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.

The boldest prediction we’ve ever made

intelligender2When a child starts playing sports, parents will do everything imaginable to be a part of that child’s team.  Whether it’s organizing a booster club, volunteering at the concession stand, providing snacks, coaching, or simply cheering loudly from the stands, parents love to get actively involved.

Dads and pregnancy are often the same.  Aside from carrying out the actual birth, dads routinely like to get as close to the action as possible:  going to doctor appointments, prepping the baby’s new room, narrowing down baby names, shopping, and so on.  We’ve even met several guys, who like the mothers-to-be, will watch what foods they eat as a show of solidarity.

Alas, men love being team players and involvement, which makes this latest ad by IntelliGender all the more confusing.  Here it tries to take the fun of predicting a child’s birth away from expecting dads.

Why exclude them?

Men love predictions.  An entire month each year is dedicated to brackets and determining the outcome of basketball games.  Meteorologists take educated guesses at the weather daily.  Presidential elections are constantly forecast and polled.

Anytime a pregnancy is involved, that means incessant planning, waiting and predicting – and it’s exactly like the pregame!

If Fox Sports can precede a Super Bowl with six hours of nonstop banter trying to prophesy the winner and speculate on players who will make an impact, wouldn’t most guys want to turn a life-changing, baby-to-be moment into a fun pre-birth experience?

Doesn’t IntelliGender think that guys would want in on this action, rather than exclude them?

Just imagine the entertainment.  Want to wager on the child’s gender?  How about bracketizing your name choices?  What’s the over-under on its weight and height?

Think of the enjoyment that could be spread around, not just with dad-to-be, but with everyone.  IntelliGender’s own slogan is “Share the joy!,” but its marketing materials hardly want to divvy it around.

Let’s hope IntelliGender can start to include dads in its future messages, or odds are, another company will beat them to it.

DadsR’ntUs

babiesrusIt’s one thing to diss dads throughout fatherhood, but it takes real chutzpa to do it while the baby hasn’t even come out of the mother’s womb.

And that’s exactly what BabiesRUs accomplished as they effectively discounted at least 18 million dads with one swift blow.

We recently came across the The Big Baby Book from BabiesRUs (Winter 2013/14 edition), a self-promotion sales catalog disguised as a magazine.

The odd thing is, it starts off so amazingly, refreshingly strong with a super cool image and ad copy to back it up. Note the inside cover showing a photo of both mom and dad with the words, “Congratulations! You’re having a baby!”

Here we’re obligated to extend extra bonus points to BabiesRUs for getting it right on at least one page (pictured). Because mom carries the baby, so often those you’re having a baby words are only directed to her, leaving the dad behind and made to feel like he’s not a part of the pregnancy. It was neat to babiesrus2see an ad extend congrats to both parents for once, especially the words, “You’re having a baby!”  Nice to see a company make a dad feel like a part of the pregnancy.

Well done, Backwards R.

However, it goes downhill from there. Turn the page and you’ll find a special pull-out page with the words, “Moms’ #1 Baby Registry.” If you missed it there, don’t worry, the words are repeated a few pages later. And throughout the 98 pages you’ll encounter a total of 20 images of moms compared to a mere five dads. Dads care for and raise kids, so why the off-balance ratio? It’s just not right, BabiesRUs.

Finally, if that isn’t enough to make dads shoulders feel a little cold, the back cover slams home with certainty who exactly BabiesRUs wants to shop with them as they pronounce, “BabiesRUs registry: Chosen by 18 million moms…and counting!”

Over on our Twitter site we often use the hashtag #dadscounttoo.

Yes indeed, BabiesRUs, dads do count, too. Hopefully you’ll start counting them as a part of your customer base someday soon.

The Grinch who stole Father’s Day

No matter how long we live, we all have this same statistic in common: we got to spend (roughly) nine months being held exclusively by our mothers. Life expectancy aside, and speaking solely in general terms, mothers will have always had at least nine more months than fathers to hold their children.

During pregnancy, of course, fathers have the chance to touch the belly, but there’s a barrier in the way. Fathers can experience a baby kick, but the sensation for the mother and child are one and the same. Fathers can talk and sing to the infant inside the mother’s womb, but babies not johnson&johnsononly hear the mother’s voice – they feel it.

I once heard a woman tell the story how their child died upon birth. She asked the nurses to let the dad, not her, be the first to hold their child, because he naturally never got to during the pregnancy. Besides, it was the first, only, and last time he would embrace their child all in the same instance.

Mothers have the exclusive, honored gift of carrying children. That’s special. That creates a bond with every child that doesn’t make it more superior than with a father, just unique.

And it should be treated with uniqueness, even in marketing.

However, Johnson & Johnson’s latest ad artlessly exudes and radiates exclusion. It doesn’t take a deep thinker to see that dads, plain and simple, are crudely left out of this marketing message. What’s more, the advertisement is ironically straight out of the June 2014 Parents magazine, which includes a special reading section specifically for dads, timed knowingly for Father’s Day.

That’s some holiday present from Johnson & Johnson, huh dads? A sucker punch below the belt, followed by a kick in the teeth, finished off with salt in the wounds.

I expected more from this company so synonymous with baby care. No head-to-toe wash around is going to clean up this mess.