This post was authored by Chris Brown, NFI's Executive Vice President.
I’ve been involved in promoting involved, responsible, committed fatherhood for more than a decade in my role at NFI (and for several years prior to that with the Texas Department of State Health). Although I’ve seen a lot of movement in this country in general and among service providers specifically to recognize the indispensable role fathers play in raising healthy children, I am still amazed when I see evidence of how much more work we still have to do to help people realize that we must "call out" dads specifically rather than simply as part of the monolithic group of parents.
I am even more amazed when I see that some of the most well-known icons in our culture treat dads as second-class parents and, worse, incompetent parents as you might have read recently in this blog about the dad-bashing Huggies® commercials that were revised by the company only after backlash from dads and NFI. But I digress.
One of the most successful parenting programs in the world is called Triple-P Positive Parenting®. Developed by a group of researchers in Australia more than 30 years ago, the program has ample evidence that it helps parents to be, well, better parents. Based on this evidence, the program has expanded across the globe with offices in several countries that are dedicated to spreading the program in those domestic markets. Only recently, however, has the program been examined for separate affects on mothers and fathers, and this is where the story becomes interesting.
Researchers in Australia published a study in a recent edition of the American journal, Fathering, that found that Triple-P is—surprise, surprise—more effective with mothers than fathers. This study of nearly 5,000 parents who participated in the program found a large, positive effect on mothers’ parenting and a much smaller albeit positive effect on fathers’ parenting.
What struck me most, however, was the following finding: only 14 percent of the participating parents were fathers. The real problem here is not so much with the program or its impact—although I would certainly like to see it have the same degree of impact on fathers—it is with the lack of outreach and promotion to get fathers in the door. The Australian government spent more than $5 million to train facilitators in the program to, basically, train moms under the illusion that it would reach both sets of parents.
To be fair, the study found that even when the dad didn’t participate and the mom did, the program reduced the conflict between the couple which, no doubt, improved their parenting. And I have no doubt that the facilitators and the organizations they work for made some attempt to recruit dads into the program. But this is the same problem I see over and over again—a lack of commitment in our culture generally and among service providers specifically to call out dads as dads and not as parents.
Trust me when I say, “Parenting is a code word for ‘mothering.’” Until recently, Parenting magazine's tagline was “What Matters to Moms” (they changed the tagline but not the emphasis on moms). The New York Times parenting blog is called Motherlode.
One of the best ways to make this call to dads is with marketing strategies and materials designed specifically to reach fathers about programs specifically designed for fathers, such as NFI’s 24/7 Dad™ program. Simply making parenting programs “father-friendly” won’t do. I realize that statement might make some folks wriggle in their chair and, perhaps, stand up and shake their finger in disapproval. But also trust me when I say that based on nearly 20 years experience in helping organizations to make this call that it makes a huge difference in showing dads they matter as first-class parents, that they are competent parents.
Dads absolutely appreciate a program that addresses their unique needs because it makes them a better parent. Moreover, it helps service providers to recruit and retain fathers in programs specifically designed to help them be better dads, which, ultimately, helps us to achieve our ultimate goal of improving the lives of children.
Isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Monday, March 26, 2012
This post was authored by Chris Brown, NFI's Executive Vice President.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
I was doing some browsing on the Web when I came across a blog entry from Dr. David Katz, founder of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. The entry focused on the fact that men, especially fathers, need to turn a deeper focus on health and weight control. At NFI, we’ve made several references to the importance of health in men throughout our variety of resources and content. However, the doctor’s blog featured a few sentences that made me question just how thickheaded are men about getting healthy.
“We know that women are the guardians of the family health. We know that women, wives, mothers tend to do the heavy lifting when it comes to medical care, preventive services and diet,” said Dr. Katz in his blog, no doubt sharing a sentiment long shared by many. However, I grew up around men like my grandfathers and uncles who were always on top of their health. I’m particularly worrisome about my own health for a variety of reasons, some of which are hereditary.
Much like the meme going around that fathers are clueless when it comes to caring for their babies, a lot of archaic notions about men continue to be perpetuated. I became especially aware of my health needs after becoming a father. In fact, my peers who became dads all followed suit. How some of us arrived to that point was actually simple: taking care of children is taxing! I remember feeling like everything was hurting while running after my toddler, saying to my doctor that I needed to feel whole again.
