Who’s a Dumb Dad?

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’



  • Here’s my thought. You enjoy the t-shirts and humor, so buy them! Aaron doesn’t like them, so he shouldn’t buy them. And each of you should write about why you are choosing to do what you do. 🙂 Then, I will agree with what you said, and I will also agree with what you said. I’m a fence sitter like that.

  • Now, who is the dumb dumb? It’s me, because I meant that I would agree with what YOU said and I would also agree with what HE said.

    • I understood what you said lol I agree with it too. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. And if you don’t like your partner telling you you’re doing it wrong, let her know. Simple. Just don’t mess with The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family 😉 Love those shows.

  • Good post, and thanks for the link.

    For what it’s worth, I love the funny baby shirts too. And I’m FAR from politically correct. That’s why my son had baby shirts that said “I Spent 9 Months in the Hole,” “Now That I’m Safe, I’m Pro-choice,” and “All Mommy Wanted Was a Backrub.” Those are really funny. And they’re funny without unnecessarily tearing anyone down or perpetuating a damaging stereotype.

    I get that people like you and me aren’t going to see that onesie and shape our opinions about dads on it. But the sad fact is many people do take their cues from TV, commercials, and the media. And until that changes, I think it’s important to find a way to shape that message in a more positive way. Like I said, it’s certainly not this onesie alone. This was the the cherry on the sundae that sent me over the edge.

    Thanks again and well said.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Aaron, and putting in your 2 cents worth. Enjoyed finding your post too 🙂

  • Before I became a mum I was a teacher.

    I still remember a mum coming in angry at her EX and complaining that her sons foot was broken. Yes the boy had had crutches for a week, dad had taken him to the doctors.

    She then gets the boys lunchbox out and sees a vegemite sanga, on white bread and freaks even more. WHen she was in charge it was salad on wholemeal.

    I took a deep breath and said ‘ mums and dads do things differently. Doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong’. I try to remember that with my kids and husband. My kids have a great relationship with his kids. We do need to give dads a break.

    • Nothing wrong with vegemite on white 🙂 Where kids are concerned I think we all need to cut each other (and ourselves) a break. Finding fault is so easy because all someone has to do is find something being done differently and we can declare it’s wrong. Especially true with ex’s.

  • Always love your attitude Bruce, and Aaron’s reply proves his is not too bad either. I love disparate ideals without contention. Keep up the good work.

  • My husband held the two year old up like a damp towel with a look of desperation because she had shat down the legs of her trousers and he didnt know what to do. He swung her over carpet and soft furnishings like it might somehow resolve itself. He desperately begged for help wailing “i dont know what to dooooo”.
    He is also a medical student. In a few years time he will be the same man who is qualified to remove your kidney.
    These onesies were designed for men like mine. In no way do they deflate the ego of a man who is at the end of the day a wonderful father and brilliant in his chosen field. If he could have a shirt to tell me he was better than me at driving, you can bet he would wear it. Would it be true? Meh… i prefer the passenger seat anyway.

    • I’ve had my wife saying ‘Help meeeeee’ as she’s run through the house with a crap covered baby held out in front of her. Hubby sounds perfectly normal to me 🙂 And smarts!! I think I’d trust him with my kidney.

  • I’m sooooooooooooooo tired of political correctness and people beating their chests and wailing “I’m so offended!” anytime they see something they don’t agree with. Whatever happened to having sense of humour? Sheesh.

    It took me years to figure out that my husband was just pretending to be incompetent at household chores just so he wouldn’t be asked to do them.

  • Oh Bruce i seriously love your blog and the way you look at things…..logical 🙂 After 3 babies i realised that daddy does his thing with the kids, which includes junk food, PJ’s in shopping centres (the kids that is), video games, silly conversations, and disciplinary back up to mummy, i do mummy things, healthy food, properly dressed, outside play, serious convos and disciplining (and yes that includes disipling daddy sometimes) But regardless on what we both do, it works for our family, our children are safe, and we try to keep our sense of humours, and that includes things like funny onsies, my hubby admits when it comes to babies, its not something hes ‘into’ in other words they confound him, lol, and thats cool cause i love that age, he however is awesome with 2/3 and up, which means i get a break, for us that compromising, lol.
    Jeez talk about off on a tangent, anyway to sum it up, the onsies, tv ads/show etc mean nothing to us but humour, because we understand the real deals, dads are different but not dumb 🙂

    • Oh, yeah, I don’t care how the kids look when I take them downtown. I don’t even notice 🙂 I see that as a good thing.

