson hopes to expand his concept further:  “I think this kind of resource needs to be available for every community and every parent, where moms and dads are both allowed.”

His store’s name is derived from the sea creature who takes care of its offspring entirely. Male seahorses undergo pregnancy and care for the young as they grow.

“In nature, I think the seahorse is probably the world’s most perfect father,” he said. “If you’re a seahorse, you’re a perfect father.”

Unfortunately, society and commerce tend to alienate dads before they even become one. So, Hudson is just happy to be offering a place to help dads become better dads, because he knows that process is shaped well before the actual birth.

“Moms have plenty of places to go, dads don’t,” he said. “Having dads marketed to properly and involved in the marketing process give them that foundation for being involved with kids.”

Why is Disney making dads out to be moms?

Sometimes it appears as if Disney can do no wrong.

Most of its movies are hits.  Disney TV is generally squeaky clean and safe.  Media acquisitions seem to be financial steals.  Its merchandising knows no bounds.  And a visit to one of its theme parks has become a consensus family destination of a lifetime for many.

But at least one part of it is a major letdown.

That’s because Disney Parks, a subsidiary responsible for the conception, building and managing of its theme parks and vacation resorts, offers a rather dad exclusionary feature on its website, disneyparks.com.

Click on the Vacation Planning menu tab, and you’ll find a section offering a Moms Panel, an inexcusable practice that leaves dads out in name, and in other unfortunate ways.disneymoms1.png

First, Disney Parks offers no Dads Panel counterpart, thus ignoring a father’s contribution and unique perspective for vacation planning.  By presenting no voice for dads and the viewpoints they might lend while families prepare for a dream destination, it directly ignores the indispensable influence of fathers.  Disney is also clearly saying that dads don’t handle this vacation planning facet of family life, and that dads don’t matter.

But wait – you say – there are some dads on the panel.

And therein lies problem number two, where it uses the term “mom” as an equal synonym for “parent” – a faulty, exclusionary approach when marketing to families, families which include dads.  There are very few products exclusively intended for one gender as parents, and vacation planning certainly is not one of them.

Alas, the term gender bias comes to mind.

Disney makes matters worse by trying to rationalize its practice of replacing the word parent with mom:

We understand that the role of “mom” is met differently from family to family, so we made sure to fill our panel with enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse individuals—moms, dads and other in the know family members—to help guide you with your vacation planning.

Note how the word mom is placed in quotes.  Here, at least in Disney’s world, all dads are no longer equal parents, they’re moms!

Let that sink in for a moment:  Disney is calling dads, moms.

Don’t dads matter to Disney more than this?  Must dads’ presence as equal parents be demeaned, it not outright ignored?  It’s wrong.  Dads matter every bit as moms.

Now take a look at those actual dads serving as Moms Panelists:  don’t these dads have a problem with this concept?  If one was called a mom at a public function, wouldn’t he correct the speaker?  Let’s hope so.  So why let it persist online, in print, for the entire world to see?  disneymoms2.jpg

This whole discomfiture is not just literally inaccurate – it’s gauche, inappropriate and disrespectful.

And ignoring the contribution of a father by way of exclusion in its name – Moms Panel – doesn’t exactly feel welcoming to fathers seeking information.  It leaves them out of the discussion, and makes them feel like outsiders – that is, if they even bother to find and examine the site in the first place.

What’s more, among its entire 27 panelists only two are dads?  That’s hardly representative of the population, nor its customer base.disneymoms3.jpg

Third, it’s beyond disappointing that the Moms Panel was unveiled in 2008, during these politically correct times.  It’s not like we excuse Jif for prolonging use of its old fashioned motto, but at least it was born during a time where its slogan was representative of a bygone era.  That slogan, too, is inappropriate and Jif is taking steps to minimize (perhaps eliminate) its use.

But 2008?  That’s a mere eight years ago.  In this so-called modern, gender sensitive, all-inclusive, equality-seeking world, doesn’t Disney have some high level PR officer who would’ve screened this before it even happened?

This entire Moms Panel endeavor reflects a huge lapse in judgement for a global mass media and entertainment conglomerate that considers its parks “the Happiest Place on Earth.”

Dads can’t be happy with this kind of treatment.disneymoms4.jpg

Whether or not you’ve made it to Disneyland or Disney World before, at least we can all say we’ve enjoyed its movies over the years, and we continue to be enthralled with its new Star Wars handiwork and future plans.

But that’s what makes the rub hurt even more, because with Disney, we expect more.  We don’t just want our expectations met, we want them to be exceeded.  Sure, that’s a lofty desire, and maybe a bit unfair, but that’s the standard Disney has set.  We expect greatness.  Perfection.  Happiness.

All of it makes Disney’s use of the Moms Panel name indefensible.

Not long ago, Amazon – the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States – finally responded to the PR nightmare known as Amazon Mom by quietly and suddenly changing its name to reflect dads’ contributions as parents.

Let’s hope Disney can make a swift change, too, and thereby stake its claim as the Happiest Panel on Earth.