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.

Why Did “Luca” Have an Absent-Minded Dad?

Alberto and Luca in a scene from Disney and Pixar’s “Luca” (courtesy Disney/Pixar)

For all the fun that Disney and Pixar’s latest film, “Luca,” predictably provides, it steps backward by employing a time-worn trope you might not have expected: the absent-minded dad.

With likable Jim Gaffigan at the helm – who admittedly knows a thing or two about dadly self-depreciation – it’s a surprising move while the rest of Hollywood seeks equality and eradication of stereotypes.

Of course, films are trying to right the ship. Superheroes aren’t just white anymore; they reflect nationalities across a wide spectrum. We’re largely done seeing damsels in distress; today’s successful female characters don’t sexualize or diminish their gender, they lead. Even animation has taken strides by employing actors whose skin represent their cartooned personas.

But then you have “Luca” with its preoccupied dad.

What in the name of Pixar’s lamp is going on here?

The sad part is this was unwarranted, gratuitous and preventable. While Luca’s overly protective mother Daniela (Maya Rudolph) admirably tries to save the day – Gaffigan’s character is left looking like her passive assistant at best.

For once, moviegoers get to see both Disney parents alive and instead they’re treated to a dad who can’t seem to get this parenthood thing down. The same idea was employed in 2018’s “The Incredibles 2,” as the dad from the titular superhero family struggled in his new role as a stay-at-home parent.

One could claim this film’s 1950s period setting merely reflects how dads were less involved during a simplified “Leave it to Beaver” era. Yet this categorization is unfair to the Greatest Generation who worked hard to provide for their families and got labeled as “distant” or “uninvolved.”

What moviegoers could have really used is some dad positivity, especially as the Disney+ film opened a mere two days before Father’s Day, and with the world slowly opening from a pandemic. Instead, subscribers were not only treated to an unnecessary absent-minded dad, but another – only mentioned by name – who abandoned his son (Luca’s new friend, Alberto).

In an otherwise beautiful Disney/Pixar movie filled with dazzling visuals, strong character development and a kindhearted story – even if it mimics 1989’s “The Little Mermaid” – it was a shame to see a dad used so little and leaning lazily on threadbare comic material.

While the rest of the nation looks with careful judgment on unfortunate stereotypes, this film sadly takes a step backward with equality. Dads have never been more active and involved in their families – and they’ve operated this way for a long time. Disney/Pixar should reflect this in film.

It’s time the entertainment world truly catches up because the next generation of fatherhood is watching.

Parenting Isn’t a Mindset, It’s a Vocation

Similac has long offered a StrongMoms program despite selling a product any parent can use. We’ve pointed it out in the past and received nothing in response – until now.

We replied to one of Similac’s StrongMoms social media posts with, “It’s baby formula. Why not call it StrongParents Rewards? #DadsCountToo”

Similac had a most curious response.

“While named StrongMoms, it’s really meant to be a mindset that encourages and supports all parents in the decisions they make for their families. So any caregiver who identifies with our message should feel like they can be a part of StrongMoms. We have plans to continuously improve our program for ALL caregivers, and we’ll be sure to share your feedback with our team.”

A great deal of sexism can be deduced from this three-sentence response:

1. If you’re a male, you’re not a dad – you’re a mom. Similac says that if you identify with their message of being a parent, you’re essentially a mom. Forget the fact you’re a dad or could even be a grandparent caregiver. Everyone is considered a mom in its program because mom is the default parent. Dads don’t matter.

2. Dad isn’t capable of being a caregiver. Don’t beat around the bush Similac, just say it – you don’t think dads are equally capable parents. You don’t believe dads are as good parents as moms. That why you can’t even state the word dad in your response. Of course, the truth is mothers bear no more instinctual ability to parent than fathers.

3. Let’s call a spade a spade. Why doesn’t Similac simply change the program’s name? Why can’t it employ the word parents instead of moms? Does Similac feel inclusion of the word parents would cause moms to become less interested in its products? That seems unlikely. Here’s what we do know: if your name is biased, your program is biased. If your logo is biased, your message is biased. If your photos are biased, your potential customers can’t identify with whatever message you’re trying to convey.

