Since becoming a father, I, like many people, have spoken up about dads playing more of an involved role in the upbringing of their children — as well as the way this increased involvement is still not only being downplayed, but even ridiculed by so many. And being the kind of person who loves to whip out my soapbox from time to time, I never have a problem when it comes to defending fellow dads.

This year has been unofficially deemed the year of the dad. We’ve seen some pretty big strides taken to help break down the stereotypes of the idiot dad, but it still feels like we have a long way to go. For every hip and cool commercial, like #HowtoDad from Cheerios and the call to celebrate dads with Real Dad Moments by Dove Body Care, we still encounter examples of dads being marginalized on a daily basis. Some men even face particularly harsh criticism; such was the case with baseball player Daniel Murphy, who took off the three days of paternity leave granted to each player by MLB to attend the birth of his son. Because that paternity leave conflicted with opening day, Murphy was subjected to major criticism by many in the media.

Even long-time family traditions like apple picking are not safe from those who would like to drum up a laugh at dad’s expense. Don’t believe me, just look at the picture below:


The picture above was taken just this past September at a farm in Massachusetts where they offer apple picking, but only if children, and dads, are under strict supervision. The man who took this picture, Aaron Gouveia from the Daddy Files, wrote a stellar and pointed response detailing why stunts like this (that companies will claim were all done in the name of jokes and a good old-fashioned ribbing) are ultimately dangerous to our sons and daughters, who grow up with the idea of dad being less valuable than mom. 

Look, I get that there are many out there who will say that people need to lighten up or not take things so seriously, and I’m all for a good joke. But for every one post shining a positive light on fathers and their place in the family, there are a hundred more like this one and this one suggesting that we’re a bunch of Neanderthals in the delivery room.

If we continue to push these kinds of messages — specifically, the message that dad is less than mom — and just write them off as jokes, then we as a society are doing a major disservice to our young sons. Because one day those little boys will grow up to be men, even fathers, who think that it’s OK to put less time into raising their children because society said so. Thus, the cycle of diminished male involvement will continue to grow, and for what? A cheap laugh?

I wish I could say that this stereotyping of men and fathers was isolated to ignorant companies and media looking to drum up attention (because as we all know, even bad press can be good press), but it’s not. It’s unfortunately happening in the home as well. There are still plenty of women who think taking potshots at their husbands’ competency, or lack thereof, is acceptable.

I realize in the world of blogging and social media that being provocative, sarcastic, and even inflammatory at times, gets more views and clicks than actually being earnest and heartfelt. But on the topics of birth and fatherhood, we men are proud of the role we play and deserve better than to be treated as a punchline in an awful joke.

(This post previously appeared on Papa Does Preach)

About Mike Cruse

Mike is a married father of one crazy, funny, over-the-top, beautiful toddler son. Life-long story-teller with a love for writing. Creator and lead writer at Currently still stuck in a 9-5 job, but inching closer to his dream of being a writer when he grows up, one blog post at a time. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, but now resides in Alexandria, VA. Connect with him on Facebook and on Twitter.



  1. I understand where you are coming from. Jokes that reinforce the incompetence of dads do not serve feminism either. It’s hard not to judge a woman who “leans in” and follows her career if the prevailing opinion is that she has abandoned her children to the care of someone less competent so that she can pursue financial gain. While I feel like there is always room for a sense of humour, given the majority of jokes tend not to poke fun at moms, it’s important to give room to dads to establish boundaries on stuff like this that can be hurtful. As moms we have privilege because of these jokes, people assume we are better parents so it’s unfair for us to tell dads how they should feel about them. Just kidding implies a relationship that simply isn’t present between reader and writer. I do not believe the authors of any of those pieces specifically have a vendetta against dads. I do think we have to be careful about being sensitive to dads and not restrict them from the table with backhanded compliments.

  2. Great post. I’m the proud wife of a wonderful, involved husband and father. I’m also the proud daughter of a dad who raised three girls mostly on his own. I want my own son to know how important fatherhood is, how amazing and complex it is. As women, we’ve had to work so hard to build up our girls, to show them that they are capable of becoming athletes, engineers, anything. I don’t want my son to struggle with insecurity about fatherhood because of some dumb but damaging jokes.

  3. If I could ask this post to marry me and father my children, I would. I’ve already done that, with an amazing man I like to call my husband who parents equally and without whom I’d be lost. Thank you for writing this. It’s so true that we have a responsibility to our sons (I have two) to reinforce that Dad is just as important as Mom. We are different, but neither is the more important parent, regardless of who is stay-at-home and who works at an office. Every time someone asks “Oh, is your husband babysitting today?” The answer is “No, he’s their father, he’s parenting.” I am so grateful to my husband and to what he brings to the parenting equation. Our sons are getting the best (and sometimes worst) of both of us, and learning what it means to be an involved, loving, nurturing dad. I tell him all the time he’s a good dad, in front of our sons. And he does the same “Isn’t Mommy the best?” So, thank you for speaking up, and yes, click bait is click bait, but posts like these get read too, and loved, and shared.

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