How not to write about dads

An old-fashioned typewriter.

As a blogger, I’m always on the lookout for things to write about – particularly now I’m a freelancer too – so I’m subscribed to a number of emails about topics related to parenting and, in particular, the role of dads. It was no surprise then that the subject line of the latest email update from The Huff Post caught my eye. “You know you’re a dad when…” it said. I was disappointed when I clicked through, however, and found that the article didn’t portray dads in the way I hoped it would.

It’s funny in places and tries to be on dads’ side and there are parts of it that have a nucleus of truth but, on the whole, I found it to achieve the opposite. It’s patronising, paints us as feckless and two-dimensional and then damns us with faint praise at the end. I’ll give you a few examples:

“Instead of checking out the woman walking past, you are checking out her buggy and comparing it to yours.”

So, until we become fathers, we’re only capable of perving on women when we see them? Wow, I’m even more glad I became a dad then. Otherwise I would have put Kleenex out of business by now.

“You are afraid to say you are tired. At least in the presence of your wife. Because as soon as those words come out of your mouth may God help you. You might as well spend the next half an hour with ear plugs in to avoid listening to the definition of tired.”

This one doesn’t do either gender any favours – apparently we’re so weak of mind that we daren’t be honest with our partners who, it seems, are to be perceived as little more than tyrannical ratbags.

“You are very speed aware. You actually comply with the speed limit, at least when you have the kids in the car.”

Now I don’t drive, but I can guarantee you that, if I did, I would respect the speed limits that exist to prevent accidents. According to this article though, we’re irresponsible until we become dads and may still try to literally pull a fast one if we’re out on our own. Come on…

It turns out that the article wasn’t even written by a dad – it’s by a mum – so can only be based on assumptions of what goes through our minds. How can anyone other than a dad properly tell you how parenthood changes us? I wouldn’t dare write about how being a mum can change women in the way that this article has. It’s sexist and I’d rightly come in for immense criticism.

So why is it okay for the situation to be reversed? As I mentioned before, this article is attempting to be favourable but has failed to use the right tone and seems to have a fairly bleak view of men before they become dads. Sure, having children does change us for the better – as it does for any parent – but that doesn’t mean we start life as irresponsible, weak-minded perverts!

I’m disappointed to see it on such a well-read website. Particularly when it’s one of the few that has ‘parents’ rather than ‘mums’ in the name. Come on, people, we can do better than this!

9 Comments
  • Jonathan
    July 28, 2015

    I share your sense of frustration about this type of coverage. It’s sexism, pure and simple. It also seems to put all dads in the same box using highly dated stereotypes.

  • ANewDad
    July 28, 2015

    I disagree. It’s not even that funny!

  • Simon
    July 30, 2015

    Yikes. I thought this type of veiled daddy bashing blog post had dissappeared.

  • Pen
    July 31, 2015

    I am a Mum, but I totally agree with you. You are being stereotyped and it is sexist. You have a right to be annoyed and angry. I would be too. Keep ranting!

  • Verily Victoria Vocalises
    July 31, 2015

    I totally agree with you! What a shame that they felt the need to portray dads like this 🙁 A great post and thank you for linking to #PoCoLo.

  • @SarahAnneDG
    August 1, 2015

    Urgh, well this is depressing. And patronising, rude…I could go on. I don’t know who these men are that women like this write about. I can only imagine this is them airing their own grievances held about their own partners, because none of the fathers I know ever seem to fit these profiles.

  • Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
    August 1, 2015

    Articles that are trying to be funny are dime a dozen lately! If you really read them you cant see the punchline. This is where it is nice to be a blogger because you can write about how it really is and how you want it to be.

    #pocolo

  • Caleb
    August 4, 2015

    If she’d written about how “10 unconventional ways fatherhood changed my husband” it would’ve been chill. But generalizing all men in such a cliche and patronizing manner just doesn’t float well. It’s bad business to write generalizations off of anecdotal experience.

  • Adventures of a Novice Mum
    August 20, 2015

    Fab that you’ve responded to the article. It would be interesting if you write one about knowing one is mum when … and indeed knowing one is a dad when ….

    Please tag me @aNoviceMum if you do write them, i’d love to read it.

    Whilst I don’t agree it’s sexism as such, It definitely plays on stereotypical societal perceptions. I’m curious about the experience the writer brings to bear on their conclusions about knowing when you’re a dad. Shame that males / dads are painted in the way that you noted.

    I suppose even if a male wrote it, their points will not be applicable to all dads.

    Even then, we definitely need more positive stories about the role and value of dads in families and the society. It’s vital for our children to see good role models. #PoCoLo

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