4. Gender equality doesn’t work both ways. Women deserve gender equality in the work force and companies wouldn’t dare suggest otherwise. Men deserve gender equality in the home but don’t get it. Promoting a mindset where dads aren’t supported in name isn’t supporting. It’s time for change.

5. Conduct a ‘switch the name’ test. Replace the word mom with dad to see how it reads and whether or not it might exclude. If so, it might be time to consider a more inclusive name. When a company doesn’t recognize and see the value of the man a woman chose to be her husband and father of their children, that could very well be insulting to moms, too.

Is This Really a ‘Parents’ Magazine?

Parents Magazine has provided much inspiration for our recent social media posts. For a magazine that purports to be for “parents,” its readers and the parenting community might insist otherwise. But don’t take our or others’ words for it. Check out Parents Magazine’s very own content and you be the judge.

Dads love making and serving their kids healthy snacks, too. Why does Parents Magazine insist on making mom look like the only one who cares about nutrition?

This is another example of a headline that makes mom out to be the lead parent.

Don’t dad-tested discipline tricks work? “Parent-tested” would have been much more appropriate.

Here’s a way to increase male readership — mention them, involve them, ask them, survey them, talk about them. There’s no better way to engage someone with your mission than to make them feel like they matter.

‘Twas the Night Before Shopping

‘Twas the night before shopping, as Christmas was coming,
Dad got the list ready, his fingers were humming.
He had to get set, he led the charge,
He scoured the ‘net, finding deals that were large.

The children were snoozing asleep undercover,
Also dreaming of Black Friday deals they’d discover.
With mama beside him, they both went a-clicking,
Shopping online takes a lot of nitpicking.

When they got to homepages, they saw some odd chatter,
Which insisted that dads didn’t all that much matter.
Site after site excluded dear dad,
Using wording for moms, which left them both sad.

It was hard to believe how dads were excluded,
“moms ran the home,” some companies alluded.
Wherever you looked no matter the price,
The omission of dad didn’t seem very nice.

When out on social media things got rather viral.
Other parents complained of this bad downward spiral.
So away to the car dad flew in a dash,
To confirm dads shopped and used hard-earned cash.

The tune as you’d guess on the mall speakers,
Was Bing Crosby singing to dads in their sneakers.
Across the food court and wide galleria,
Dads shopped and hunted for their next idea.

Not vapid but lively dads moved all about,
Wives and kids tagged along as dads started to shout:
“I know where we’ll save, I saw deals on my phone.
Just follow my plan, I’m so in the zone.
I worked hard for our money, so let’s stretch our dollar.
Finding deals is my game,” the dads seemed to hollar.

So up to each level, dads and families flew,
Finding specials, discounts and markdowns anew.
And then, I noticed and heard just for proof,
Dads tending to kids, they weren’t aloof.

They were dressed in their best, their entire outfit,
And some dads were stained with yellow baby spit.
A big diaper bag they’d flung on their backs,
They sure looked like parents, they even carried snacks.

Their guise wasn’t wrinkled, their beards were so hairy,
For months they were sleepy yet still acted merry.
‘Cause nothing did stop them with kids all in tow,
with presents to buy, they couldn’t move slow.

Their teeth how they shined, not the least bit of faint,
A halo encircled their heads like a saint.
They had broad faces, some were fit, some were not.
And they always stooped down to wipe faces with snot.

Called hubby and dad, those men never stopped,
And I nodded in favor and as they heroically shopped.
Those marketers who think that dads don’t shop,
Should have seen these guys their children call pop.

Mentioning dad by word may not seem like a lot,
But it gets them involved, makes them feel like they ought.
Dads sense that they matter when included by name,
It strengthens the family, it treats them the same.

Then you’ll hear them exclaim, above Christmas décor,
“I am daddy – hear me roar!”

Something’s Fishy Here

One could easily argue that Goldfish is the Disney of snack crackers.

Starting from a single idea, the company has widely diversified, established itself as an industry leader, expanded into larger markets around the globe, spanned generations, segmented into other areas and created the world’s most recognizable cracker – which serves as the company’s official mascot.

The Goldfish cracker is simple, tiny and lovable – not to mention tasty, which is more than you can say for Disney’s official mascot. It’s the perfect go-to snack for youth sports everywhere, solidly paired with its thirst-quenching counterpart, the juice box.