I do get Dr. Katz’s overall point. As a father of five children and the editor-in-chief of the medical journal Childhood Obesity, he has an obligation to preach to the masses the importance of health. His blog was more so a call to fathers to set better examples for their children. I truly enjoyed his stance on saying that men who find working out and eating better to be feminine traits are acting “un-guy like” – slamming the notion that men can eat and do whatever they want without repercussions.
Dr. Katz is simply urging dads to eat better so their kids will too. The rapid rise in stroke risks in children between the ages of 5 and 14 attributed to obesity is unacceptable. The old adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” certainly applies in this case. Good health has to start somewhere, and fathers have a responsibility to lead by example.
I may not have been exposed to many men or fathers who were reluctant about staying healthy, but I do know we can all do better in providing a pathway to healthier living for our children by starting with ourselves.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Reality television is literally like a train wreck. On some shows, one can witness the worst in human behavior, yet people still watch faithfully. There have even been “viewing parties” held during some of the more popular programs, a fact that still baffles me to this day.
One such program I had the displeasure of watching was controversial TLC show “Toddlers & Tiaras,” which profiles child beauty pageant contestants and their families. Already in its fifth season since premiering in 2009, the show is popular for all the wrong reasons.
The mothers of the young pageant contestants all push their girls, some young as two, to emotional and physical limits. They parade the little girls around in makeup, big hairdos, and even bathing suits. In the few times I’ve watched the show, I’ve never seen a father be involved in the shenanigans. As a father of a daughter, it troubles me to see little girls be put through the rigors of a pageant. I wondered often if the fathers are in the lives of the girls and how they felt about seeing their child in that light.
Perhaps I have a narrow male perspective but there is something limiting in this preemie beauty pageant nonsense that suggests the only goals these mothers have for their little girls is a life of preening and primping. I don’t see how a beauty pageant, especially at such young ages, promotes anything other than vanity. I would be appalled to watch the mother of my child force her to do something that adds such little value to her life.
I’m not alone in this thinking, as recent news suggests that the trend of child pageants teeters close to indecency. In France, lawmakers have banned child beauty pageants; this after a 10-year old girl was featured on the cover of Vogue Paris in attire not fit for a child. I don’t know if such a ban could happen here but I’m taking a stand for fathers who would rather see other ideals promoted in their little girls. Beauty and fashion are fine things to aspire towards, but what message does this ultimately send?
Just this week, the father of JonBenet Ramsey, the murdered beauty pageant contestant, came forward this week and called the Toddlers & Tiaras show “bizzare” although he allowed his child to participate. Reading his story, John Ramsey showed serious regret in letting his daughter enter the contests. I am in no way suggesting that JonBenet’s participation in these events led to her passing. Instead, I am glad to see one father finally speak up against the practice.
I happen to think my daughter is beautiful and worthy of being a supermodel should she choose that life as she gets older. For now, she has a lot of growing up to do and I’m in no rush to speed her down that path. Fathers, it’s ok to speak up for your little girls in cases like this. We have to protect our princesses any way we can.
Last night, Justin, my 26 year old son and I were having a conversation about how father absence is affecting his generation. He told me that many of his friends who grew up without fathers are very committed to being good dads. However, he offered that they don’t know how to be good fathers. He said that they have “zeal without knowledge.”
Zeal is an old English word that you don’t hear often these days, especially from a 26 year old. But, it’s a concept that is very contemporary because it means to have an intensity for a cause, an eager desire and enthusiastic diligence. Alas, there is zeal aplenty in our culture today, so having a bit of it for fatherhood is certainly a good thing. That said, I think that my son was on to something by linking zeal with knowledge. Here’s why…
Early in the week, I spoke at an event and when I finished a guy about Justin’s age approached me. He told me that he had grown up without a father and he recently had gotten married and was going to be a father soon. He then got a very strange look on this face and said, “Everyone keeps telling me that I am going to be a great dad and I really want to be…But, honestly, I’m struggling with how they can know this or how I can do this… I never had a dad.”
