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!”

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.

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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.”

Ask mom how she feels about dad’s exclusion

Getting marketing and media to be more inclusive of fatherhood has many key factors.

Of course, the obvious consequence of ignoring dad is the degradation of fatherhood.

Yet there is another area of concern involving all of parenthood, particularly mothers.

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Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms.

It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman.

It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reaching her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids.

It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result.

Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood = both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services.

Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

Ask mom how she feels about dad being excluded.

You might be surprised how much it affects her.

What social media thinks of the ‘Mr. Mom’ reboot

If social media is any indication, the controversial “Mr. Mom” reboot must be nearing the end of its streaming life.

Viewers didn’t take kindly to the announcement of a reboot on the Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu.

And the rest of the Twitterverse hardly knows it’s there – as of today, @MrMomTV has a mere 171 followers.

All of which barely warrants demand for keeping “Mr. Mom” on Hollywood life-support.

Here’s what commenters have had to say so far about “Mr. Mom” reboot.

How the Grinch Ignored Dads

Every family on Earth liked dads a lot…
But marketing and media, who lived on Earth too, did NOT!

They both ignored dads, even in June.
Now, please don’t ask why. No one can answer that soon.
It could be they were stuck in the Fifties.
It could be, perhaps, that the VPs were iffy.
But I think that the most likely reason to say,
May have been that they don’t know dads of today.

But, whatever the reason, being old-fashioned or mulish,
They stood there, looking at dads, acting so foolish.
Staring down from their boardrooms with a sour, grumbly frown,
At the warm lighted homes below in their town.
For they knew every dad down on Earth beneath,
Was busy now, shopping, cooking and feeding.

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“And they’re helping with kids” (which to us seemed apparent).
“Tomorrow on Christmas, they’ll act like they’re parents.”
Then they growled, with their fingers nervously a-patter.
“I must find some way to stop dads from being treated like they matter.”

For tomorrow, they knew, that dads of all kinds
Would wake bright and early, making Christmas day shine.
For the dads with their families, would sit down to a feast.
They helped cook and serve it, and shopped too, at least.
Which was something their marketing data hadn’t released.

And THEN dads would do something they liked least of all.
Every dad to be found, the tall and the small,
Would stand in the living room, so very involved.
They’d be with their kids, they had lots of fun.
CEOs don’t want to admit, but that’s how it’s always been done.

And the more marketing and media thought of those dads,
The more they thought, “We must create some new ads!”
“Why, for several years we’ve put up with it now!”
“We MUST stop dads from looking like they’re equally, competent parents! But HOW?”

Then they got an idea! An awful idea!
THE MARKETING AND MEDIA GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“We know just what to do!” they laughed, oh so brash.
So they made reboot of Mr. Mom in a flash.
And they chuckled, and clucked, “What a great marketing trick!
With these shows and new ads, fathers won’t look so slick.”

Then they ran some campaigns that ignored dear, old dad.
They discounted his moves, and made him look bad.
They excluded with clubs and groups so complete.
Disney Moms, Chick-fil-A Moms, Walmart Moms all did meet.

But they didn’t stop there, media insisted with glee.
The headlines ridiculed dad hastily.
Moms do the laundry. Moms pack the lunches.
Moms handle checkups. They do it in bunches.”

Kellogg’s, Gerber, Pampers and Jif.
They’ve all ignored dad – it caused quite a riff.
And just when you thought they were all out of feats,
“And NOW!” grinned marketing and media, “I will exclude more with some tweets!”

Then they opened their browser, and started to click,
When they noticed some dads who were commenting quick.
Dads stared at those ads and said, “Marketing and media, why…
Why are you ignoring dads? WHY?”

But, you know, those corporate heads were so smart and so slick,
They thought up a lie, and they thought it up quick!
“Why, my dear old dads,” marketing and media lied,
“Moms want to cook and clean, and do the work inside.
The kitchen, the laundry, the chores – it’s all theirs.
They want the control, they don’t want to share.”

And their fibs fooled consumers, but something didn’t seem right.
In today’s modern world, dad’s involved day and night.

It was quarter past dawn, all the dads, still-a-bed,
plus the moms and the kids, still a-snooze and misled.

“Pooh-Pooh to the dads,” marketing and media did chatter.
“They’re finding out now, that to families, they don’t matter.
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open, but if you want proof,
The dads in their homes will remain so aloof.”

“That’s a sight,” grinned marketing and media, “That I simply MUST see!”
So they paused and figured everyone would agree.
And they did see a sight in homes across Earth.
It started upon birth, and as kids grew in worth.

But the sight wasn’t sad. Why this sight looked so fun!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS fun – not even outdone!
Marketing and media stared down at homes!
They popped their eyes!
Then they shook and saw a shocking surprise!

Every dad down on Earth, the righteous and errant,
Surprise, surprise – knew just how to parent!
They DIDN’T have to be taught, told, or trained,
Instinctually they managed, their minds were ingrained.

Marketing and media hadn’t stopped dads from being parents. They already were!
Somehow or other, they were equally sure.

And the marketing and media, with their old-fashioned way,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How’d they manage today?
They cooked, cleaned and helped.
They handled it steady. They equally tended to children already.”
And they puzzled three hours, till their puzzlers were sore.
Then marketing and media thought of something they hadn’t before!
“Maybe dads,” they thought, “aren’t parents to ignore.
Maybe dads…perhaps…mean a little bit more!”

And what happened then…? Well, on the Internet they say,
That the marketing and media’s hearts grew three sizes that day!

And the minute their hearts didn’t quite feel so tight,
They brainstormed ideas to put dads in new light,
And they stopped the negative shows, programs and ads!

And they…the marketing and media themselves…took some time to know dads!

Dads already have their priorities straight, now marketing and media need to do the same

Willful pigeonholing of dad by marketers and media into the secondary parent role feeds our senses, shapes our attitudes and makes us believe that all dads aren’t as skilled and competent as moms. The formula works so well that companies have convinced themselves that nothing has changed over the years, and thus, the typecasting continues.

As a result, society makes this persist in many ways.

One example is the methodology of the academic studies about moms and dads and their role as parents. The observations and conclusions are usually mom-biased and more importantly discount, overlook, or ignore a dad’s perspective.

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One recent illustration of this is a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. This study was featured in a Star Tribune article on October 15, 2016, titled, “Among Parents, Dads Get All the Fun and Moms the Stress and Fatigue.” The researchers sampled more than 12,000 parents while measuring how happy, sad, stressed, fatigued, and meaningful their time was throughout the day, both with their children and apart from them. One of the report’s authors – as well as the media – concluded that moms do more housework and dads get to have more fun.

However, the researchers and media never considered how dads and moms have different priorities when it comes to the time they spend with their kids. The truth is neither approach to parenting is wrong, they’re just different. The same is true when it comes to shopping.

Different priorities doesn’t mean that a dad does not care and a mom is more caring. Most dads work during the week and, because of this, they use their limited spare time to enjoy and have fun with kids. Different also doesn’t mean that dad doesn’t have any interest in shopping or wouldn’t like to share in the shopping duty.

Consider the shaping of thought by the marketing images in advertisements: dad is often viewed as the playmate, while mom handles the cooking, cleaning, and shopping. If gender equity is sought, marketers should consider how genders could be depicted differently and fairly.

The aura of today’s modern dad is vastly different than that of yesteryear. Now is the time for companies to view dads with a clean slate by erasing all the myths and misguided labels, which drag them down from being viewed as equal and adept parents.

A few companies are already realizing this untapped potential, and they stand to maximize gains in a crowded field seeking to win over parents and their spending dollar.