Just in time for Mother’s Day, writer Chad Prevost is doing his part for dads.
Prevost is a stay-at-home dad who, like many fathers, didn’t notice how poorly fathers are portrayed in pop culture until he became one.
He contends in his Washington Post essay that marketing experts are catching up to the reality — he cites the Cheerios ad above — that the era of the disengaged dad is over.
Historically speaking, the competent domestic dude may not be such a wild, progressive concept, anyway. Roman Krznaric, an anxious father-to-be, did some research into the roles of fathers throughout the world and in other eras.
His startling discovery? Men have historically participated closely in domestic life. Take this small linguistic fact: “hus” is the old spelling for house, and “band” is the bond to the house he rented or owned. A man primarily farmed to take care of his home, a meaning still in use today in “husbandry.”
With the Industrial Revolution, though, many of men’s skills became increasingly obsolete in the western world, as machines took over most chores men used to do so they could go work outside the house. Alas, as Krznaric notes, “there were no clever gadgets invented to nurse a sick child.”
The dumb dad may be turning into an endangered species, but he’s not likely to go extinct any time soon.
For one, dumb people will always be with us, and unfortunately, some of them will always be dads. For another, many men feel dislocated when they aren’t clear on how they’re contributing.
Better to “sacrifice,” get out of the house and earn some dough. Which, despite the rise in stay-at-home dads, men still do far more of: women make only 78 cents on the dollar that men make, and men still dominate the ranks of CEOs and politicians (#ReadyforHillary notwithstanding).
But in my house, my manhood is not called into question because I am the one who kisses my spouse when she gets home, and asks, “How was work?”
Nor because I’m the one cooking dinner and (usually) cleaning up after. When I sit down to catch a few innings of the Braves before bedtime, I’m likely to be interrupted — only I know where the iPad chargers are, how much homework’s been done and where the stray shoe was last seen.