He had zeal without knowledge…
So, I sent him an email with links to several of NFI’s low cost products for new dads like, “When Duct Tape Won’t Work”, an interactive CD designed to improve his understanding of how to help his infant through the toddler years, and “24/7 Dad Interactive”, an interactive CD designed to help him with everything a good dad needs to know, from maintaining a strong relationship with mom to effectively disciplining his children.
I was delighted that this new dad-to-be had the wherewithal to understand his problem and proactively seek help. But, frankly, I am amazed at how many dads, especially ones older than this father, will spend $50 bucks or more to watch a pay-for-view sporting event but won’t invest less than $20 for resources, like the ones that I mentioned above, to help themselves become better dads. And, some dads who will spend hours researching and drafting the perfect fantasy football roster—as if it was “real”—but would consider it a fantasy to join a small group of other dads for just an hour a week for 6 weeks and use the "24/7 Dad Power Hour" to hone their fathering skills. Of course, these fathers say that they want to be good dads. But, discipline, not just desire, determines a dad's destiny. Indeed, they have zeal but they lack the discipline to get the knowledge.
And, that’s a real problem. Let me give you an example to better illustrate this point.
A few weeks ago, a movie called “Act of Valor,” which featured the heroics of real Navy Seals, hit movie theaters nationwide. The film was an instant box office hit. In fact, it was the top grossing movie during the opening weekend and continues to do well. No doubt, thousands of dads lined up to see the film. And, I can see why. Here you have a bunch of guys, many who are fathers, doing amazing things that make us proud to be Americans. Plus, lots of stuff gets blown up!
However, here’s the interesting thing about the Navy Seals in this movie. They have zeal…lots of it. But, they also have knowledge. Why? Because a Navy Seal without both is dangerous. He’s the type of guy on the mission who would kick a door in, guns blazing, and shoot the hostages and rescue the terrorist! In fact, others in his unit can’t count on him to have their backs. So, no one wants this guy on their team. It’s too risky. They would just as soon do the mission one man short.
So, am I saying the untrained dads are dangerous? Of course not. But, I am saying that these dads are less effective and are not prepared for the most important “mission” of their lives--raising their children. This is unacceptable. But, it is also fixable because a guy can learn to be a better dad. Accordingly, if you are a dad with zeal, like that young unprepared dad that I spoke to, I want to encourage you to do as he did. Zealously seek knowledge. Get the resources and training that you need to be the best dad that you can be. After all, being a good dad is the ultimate act of valor.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
In The Godfather: Part II, Michael Corleone says, "I hope they will have the decency to clear my name with the same publicity with which they now have besmirched it."
In the spirit of those wise words, I am blogging today to follow up on a recent post I did about a Huggies ad campaign.
On March 1, I blogged about a dad-unfriendly ad campaign from the diaper giant. In that post, I accused Huggies of playing into stereotypes about fathers being less competent parents than moms, especially when it comes to changing diapers and caring for babies. We asked you, our readers, to let Huggies know what you thought about their ad, and you did, voicing your concerns on Huggies' Facebook page.
At the time, I had no idea my blog post was part of a "movement" of daddy bloggers all over the country saying similar things, and inspiring many others to speak out, too.
There was so much noise being made about this that Headline News contacted me on Saturday to do a live interview on their network about my blog post and about the response from the community of dads. You can watch the HLN interview here.
To add to the providential timing of all of this, I happened to be in Austin, TX over the weekend for a brand new conference called the Dad 2.0 Summit, where the very community that called Huggies out had gathered to talk about strengthening the online community of dads and strategizing on how dads and brands can work together for mutual benefit.
This was a "perfect storm" that may indeed be a watershed moment in the "fatherhood movement" (for lack of a better term). For years, various other communities have coalesced to the point that if a brand "messes with them," they will make a big stink and force that brand to change its tune. Moms, for example, have done a great job of this, and are rightly recognized as a market force to be reckoned with. But this Huggies incident could mark the first time that the community of dads forced a major brand to change its course.
Huggies, to their great credit, did a couple of positive things. First, they pulled one ad in the series off the air immediately. Second, they are working to change the voice overs in the other ads to make them less condescending. Third, they changed the copy on their Facebook page from "put our diapers to the ultimate test... dad" to "Have dad put Huggies to the test." Fourth, Huggies sent several staff, including executives, to the above mentioned Dad 2.0 Summit to sit down with dads one-on-one (myself included) to hear our concerns and explain what they are doing to make amends.