  • My baby was 7 months old before my husband learned how to mix a bottle of formula, even though the instructions are on the tin. Apparently he can’t read. Or chooses not to. Apparently he liked living in complete ignorance and make me do it. Until one day I was off for the evening and told him I didn’t have time to make the bottles up and left him the instructions on a piece of paper.

    His comment when I got home, “making bottles is pretty easy”. No sh*t Sherlock.

    Even now, two months later, he still tries to pull the, “there’s no bottles in the fridge” trick. And I can just tell him to make a damn bottle. To which he grizzles, because apparently it’s a hardship when your baby is cranky with hunger.

    And when it comes to being DUMB, it’s because he chooses to be. Not because he IS. Rather than finding out, he’d rather I just do it. Or tell him. And even when I do all that, I still get the same inane questions day after day. Because apparently he doesn’t like to remember things either.

    • Sounds to me like you are all over his little ploy, Jan. To quote the words of Mr T, “I pity the fool.” lol Good luck 🙂

  • I thought I’d read your counter-argument after I came across your comments on Aaron’s blog. I love that you are challenging articles by other bloggers and putting your ideas out there. I agree with you that there are great TV Dads out there. I think my husband is a bit of a Phil Dunphy type and I look forward to him doing fun, dorky things with our two little girls as they grow up. This stereotype I think is presented with love and humour, not degradation, as I believe the onesie is too.
    I think you and your wife must have an amazingly busy life with you both working at different times, and I applaud this team effort.
    Look forward to read more. Great work!

    • Thanks Elissa, we are busy, that’s for sure. But wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t necessarily think Aaron is wrong, I just don’t feel my blood boil about these things. Ever. Life’s too short and there are bigger issues which annoy me. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope to see your name pop up in the comments again soon 🙂

  • And to answer the actual questions you posted – I love things that are light-hearted and funny. Because parenting is some serious stuff sometimes, and we need all the light-hearted moments we can get in life.

    One of my favourites: “I only take responsibility for the first nine months….after that you were exposed to your father”.

  • I hear you. Everything’s so PC that we’re not even allowed to laugh at OURSELVES anymore. In saying that, I do think that society has a responsibility to stop portraying men as absolute buffoons when in a parenting role. You’re not. At the least, you’re loveable ones haha. Seriously, we need to show dads and future dads that it’s cool to know what you’re doing (even if we can laugh at the journey there). I don’t like the idea of perpetuating the idea that guys aren’t capable. Allows the less educated to remain so. Male parenting is evolving and changing all the time. We need to keep up and be supportive. I am a mum and I laugh at myself. Why can’t dads? In fact, why can’t mums find their ‘failures’ and learning curves funny too? I hate when my fellow mums lack a sense of humour. It kills me when i can’t crack a bad joke about my skills as a parent around an uptight mum. Maybe all parents need to lighten up.
    I love the show House Husbands in particular. It shows the trials and often funny tribulations of being a hands on dad, but it’s respectful too.
    I think that blogger perhaps got a little hot under the collar about the issue, but you both make excellent points.

  • I enjoy reading all this because I’m old and the kids left years ago and none of it matters! Lol, Yay! for freedom. he he he

  • What I really dislike is when mums are so focused on what their partner doesn’t do that they don’t see what the contributions and effort they make. That doesn’t mean that we should just be happy with what we get , but while I’ve got my cranky pants on because he just doesn’t seem to understand the concept f putting something away instead of the nearest counter, I also need to remember that he does get up to the kids most nights and a million other things that makes him a fabulous father.

    I hate political correctness gone mad too – jokes and funny onesies are great (although I don’t like all of them) but I think where we need more mindfulness is in the serious conversations we have

    • Dads do just fine when you walk out if the house count your kids when you walk in and they are all still there, then your man copes fine….. As to mummy humor on onesies, only if proclaims how sexy, clever beautiful and all other charming comments, otherwise very likely will be no putting out!
      I heard a saying it was, men are trucks and women are ferrari’s…..

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