Earlier this week on my Facebook page I put up a link to a post which originally appeared on The Daddy Files. Here’s a link (It’s Time To Stop Treating Dads Like Idiots) but basically it was about Aaron, the blogger, getting upset because he found a this shirt is daddy proof baby outfit with instructions about which hole the arms go in. He thinks dads are given a poor showing in commercials and television and this baby outfit represents yet another straw set to break the camel’s back.
Whereas I think the outfit is funny and would have sat proudly next to the sleep eat poop repeat and I’m proof my mummy puts out ones back when we had a baby-sized baby to clothe. And I should like to point out that the I’m proof my mummy puts out onesie does not mean my wife is a slut.
Not that you thought that for a second. And that’s kind of my point.
Thing is, I’ve noticed an increased number of comments on this blog, and especially my Facebook page, saying exactly the point Aaron does – the stereotypical dad is made out to be stupid and incompetent.
Guys. Guys. Guys. If a wife is silly enough to really think her husband can’t change a nappy or make a bottle then this is his get out of jail free card. Don’t ruin it for everyone else by giving the game away. That’s selfish.
And ladies, if you really think your husband is doing it wrong – I don’t know, maybe he’s adding a drop of vanilla essence to the bottle – then try to remember, not all mothers do it exactly the same either.
But that being said, I just can’t see what the worry is with dad jokes on baby clothes or even just in general.
Yes, I dislike it when dads are made one dimensional in tv shows and that one dimension is pure dumb. One of my least favourite shows when my eldest daughter was growing up was Lizzie Mcguire precisely because the father was made out to be an idiot (Hanna Montana, on the other hand, has a rocking dad). But then I dislike any tv character who isn’t well put together.
The Phil Dunphy character from Modern Family is one which might easily have fallen into this category. He’s an idiot, yes, but there’s more to him. He’s not just an idiot. He’s also a loving husband and a good dad with his heart in the right place. So it works.
And I see a lot of myself in Phil, not least because he bumbles about with good intentions and he’s batting well above his weight.
Another gloriously dumb tv dad I associate with is Tim ‘the toolman’ Taylor from the 90’s Home Improvement, because firstly, when Tim’s got tools in his hands he’s dangerous, and secondly, he appears to have embarked on his parenting journey without much of an idea about how this parenting thing works. Still, although he refuses to look at the parenting instruction manual (like any of us need one of those), when the lights settle on yet another episode he seems a little wiser, a little better at being a dad.
And that kind of reminds me a little bit of me too.
As for the ‘dads do it differently’ argument: Well, yes, we would. I mean, we can’t produce milk from our boobies, even those less fortunate of us blokes who have boobies. But aside from that, I’m pretty sure I remove sticky poo from baby’s butts with a very similarly screwed up face to my wife’s, I’m pretty sure I stomp through the house with just as much frustration to attend a crying baby when it’s 2am and I’m pretty sure neither of us can see any sense in mother nature making teething such an awful process when she can push hair and nails out of our bodies without a hint of pain.
I’m also pretty sure I get the same sort of joy from interacting with my children.
The main difference is I go to work at the bank five days a week and she stays home and runs the home. Except on weekends when she goes to work as a photographer and I stay home and run the home.
Anyway, I just couldn’t let this whole debate go without making some sort of a comment about how I really hope we don’t take this too far down the politically correct path – especially as a good sized portion of my blog seems to be me playing catch-up with life, including my role as a dad. I love laughing at myself. And I love laughing at stereotypes. It doesn’t make me a bad person. I laugh at the Wolowitz character on The Big Bang Theory but I’m not disrespectful to nerds without doctorates, over-mothered members of the Jewish community or skinny guys in loud pants. Similarly, I don’t think waitresses are dumb based on the Penny character. This is where I wonder if people are getting a little lost in this issue, because laughing at a stereotype doesn’t change my opinions of the people I come across in the real world.
Do I see the point Aaron’s making? Yes. Do I agree with him? Not so much.
I’m a dad sticking my neck out and saying I like the odd dumb dad dig. In fact, I want more of them. I want more slogans on shirts and I want them in my house.
This despite acknowledging, in my role as a father, I make dumb mistakes sometimes. I think, if we’re all honest, I’m in good company and if anything it’s probably a bit crowded over here.
And really, isn’t the best way of dealing with our parenting mistakes and foibles to laugh at them?
…and then to get our clever wives to do them properly.
What’s your take on this issue? Are dumb dad jokes and shirts inappropriate? Should we make dumb mum jokes to even things out? By laughing at dumb dad jokes do we run the risk of genuinely dumb dads slipping through the net?
Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ’BIG FAMILY little income’ Facebook Page.
’raising a family on little more than laughs’