This Huffington Post article summarizes how this whole thing played out.
So, what's next?
Huggies has a great opportunity to really separate itself from the pack by capitalizing on the mistake it made and the subsequent steps they have taken to fix it. Huggies is smack in the middle of the radar screen of the dad community right now, so if they do things right, they can really establish themselves as a brand that cares about and responds to fathers.
We at National Fatherhood Initiative stand ready to afford brands the opportunity to do this in a big, national way.
For you, take a moment to head over to Huggies' Facebook page and thank them for responding to dads' concerns and changing course. Continue to hold them accountable. But don't tell them Michael Corleone told you to do this...
Let's not forget what happened here. We dads were able to accomplish something that every significant social movement has been able to accomplish. Let's keep it up!
Monday, March 12, 2012
National Fatherhood Initiative recently launched March Dadness: Tips for Coach Dad on Leading Your Team to Victory, inspired, of course, by the March Madness NCAA tournament. Here at the NFI office, we'll be turning in our brackets for the office pool. At home, my dad and three brothers are finalizing their brackets. I asked my dad (father of seven) to share some fathering perspectives on this annual event. Here's his thoughts...
March Madness is one of our favorite times of the sports year because it affords three weeks of friendly competition between my three sons and I. We're a basketball family - all my kids play it, I coach it, and we follow it on ESPN. From the Jeremy Lin sensation to Duke's buzzer beater over North Carolina to sitting in the stands watching my ten-year-old twin daughters compete on Saturday afternoons, to say we like basketball would be an understatement. This March, like every other March, we'll be filling out brackets and tracking teams en route to the Final Four and National Championship.
As a dad, I've found this to be one of the ways to connect with my kids in a friendly, competitive environment. This works for both the teenagers still at home and those who are far from home - my 23-year-old son serving in the Air Force in Utah emails his bracket to us and calls home to join the pre- and post-game commentary. My sons are pretty competitive when it comes to researching teams as they fill out their bracket. The Monday morning USA Today newspaper with the full section on March Madness is passed around among the boys. My daughters, on the other hand, are more interested in watching the teams they like than in the bracket competition and will join their brothers around the TV at game time. (My 18-year-old daughter, however, did secretly make her own bracket last year.)
The lesson I've learned through this is that opportunities to have positive experiences with my kids, instead of always being in the mode of correcting attitudes and behavior, are valuable. Finding common interests and spending time together is important to building relationships, communicating love and value, and balancing the times when discipline and correction are required as a parent. It doesn't have to be basketball to successfully build an enjoyable experience between father and sons and daughters, but events that can be looked forward to and reoccur on a periodic basis (like March Madness) become a lifelong memory and something that both dads and kids can anticipate.
Dads, if you want to institute a family March Madness competition with your kids, download a bracket here. Sign-up for the Dad E-mail to get our latest March Dadness updates!
Friday, March 9, 2012
Once a man takes on the important task of becoming a father, it suddenly stops being just about his life from that moment. You are now responsible for an entire person, even as they grow from infancy into adulthood. When a father is involved, responsible and committed, the bond established with your child is unbreakable. Sometimes in times of danger or emergency, a father’s automatic instinct is to protect. Most fathers I know who have good relationships with their children all share this innate trait.
The story of Erik Chappell, the Michigan attorney who leapt into action to save his two boys after a car bomb attack, inspired me to recall other tales of fathers who became knights in shining armor for their children.
In 2010, David Anderson and his daughter Bridget, just two at the time, and their scare in New York was an example of a father thinking of nothing more than saving his child. His little girl fell into a cold East River after which a brave Frenchman and Anderson dove into the water to rescue the toddler.
Joe Gutierrez proved his heroic mettle after rescuing three babies from a burning fire in Texas last month. Treating his actions like another day in the office, Gutierrez responded coolly, “I’m a regular guy. I’m not a hero, I’m a father. That’s what fathers do.”
Although I didn’t leap into freezing waters or burning buildings, I received a call today from my daughter while she was at school. Calling from the nurse’s office, I could tell something was amiss with her. I immediately stood up, and began walking towards the door to leave, not even regarding that I had a lot more work to do for the day. Whenever I hear my child in despair, she’s no longer the tiny little person of 11 years ago. I harken back to holding her just out the womb. I don’t see a tweener, I just see my baby.
