I am about to have a rant. The subject; the approach many organisations take when providing parenting advice to dads.
There’s a widespread misconception about us men. For whatever reason, authors, charities and businesses often seem to think men will only respond if the advice they’re given is “tongue in cheek”.
I’ve no idea why this is. It’s as if the whole world thinks 50% of the population is made up of Jeremy Clarkson clones who are incapable of taking their responsibilities seriously.
I musn’t make sweeping generalisations. There are organisations that are very good at treating men appropriately. Unfortunately, however, many just don’t make the grade.
I can think of a business that approached me a while ago wishing to promote its product while also offering advice about “dad dancing”. Last year I started reading a parenting book aimed at dads. I had to give up after just a couple of chapters because the advice was so shocking (worse still, the book in question was written by a father).
Just the other day I was approached and asked if I would publish some “tongue in cheek” advice for dads on my blog. Initially I wasn’t too bothered by the request. When I considered it properly, I realised this followed a depressingly common pattern and that I frequently receive such requests. Essentially there’s an underlying suggestion that fathers can’t be taken seriously as parents.
Allow me to be absolutely crystal clear about this. If I want parenting advice, I want it to be delivered in a straightforward, unbiased, non-judgemental way. I do not need wisecracks about the next time I might have sex or be able to watch football without being interrupted. Such quips are unbelievably clichéd.
When I have needed advice, the situations have been very serious; needing to know what to do with a child who is projectile vomiting while holidaying in a hot country, why my days-old baby is sleeping all day and screaming all night, how to discuss personal hygiene with my daughter. Yes, I have also read up and considered the impact children might have on my marriage, including the most personal aspects.
There’s a time and a place for humour. It’s not when dealing with the more serious aspects of parenting. Dads simply need advice, they don’t need it to be tongue in cheek.
Photo credit; Ed Perchick, reproduced under Creative Commons agreement 2.0.