When will the media ever get dads right?

A proud dad holding his newborn baby daughter.

In my eight years of writing this blog, I’ve published regular rants about the media’s representation of dads. And while I genuinely think that we’re in the early stages of a cultural shift in thinking, it’s agonisingly slow.

Two news stories about dads caught my eye this week. They were opposite viewpoints of something very similar – namely famous fathers spotted out and about with their babies – but both monumentally failed to get dads right.

The first, shared by Fran at Whinge Whinge Wine centred on new dad Declan Donnelly. Closer magazine heaped praise on him for, wait for it… successfully pushing a pram.

Yes, that’s right. According to the article, doing so was conclusive evidence that he’s a natural father. Man alive.

Now I don’t doubt that he’s a good dad. He seems like a nice bloke who cares about others. It follows logic that he’s likely to be an attentive parent.

But the magazine’s evidence for backing up its speculative claims was simply the act of pushing something on wheels.

This is insulting to both genders. It suggests that it’s somehow incredible for men to complete the most basic of tasks.

Tasks which are perceived as being ‘women’s work’. It’s a slap in the face all round.

The media needs to stop congratulating dads for doing what they should be doing as a matter of course. Mums do so without being singled out for praise, so why should we be lauded?

The second story was the one that everyone is still talking about. The one concerning the views of the Trump-sympathising TV presenter who just loves attention.

I won’t mention him by name. That’ll show him. Anyway, this time he took a pop at Daniel Craig for carrying his little one in a sling.

Apparently, taking care of your own child is emasculating. Particularly if you play a fictional spy.

Again, man alive. He’s so obviously wrong that I’m not going to dignify his ludicrous claims with an explanation as to why.

But toxic masculinity like this is damaging and dangerously so. While we shouldn’t be praising dads for doing the basics, we shouldn’t be persecuting them either.

There are numerous reasons for this. Mental health immediately springs to mind.

Then there’s the fact that workplace culture needs to change for dads to be treated as equal parents. Very public assertions to the contrary don’t help.

And, as John at Dad Blog UK points out in this post, there are a great many impressionable future parents among this TV presenter’s audience.

It’s also an abuse of privilege and power. He has a massive global following and should use the position this affords him responsibly.

These two stories are sadly pretty typical. The alarming thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. Dads are either bashed or put on a pedestal.

Would it be that difficult to simply say that parenting is equally challenging and rewarding, and that most mums and dads are doing a good enough job?

Of course, it wouldn’t. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Will the media ever get dads right? I think this depends on whether it wants to.


  1. Nige

    Tom this is so right it’s media basically making out still! That dads have no idea how to parent. Of course you and me know very different. Sadly while said tv presenter keeps doing what he is doing purely so people will notice him. Dads won’t be seen as anything but useless. It’s the slowest movement in the history of time. Yes dads can parent and quite well for that matter. Fab post mate.

  2. JOhn Adams

    Wow, the Declan Donnelly article passed me by completely. that’s, erm, interesting! Very odd way to look at things. I guess this news story was totally eclipsed by the other one! Thanks for the mention Tom and no, both these representations of men are pretty awful.

  3. Parent Bear

    Great post DiaryoftheDad!

    I agree with you, that the media as a whole, could do a better job. However, I also tend to see the media, as a reflection of society. Just as there are good bloggers, and bad bloggers, there are good reporters/anchors/journalists, and bad ones.

    Generally, recent years have taught us that some media personalities choose to appeal to a certain audience in an unjust manner, just as some world leaders choose to. It helps fill their pockets.

    Does it make the world a worse place? Almost certainly yes.

    Unfortunately, I have no idea what the solution is, except that we, as a society, need to educate our children better, so that future generations do better. That way, as the future little ones grow up (including future media personalities), they’ll do better.

    I’ve summarised a little here, but I think you get my drift.

    Ambitious? Yes, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying! I know you’re trying already. We just need more people to do like you!!! 🙂

  4. Dynamic Dad

    Right behind you, there is on the one hand no reason for these to be headline stories at all.

    On the other though, the more they make the headlines, the more normal dads parenting will be, so the less sensational and headline worthy they’ll become.

    This will be the day that dad’s are considered equal by the majority – and a great day it will be!

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