Even now when she coughs too loud or says ouch, I get right up to see what the situation is. I’ve been told by dads of older girls that eventually, she’ll tire of my doting ways and will want some independence. I know I can’t always don a cape and take care of her problems, but I can’t imagine being any other way for the rest of my life. I hope and pray that my daughter will always know that while I can’t fix everything, I’ll do anything I can in my power to give her the best and safest life.
Like Mr. Gutierrez said, that's what fathers do.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
It was just a month ago when a entire nation was shocked to witness a gun-toting, cowboy hat-wearing Tommy Jordan unload nine shots from a handgun into his daughter’s laptop. The aftermath of the event led to visits from Child Protect Services and the Department of Social Services, online commentators calling Jordan everything but a child of God, and a surprisingly high number of supporters.
Clearly remorseful but still staunch in his reasons for his actions, Mr. Jordan and his family have rallied around each other despite many thinking their situation was much more explosive than it was. I dare say the Jordan family may be a tighter unit than any of us could have ever expected.
Jordan, his daughter Hannah Marie and his wife, Amy, all appeared on NBC morning program TODAY show with host Matt Lauer. When Lauer asked Hannah her feelings about her dad’s actions, she clearly has processed the moment far quicker than America has. “We went our separate ways for a while, but we were able to laugh about it afterwards,” she said to Lauer. Hannah did say her father overreacted but that she ultimately accepted his actions.
Jordan’s wife, a doctor, also supports her husband’s actions and apparently gave Tommy the green light to destroy their daughter’s laptop. “People may look at the video that don't know him or us and think we're just completely uneducated country people. That’s not the case. He’s very intelligent, very thoughtful. He rarely does anything without thinking it through or even consulting me on a lot of occasions. This wasn't any different,” she shared.
On air, Tommy Jordan admitted to his mistakes which he and his wife said was inspired by his daughter’s initial mistake. Both mom and dad’s overall point: watch what you say online because it can come back to haunt you. “Don't post anything on the web you don't want the entire world to see. That was why we were upset with her in the first place and all of this has driven the point home,” said Mrs. Jordan.
Another moment that folks should notice was that of Mr. Jordan revealing he did indeed save Hannah’s hard drive from the same fate her laptop suffered. He looked his daughter in the eye and told her point blank that when she’s allowed to have a computer again, she can access her old files.
Like any other family, the Jordans aren’t perfect by any means. Tommy Jordan realizes that his shoot-em-up stunt has made for weighty consequences for he and his family. But together, it seems like they’re working it out just fine. Perhaps it’s time to let this story rest and allow a family to heal and find their path to redemption all on their own.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
This is a post from Michael Yudt, NFI's Director of Program Support Services.
My third son, Nathanael Wayne, was born on February 18th at 8:25am. When my wife (Kelly) and I went to bed on Friday, February 17th, I was thinking we would awake the next morning just like we do on a typical Saturday. However, this was no typical Saturday.
Apparently, Kelly tried to wake me up a couple times at night to let me know she was having contractions. I have no recollection of that whatsoever… I eventually woke up around 4am and had this feeling that I was not going back to sleep. I noticed that I was alone in bed and figured that Kelly must have made her way to the couch, which is typical for her during the last trimester (she finds the couch to be more comfortable).
With my mind racing about a number of things, I made my way close to where I thought Kelly was sleeping to find her wide awake and having contractions. It became clear pretty quickly that this was the “real deal.” As a father and husband, I knew my job at that point was to “spring into action” (a favorite phrase of my near-4-year-old son, Caleb)
Our youngest son at the time (Joshua, nearly 2) is an early riser and this day was no exception. He was awake shortly after 5am and with the excitement of the day we knew he was up for good. When Kelly’s parents arrived at our house, we finished getting everything together, said our goodbyes, and headed for the hospital. Before leaving, I told our oldest son, Caleb, “Today is the day the baby is going to be born.” He responded with a sense of great joy in his voice: “That’s right, today is the day!” Excitement was welling up inside of me knowing that this was the day we would hold our newborn baby.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I knew that Kelly was disappointed when we were taken to the triage room, instead of the labor and delivery room. It’s rather funny, but the unspoken truth at the time was we both were hoping for an even faster labor than the rather quick one we had with Joshua (4 hours). With Kelly looking at the clock, I knew she wanted the baby to be born before 8:30am and she got her wish. Arriving at 8:25am, Nathanael Wayne was 8 lbs 7 oz and 20 ½ inches long. However, that’s not what defined him at that moment. When Nathanael first appeared, my wife and I shared his name with the medical staff that were present. Kristin, one of the nurses, didn’t miss a beat in sharing her knowledge of the name when she remarked that Nathanael means “gift of God.” Indeed, that’s exactly what he is and will always be!
