Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
- One-third of men (33%) are the primary shopper in the home
- 7 in 10 dads disagree that mom does most of the shopping for the kids
- Dads control purchasing decisions in home electronics, travel, sporting goods, and entertainment options
- Dads are considerably more likely than moms to be asked for advice on a purchase.*
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A few nights ago, while I was doing my P90X workout (yes, that’s a shameless plug.), I decided to check out the latest “The Simpsons” episode on Hulu. Ironically, the title of the show was “Angry Dad: The Movie,” so I knew that I was in for a treat…not. You see, The Simpsons show has made millions for decades “buffoonorizing” dads in the form of Homer Simpson. Thanks to the show’s handy work, when millions of adults and kids are asked to name a TV dad, Homer is sure the top the list. Not Cliff Huxtable. Homer.
Let’s face it. When it comes to TV dads, we have gone from “Father Knows Best” to father knows nothing. The vast majority of dads on TV, in series or commercials, are portrayed as dumb, dangerous or disaffected. Generally, fathers are not just the butt of the joke, they are the butt…
In any case, in the episode, an executive visited the Simpson home because he came across an animated cartoon that Bart created titled “Angry Dad,” which chronicled Homer’s immature antics. The executive thought this cartoon was great, so much so that he convinced a Hollywood studio to make it into a movie. So, the family headed to Hollywood to get it done. Interestingly, as Bart and the executive were heading in to see the movie producers, the executive assured him that the movie had real potential. In fact, he said, “Everyone has an angry dad…even me.” And then the scene showed a flashback 'thought bubble' of the executive’s dad yelling at him as a small boy.
Well, it turned out that the executive was right. The Angry Dad movie won a Golden Globe and an Oscar, of course, with Homer playing the part of the angry and inconsiderate dad through each award show.
Now, I like a good joke as much as anyone. After all, I recently blogged about my deep affection for the much-maligned fanny pack. But, I really think that there is a problem here, especially since the show's success is built upon the notion of the “idiot” dad that is so prevalent and damaging in our culture. Indeed, media has power to shape norms, attitudes and behaviors. (Just think about how many glee clubs have formed recently due to the success of “Glee.”) Also, it’s worth noting that in our recent national survey of fathers called “Pop’s Culture,” dads cited media/pop culture as the second biggest obstacle to good fathering.
Moreover, as I have watched the show over the years, I have detected a very clear pattern. If you rank the characters based on who is responsible and competent, the list goes like this:
3. Maggie (a non speaking infant)
6. Abe (Homer’s father)
Interestingly, in a non-fiction book called “The Psychology of The Simpsons: D'oh!,” which analyzed the psychological themes in the show, authors Alan Brown, Ph.D. and Chris Logan described Abe Simpson as follows:
“Abe has the least amount of "power" in the Simpson family, and he is treated as little more than a child and is often ignored.”
D’oh! Indeed. And, come to think of it, the one dad on the show that really cares about his kids, Ned Flanders, is often made to look like an idiot as well, even by Homer.
So, before the legions of The Simpsons fans tell me that I am overacting and “Don’t have a cow, man,” I need to hear from the fathers. Are you an angry dad? I wasn’t before watching this The Simpson episode. Now…I am not so sure.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Well, as a dad and fan of said pack, I felt compelled to come clean and "represent."
Now, it has been a few years, but when my sons were young and we were traveling, I proudly called the fanny pack my faithful and convenient friend. Granted, our relationship was more about substance than style. It enabled me to always have exactly what I needed for my very active sons at my finger tips, yet still be hands-free.
Let’s face it. The fanny pack has some other impressive and quite manly fans, such as rock climbers and first responder EMTs. It makes sense. As a dad (especially a new one) on many occasions I certainly felt like I was hanging on for dear life. And, good dads are nothing if not first responders to their children’s needs.
So, there you have it. I have laid myself bare--with my fanny pack strategically positioned, of course. And, in the slightly modified famous words of Martin Luther, as he stood before an inquisition, I say: “Here I stand. I can do no other…”
Friday, February 11, 2011
This is a guest post from Jeff Allanach, a newspaper editor in Maryland. Jeff is a married father of two children, and writes about fatherhood in his weekly column. You can follow Jeff on his Facebook page, Adventures in Fatherhood.