The Goldfish cracker has had different shapes, colors, flavors, branded tie-ins and spinoffs. As consumers, we eat them for snacks, at meals and as desserts.

(Now, if they could only figure out a breakfast-style cracker.)

Quite simply, there is nothing the Goldfish cracker can’t do.

Except champion equality.

Its latest ad disregards fathers – an unfortunate tactic from a company with a decent track record.

Just two years ago we thanked Goldfish for its inclusive message right on the package. Today, its latest magazine ad tosses dads back into the water for no apparent reason.

Words matter – something Goldfish, Pepperidge Farm and its creative team apparently has yet to learn. It had better change its ways soon before mainstream media, social media and society’s disapproving stare reminds them that stereotypes are wrong.

Everyone’s watching.

It’s a Start, But planDisney Still Needs Work

Following years of supplication and sometimes derision, the Walt Disney Company finally gave fathers, families and a nation what they have been asking for since its inception – a new name.

planDisney is the label for the retooled Disney Parks Moms Panel, an online resource for Disney vacation planning. Though once comprised of moms and – awkwardly – dads, the name reflects a shift in tone after Disney admitted moms weren’t the only ones planning Disney vacations.

Its previously narrow approach raised the ire of fathers, grandparents, uncles – and not surprisingly – people without children across social media who felt their value as a guest didn’t matter.

With its new, more inclusive term, it doesn’t pretend to cater toward one gender or family class. It now offers an improved approach that concludes vacation planning is conducted by everyone.

Though beyond overdue, Disney still deserves credit for making the switch, even if it was America’s critical eye toward stereotypes that forced its hand.

However, planDisney still needs a lot of work.

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Panel diversity

If the panel is a true reflection of Disney Parks guests, the panel is sorely missing the mark. Among its 35 panelists, only four of them are men and all four men are middle-aged. It’s difficult for vacation planners to benefit from expertise from both genders when the balance is that lopsided. Surely males have plenty to lend about the best time of year to visit, how to save money and the best hotels.

What’s more, 28 of the 35 panelists appear to be white. This can’t be representative of America. Movie audiences know that whitewashing is bad, and it’s being done in similar fashion here. Greater diversity would mean different angles from a wider expanse; greater diversity would mean more people would get an opportunity to serve as a panelist and enjoy the incredible perks it brings.

And where are the grandparents? The college-aged young adults? The children? Everyone could gain from their perspective when it comes to planning the vacation of a lifetime. Their viewpoints would be equally valuable for what should be the ultimate trip-planning resource.

It wasn’t ready

One of planDisney’s largest followings resides not on Facebook, but Twitter, where 26,000 people track @DisneyMoms. But planDisney hasn’t transitioned to its new name on Twitter yet.

Working during a pandemic has its shortcomings, but that’s little excuse for a program that should have had every nuance worked out before going live. Besides, social media is where most fans were vocal about the sexist vibe Disney Moms generated.

It not only needs to fix its old name on Twitter, but also graphics and hashtags, along with news of the name change – which would amount to its first tweet in months.

A weird history

Have you read the history on its about us page? It makes no explicit mention of its all-female past – or why it was justified in the first place – until it admits that “the panel also grew to include dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more.”

It then strangely concedes, “We know planning a Disney vacation includes everyone…”

Sure, planDisney has a strange evolution, but here’s a tip: there’s no need to rehash it for anyone. Drop the clumsy justification for a sexist past as if it’s a point of pride. planDisney has a clean slate, and it’s time to move on. All is forgiven.

It needs to rewrite this section pronto.

Enough is Enough, Disney

These days Americans won’t put up with stereotypes and ignorance. We’ve reached a boiling point – and with good reason.

Just ask the Washington Redskins, where the almighty dollar finally pushed owner Daniel Snyder over the edge, forcing him to confront years of repudiation regarding his team’s controversial name.

Stereotypes are ugly because they’re overgeneralized and oversimplified ideas about people. They force an identity on someone or something that isn’t true.

disneymoms48

With the rest of the America turning a critical eye toward all forms of ethnic and racial stereotypes, it’s hard to imagine brands still ignoring miscalculations in other areas.