As fathers, our job is to cherish each of our children as a precious gift. And that doesn’t end after the emotional high of the child’s birth. That is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week role that lasts a lifetime. I wonder how our world would be different if we had more fathers that viewed and treated each of their children as a gift from God. Nathanael, just like my other sons, was a gift the day he was born, is a gift the day I am writing this, the day you are reading this, and he will always be a gift - each and every day of his life. My encouragement and challenge to all fathers is to look at each of your children regardless of how old they are (yes, even adult children) with the same sparkle that you did the day they were born. After all, every child needs and wants unconditional love from their father. And that is a gift that we can give our children that is truly priceless…
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Before I joined NFI’s staff, I never heard of the term "father absence," but I was most certainly a product of it.
Raised by a single, African-American mother in a tough neighborhood, I had to navigate the dangers of my environment and still be a well-behaved student. My mother worked late five days a week, and I was left alone often. Naturally, I modeled my behavior after the tough guys in the neighborhood, carrying that attitude into school. I was in trouble frequently for insubordination and not following instructions. Mom attributed much of my actions to my father not being around to help guide me.
A national survey conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) points to a glaring gap between the discipline students of color faced compared to their white counterparts. The numbers showed that while the collected data counted for just 18 percent of African-American students, Black males were shown to have nearly twice as many suspensions and even higher numbers for expulsion.
According to recent reports compiled using Census data and other sources, it was found that last year just 33 percent of Black children lived in a two-parent household compared to 85 percent of Asian children, 75 percent of White children and 60 percent of Hispanic children. Nearly all children living in single-parent homes lived with their mothers, with over half of those being Black children.
While the OCR survey is said to be expanding its research categories in the ongoing survey, it hasn’t been said to include data regarding the number of parents in the home. Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed reporters in an open call on Monday ahead of the release of the data, asserting that the numbers are not directly a result of discrimination. Educators, obviously invested in what the data means ultimately, wisely noted that race, poverty and struggling school districts plays a part in what’s happening.
I scoured a lot of text while writing this blog entry, and not one person mentioned the family structure, at least in my searches. There is nothing said on whether these students of color are in two-parent homes or not. According to research, children from father-absent homes are more like to have behavioral problems. Why are commentators ignoring this reality?
In my own experiences, not having my father present in the home directly impacted how I behaved when I was not under my mother’s care. I’m not a statistician or researcher, but other numbers mesh with this report. 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers, with two out of three Black children and one of three Hispanic children dealing with father absence.
That alone points to something I’d like to see the OCR address in their further collection of data. While it’s not the Department of Education’s aim to offer a counter to the problem of father absence, I’m a living example of how the issue of academic failure could also be attributed to growing up in an unbalanced home environment.
Regardless of race and other societal factors, you can’t always expect well-behaved children in the face of father absence. In fact, the more the gap widens between fathers and children, the more we can expect numbers like this to spike even higher, and that’s truly a shame.
Monday, March 5, 2012
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Friday, March 2, 2012
R&B singer Chris Brown burst onto the scene in the fall of 2005, and like the rest of America, I enjoyed his energetic dance moves and singing. Just 16 at the time, he was a fresh face poised for stardom. I knew some people personally at his label, and I rooted for his success.
His first two albums were full of puppy love talk, ballads, and up-tempo songs that captured his talent. In February 2009, however, my perception of Brown’s music and personality changed after the violent domestic dispute between he and ex-girlfriend Rihanna. Then 19, Brown assaulted the beloved pop singer after attending a party together earlier that evening. Naturally, Brown caught the wrath of both the media and his fans. The images of Rihanna’s swollen face still haunt me.
