Last week, Caleb Gardner wrote an excellent post entitled Dad Bloggers Deserve Respect. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so, especially if you blog from a fatherly perspective.
In a nutshell, Gardner’s message is as follows: Cyber moms are a force as evidenced by the corporate courting they receive. The rapidly growing community of cyber dads deserves that same treatment, yet fails to receive it thanks to a real-world phenomenon Gardner calls “Being Daddy in a World of Mommies”—the commonly held notion that Daddy is nothing more than Mommy’s goofy and permanent apprentice.
The end result leaves dad bloggers in the awkward position of “fighting for a seat at the parenting table.” According to Gardner, that seat will be earned when “brands…acknowledge that dads have a role to play in the lives of their kids.”
Throughout his post, Gardner’s thread of logic makes alternate stitches—one in the real world, followed by one in the virtual world, as if attempting to sew the two together as one. But in my opinion, they’re not one. They’re related to be sure, but they’re ultimately different and deserve to be treated as such. So let me first address my opinion of Gardner’s take on the real world, namely that dads are viewed as second-class parents.
He’s dead on.
But what he fails to mention is that it’s our own fault. Dads have insisted on taking a parenting backseat to moms since the beginning of time. It’s only just now starting to change. So when Gardner references the “quiet condescension” he senses (presumably from moms) whenever he and his son spend an afternoon together without his wife, I understand what he’s talking about. Yet, if we want to change the perception that our own gender created, shouldn’t we spend more time parenting and less time trying to interpret unstated sentiments from a random cross-section of women?
Hell, I have a hard enough time understanding them when they speak in plain English, let alone when I’m left to extrapolate meaning from the blank looks on their faces. (Incidentally, if anyone can interpret unstated sentiments from a woman, email me immediately. That Lovie is one tough cookie…)
But, seriously, whenever I’m out with Pookie and the trips, I simply assume that anyone who’s paying attention to our dynamic sees me for what I am—an emotionally available, extremely involved, and thoroughly capable parent. And great parents should concern themselves with their children, not with myopic soccer moms armed with misguided notions that smack of reverse sexism. I ignore such simpletons because paying attention to them empowers them, not to mention undermines what I’m trying to do—namely, parent my children to the best of my ability. Besides, if we continually allow ourselves to feel slighted as parents, then we may never get out of the ditch that we put ourselves in.
So what about Gardner’s take on the cyber world, where, thanks to real-world disrespect, we find ourselves “fighting for a seat at the parenting table?” What about Gardner’s hope that corporate brands “acknowledge that dads have a role to play in the lives of their kids,” which would presumably translate to corporations courting us?
Maybe it’s just me, but if earning a seat at the parenting table means receiving free coffee cakes from Sara Lee in exchange for 500 favorable words, then I’m at the wrong establishment. When I joined the ranks of the daddy bloggers by starting my own blog this past November, it was initially to promote my book. But blogging quickly transcended that self-serving motive when I realized the strength of the incredible network of like-minded dads I had tapped into. Gardner’s thought-provoking post, as well as the insightful (and numerous) comments it generated, did nothing but bolster my already high opinion of our community and furthered the pride I feel for being a small part of it.
So I hope I don’t come off as disrespectful when I say that the very last thing I want for that community to become is a testicular version of mommy bloggers. “Testicular version of mommy bloggers.” Talk about an oxymoron—by merely typing those five words, I’m pretty sure I started lactating.
Lactation jokes aside, if the day ever comes when I care more about a year’s supply of non-dairy creamers from the friendly folks at Coffee-mate than I do about sharing my fatherly perspectives, I hope one of you will fly to Knoxville and punch me in the face. While I’m sleeping. I’ll pay for your flight.
It’s not that I have something against mommy bloggers–I don’t. In fact, I read many of them quite frequently. But they’re different from us, fellas. When will we learn that we’re not treated like them because we’re not like them? And, more importantly, when will we be okay with that?
Dad bloggers are a rapidly growing community, and thanks to many great sites like DadWagon, Dab-Blogs, DadLabs, and DadCentric, our voice is being heard. Our time is coming, but before it arrives, we have thousands of years of history to overcome in the real world, and over a decade to overcome in the virtual one. And little by little, we’re doing just that–overcoming history and changing perceptions with our emerging voice.
But we’ll impede that progress if we fall into the trap of parenting and blogging with an inferiority complex caused by a stereotype our own gender created. And we’ll never get anywhere by incessantly comparing ourselves to a demographic which is the complete opposite of ours. So let’s drop the insecure takes on who we aren’t and instead focus confidently on who we are—the new breed of badass dads who are soft enough to drink imaginary tea with a little girl while sitting in the tree-house we were man enough to build.
The respect we seek is coming. But once it arrives, I hope we don’t instantaneously become mom bloggers with facial hair. Because I like who we are. Don’t you?
Props to Caleb Gardner for his fantastic post which really made me think. I tip my cap to you, Caleb, as well as to the rest of you. You can resume being a fantastic fathers now. Godspeed.