I’m at my best when I do one of two things: play with my children and write.
I feel like Superman when I combine the two, so I saw a great opportunity to leap tall buildings in a single bound when I signed up for “30 Days to Be a Better Dad,” the National Fatherhood Initiative’s program to kick off 2011.
I figured I would write in great detail about my efforts to hone my fathering skills as part of the program. I would share my triumphs with anyone who cared to read about them by answering every question the initiative asked and doing every task challenged of me.
I could do it, I figured. After all, I'm Superman. It would be “American Idol” and “The Justice League” combined in one string of blog posts.
I started out OK by answering a couple of questions in the first e-mail in early January. Yes, I know what my children need (a father who loves them) and we do follow daily routines (two, in fact, morning and night) they find comforting.
It wasn’t as much as I originally planned because I couldn’t find the time to write as much as I wanted. I shrugged, figuring I could still be Batman if not Superman. After all, driving the Batmobile is kind of like flying, right?
I checked off the first week, and waited in anticipation for the next one. When it came, I quickly read through it and gravitated to one tip in particular: “Stay focused.”
No problem, I said. I’m Batman. He has to focus to work all his cool gadgets. I went about my day, which slipped into a week, and then some. So much for staying focused. I tweaked my plan again, and figured I would be Aquaman instead of Batman. After all, talking to fish is kind of like driving the Batmobile, right?
The third week came, and I realized that I already do most of the activities the initiative suggested. I play with my children. I read with them. We bake cookies and have movie nights. The only problem was that it wasn’t the third week. I had fallen behind to the fourth week. I shrugged again, and figured I could be Plastic Man if not Aquaman. After all, being super stretchy is kind of like talking to fish, right?
I looked back at the previous 30 days to account for my time. How could I not find time to write? It’s what I do best. Saturday mornings are a great time to write, but I’ve been taking my daughter to gymnastics, so no writing then. It snowed several times, and that gives me a great opportunity to write because I’m trapped inside. But then again, the best time to make a snowman with your children is when it snows, so no writing then. Evenings are another good time to write, but then there’s homework and Wii Lego Star Wars with the kids, so no writing then. Let’s see, we also did a 500-piece Barbie puzzle, played Legos, and had a marathon session of Connect Four.
No wonder I didn’t have time to write as much as I planned. I was too busy being a dad, and being dad beats Superman every time.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
A recently released study by The Ohio State University suggests that in families with young children, the parents were more likely to have a stronger and more supportive co-parenting relationship if the dad was more involved in play activities than in caregiving activities with the child. On the flip side, if the dad spent more time in caregiving activities (i.e. preparing meals, bathing the child, etc.), the parents were more likely to be less supportive and more undermining towards each other.
Given that today’s dads have taken on significantly more responsibility in the home and family than previous generations of fathers, this is an interesting and, at first glance, a potentially concerning finding.
This increased likelihood of tension between parents when dad helps out with the kids might be due to the mom’s response to the father. The study noted that, “fathers’ increased involvement in caregiving might also arouse negative maternal gatekeeping behaviors (a particular type of undermining behavior) as mothers consciously or unconsciously try to protect their authority over parenting.”
NFI recently conducted a survey called Mama Says of 1,533 moms (a sample more than 10 times the size of the OSU study) on their attitudes about fathering. A couple findings from that survey are relevant here:
- 84% of moms recognize that mothers and fathers parent in different ways.
- 93% of moms think mothers are more nurturing than fathers
- 66% of moms think they’d be able to balance work and family better if they had more support from the father.
Kids need both their parents to be involved in all aspects of their lives. How mom and dad divide parenting responsibilities will vary from family to family, but if both parents can be mutually supportive of each other, everyone wins – especially the kids.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
- Father’s BMI is predictive of son’s and daughter’s BMI
- BMI in sons and daughters is consistently higher when fathers are overweight or obese
- Obesity of fathers is associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of obesity of sons and daughters at age 18