For years we’ve written about Disney Moms and its refusal to retitle an outwardly discriminatory and exclusionary name. Overall, it’s a fantastic, well-intentioned program which offers Disney vacation advice from seasoned travelers.

However, the explicitly mom-only branding works to create an unknowing, needless divide in the parenting community. Not only does it refuse to acknowledge dads by name, it awkwardly inserts dads into a moms’ program and uncomfortably makes them a gender they’re not.

In 2019, Disney Moms quietly removed “moms” from its long-standing #SMMC hashtag and event name – Social Media Moms Celebration – but it was hardly enough.

The time has come to deal head-on with a program that should know better in today’s equality-focused world.

Yet somehow, someway it has spurned addressing the elephant in the room. Check out its April 27 post (also pictured above) where it continues to treat dads like secondary parents to the unfortunate extreme of ignoring their gender, identity and status in today’s modern family.

Families have noticed the omission on social media lately – perhaps a reflection of the pandemic’s stay-at-home nature which has affected our perception and awakened our senses.

Corporate America is being given little choice.

Just as it’s pressured by millions of people who know that Black Lives Matter, perhaps Disney will get with the program before its PR team is forced into spending unnecessary time playing catch-up with families who have had enough.

Why didn’t dads get a Kraft Father’s Day promo?

Last year, Kraft ran a Mother’s Day promotion – Mother’s Day Away – which encouraged moms to take time away from their family as Kraft covered the cost of a babysitter.

Going on the premise that moms wanted time off, Kraft gave $100 to 500 moms – $50,000 in total.

“Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate Mom in all of her greatness, but we know the holiday doesn’t stop the challenges of motherhood – temper tantrums, sleepless nights and picky eaters,” said Sergio Eleuterio, Head of Marketing for Kraft. “With Kraft ‘Mother’s Day Away’ we are giving moms across the country the chance to have what they secretly really want: some time for themselves.”

While the offer was certainly well-intentioned and generous, the holiday promotion had its faults. Namely, why didn’t dad get one?

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What about dad?

A year has passed since the Kraft Mother’s Day campaign. And now with this year’s Father’s Day just around the corner, dads are waiting for their Kraft gesture.

The problem is – they’re going to be waiting a long time. Attempts made to communicate with Kraft via email and social media went unreturned.

Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see a comparable campaign. Food companies have a history of omitting fathers when it comes to holiday promotions.

In today’s modern world where parenting roles are blurred, there’s no reason this should happen.

Negativity

Exclusion aside, there’s other troublesome matters with Mother’s Day Away. The promotion purports that being a parent has more negative experiences than positive ones.

Kraft makes it sound like meltdowns and kids pounding on bathroom doors occur regularly.

There’s no doubt parenting has its moments. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s time to bury the tired trope that kids are hellions who force parents to hide. There’s nothing particularly positive about a contest that implies: “Hey moms, on this heartwarming, family-based holiday, want to avoid the very people who made you a mother in the first place?”

Dads don’t help?

The ad copy also insinuates that dads don’t change diapers and that moms never get a break.

One might argue that the ad hints dads don’t do anything to help, thus creating the very reason for the contest – that a babysitter is required to fill in the shoes of the ignorant father who doesn’t help around the home.

In truth, a babysitter isn’t needed. Kraft should stop perpetuating the unfair, unrealistic and outdated notion that dads don’t help around the home and moms won’t relinquish household responsibilities and want to be Super Moms.

Of course, families realize this isn’t the case. Today’s fathers are actively engaged with household duties: diapering, cooking, cleaning, and, are also very familiar with trying to go to the bathroom while kids pound on the door.

Ad redo

“Leave the mothering to someone else?”

It’s called parenting, and dads are equally competent at it.

Here’s a rough draft for the way the advertisement should have been written: “Leave the parenting to another person for one day and hire a babysitter. Enjoy your day with your husband and/or find something fun to do on your own or with other moms. Submit your receipt and we’ll cover up to $100 for your babysitter bill. We’ll also offer this promotion to dads on Father’s Day.”

Dads are waiting

We’ll give Kraft a free pass this year due to the pandemic, but here’s hoping it will make things right next year.

The time to start planning is now. Kraft should contact real dads and start engaging to find a better way so as to not offend.

As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”