At the time, Chris Brown’s biological father, Clinton, defended his son, saying his son was remorseful. Chris didn’t grow up with his biological dad as his parents split when he was young. His mother, Joyce, remarried and Donelle Hawkins became his stepfather. In 2007, Chris revealed that his stepdad would beat his mother and that the situation filled him with rage, saying he even plotted to harm him. Although Hawkins denied striking Brown’s mother, he did confirm that it was a tense relationship.
It’s no stretch to see that Chris Brown modeled behavior he grew up seeing. He wasn’t given an opportunity to witness a man treat his wife with respect and honor. His violent reaction to Rihanna was reportedly sparked by an accusation of Chris sneaking around with other women, leading to the fight. It was nearly the same pattern of events he would have to endure between his mother and stepfather. Instead of learning to resolve conflicts sensibly, Brown’s propensity to fly off the handle continues to this day.
Brown has since gone into the gutter with his lyrical content. Moonlighting as a foul-mouthed rapper and morphing into a sex-crazed singer, he has lost all of the innocence in his music that once defined him. Another evolution of Brown’s character is his caustic online persona. Gone is the man who was subdued and reflective after his appearance on the Larry King show months after the 2009 incident. On his popular Twitter account, Brown is often profane and pushed into rage easily once anyone mentions his violent past.
Rihanna and Chris Brown are reportedly together again; with some saying they never split officially. Disappointing fans and opponents of domestic violence, they have also recorded new music together that’s unfit for young ears. Rihanna herself lived with an abusive father in her native Barbados, who she has since forgiven. To his credit Brown has tried to address the issue but while he begins with his heart in the right place, he is easily moved to anger. Even entertainers on Twitter have pushed Brown to the edge and even challenging him to fights.
Had Chris Brown been closer to his dad, a corrections officer, would he have received better guidance? Is it possible that Brown still needs a father figure or a mentor that can steer him away from this downward spiral? In other words, Chris Brown has a lot of growing up to do and may need a guiding hand along the way.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I have to take a deep breath when I write blog posts like this.
While more and more advertisers are starting to realize that dads are competent parents that make or share in family purchasing decisions, there are still far too many stragglers that continue to play the “dads are dumb” line over and over again.
Huggies, the huge diaper brand, is one of the worst offenders. Their most recent ad campaign may take the cake for advertising that is condescending to dads and out of touch with reality. Watch the ad here.
The imagery in the ad is great – dads taking care of their babies. We need to see more of that. But it’s the voice over and premise of the ad where the problem is: “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads… alone with their babies….”
What this reminds me of are the Geico commercials with the caveman. Remember those: “So easy a caveman can do it.” These Huggies ads send the same message: our diapers are so easy to use that even a dad can’t mess this up.
Congrats, dads! You are in the same camp as cavemen! The problem of course is that cavemen don’t exist anymore, but dads do!
Compare the Huggies ads to ones where products have to pass the “mom test” and you will find that those are handled in the opposite way. To pass the mom test, a product has to prove that it lives up to the high standards that moms demand. Like the old Kix cereal commerial, whose tagline was, “Kid tested, mom approved.” But the Huggies ads take the opposite tack; the product has to be tested by dads so that it survives the low standards that dads set.
If you are not yet convinced that these ads send a terrible message about fatherhood, or that these ads are harmless and mean to be “funny,” think of it another way. There is a stereotype out there that women are worse drivers than men. So imagine a car commercial that says, “We are putting our new car to the ultimate test – giving it to a woman for 5 days to see if it survives!” The outcry would be justifiably enormous…
I have to wonder who in the heck Huggies is testing these messages on or what research they are looking at that shows that these sorts of insulting messages to dads are still acceptable. The reality is that dads are changing diapers, caring for babies, and being involved dads. And where they are not, we need to be encouraging them to do so because it is what kids and families need.
Huggies’ ad plays to old stereotypes and ultimately discourages involved fatherhood by playing up the idea that dads just aren’t as good at parenting as moms are. At a minimum, I imagine this ad is discouraging dads from buying Huggies – there appears to be quite an uproar about it online.
What do you think of the commercial? Click here to view it and make a statement. If Huggies is in fact committing a “violation” here, they need to hear from you so that things can change for the better.