Screw Waldo! Where’s Dad?

23 Jul

This week, I begin experimenting with my Monday post. I had been posting a link to my Naperville Patch column. In a sign of the times, the Patch is no longer carrying opinion pieces written by people with, you know, opinions. Said people like to be paid. Said news source figures they can get people to write blogs for free. I have, indeed, gone to the dark side and agreed to write a blog on the Patch covering the same topics I did in my column: parenting and suburban life. For now. But that doesn’t mean I have to send y’all to the Patch! Oh, no, no! You can read my excellent verbage here. Benefit to you? I leave in the snarky, nasty bits I can’t really put on a family media outlet. Enjoy!

Maybe you’ve seen them. The Proctor and Gamble “Thank you, Mom” commercials showing moms around the world getting their little athletes out of bed, shuttling them to lessons, washing out their work out gear, biting their nails at meets—all so the tykes can grow into Olympic athletes? Another shows athletes arriving and competing at the Olympics and each athlete is portrayed by a child ‘cause “in their moms’ eyes,” the ad states, “they are all still kids.” The spots have gone viral on the Internet primarily because they’re real tearjerkers.

They make me cry, too, but not only because of their sentimental portrayal of the sacrifices moms make for their kids. I’m saddened the whole campaign focuses on moms as if they are the sole reason athletes are able to rise to the pinnacle of their sports.

Tell that to Apolo Ohno, raised by a single dad who juggled 12-hour shifts at his hair salon with caring for his infant son. Dad got Apolo into competitive swimming and inline skating to keep his son from becoming a latch-key kid. When Apolo switched to speed skating at 12 years old, his father drove him to competitions throughout the US and Canada then got him into the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center at 13. Apolo is the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete in history.

Gymnast Nastia Liukin and tennis player Serena Williams are coached by their fathers. Ireland’s Katie Taylor, also coached by her father, is following in his footsteps; she’s the world women’s boxing champion.

Virtually assured of a slot on TeamUSA in 2016 is 13-year-old diver Jordan Windle, who nearly qualified for the 2012 team. Jordan, adopted from Cambodia at age two, will have two dads to thank should he achieve his dream.

I have nothing against giving mom a pat on the back but the P&G spots make me queasy reinforcing, as they do, the idea that raising children is a woman’s job. My nausea is increased as I watch the P&G moms doing the laundry, washing dishes, shuttling kids in their big fat minivans. Yeah, someone has to drag the cranky, sleepy future Olympians out of bed but in our house it’s Mom during the week and Dad on weekends ‘cause, you know, we both work. Good luck finding a mom doing anything but home and kid care in these spots. And dad? The only one you’ll see is sitting on his butt watching his daughter on TV.

Twenty-four percent of children in the United States are being raised by a single mother. Abundant research shows the presence of responsible, involved fathers reduces poverty, prevents child neglect and abuse, increases child health and academic performance and decreases discipline problems, among many other benefits. In that light, leaving dad out of the picture in an advertisement seems irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst. P&G claims it is the “proud sponsor of moms.” How hard would it have been to be proud sponsor of parents?

The P&G commercials are fictional dramatizations of idealized moms. If you’re still looking for an Olympic moment that will bring tears to your eyes, look back to 1992 when British runner Derek Redmond tore a hamstring muscle in the 400 meters. In pain, he hobbled to the finish supported by a man who ran onto the track from the stands—his father.

13 Responses to “Screw Waldo! Where’s Dad?”

  1. Karin Evans July 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Janice, I’m curious which of your opinionated columns drove the CabbagePatchPeople over the edge. The spanking topic put fear in my heart. –karin

    • jmlindy422 July 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Karin, I was assured it had nothing to do with my content. My editor wanted me to stir the pot but liked that I did it with intelligence. (Pat on back) She moved to a different position. The new editor also assured me that it was only budget cuts that ended my column. I was the only freelancer on the books so it was easy to offer me a blog and save $200/month.

  2. Karin Evans July 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Very nice piece on the Olympics ad campaign focusing on moms – to the exclusion of dads. One of my pet peeves as well. In addition to the excellent points Janice raises, I would also mention that in some cases dads let themselves off the hook, and campaigns like this just reinforce them in imagining that mom can – or even should?? – handle the parenting duties without their involvement. –karin, again

  3. Jim Parks July 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    On behalf of involved dads, Janice, thank you. Good column. – Jim

  4. Madame Weebles July 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    I hate those commercials too, for exactly the reasons you mention. It implies that dads do nothing and haven’t contributed to their children’s future, and it also implies that being a mom is the noblest thing a woman can do. Maybe, maybe not. I chose not to have children but I like to think that I’ve still contributed to society.

  5. The Waiting July 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Ugh, dads get such bad press. I wrote on this when I was pregnant. I suppose P&G is running these ads because moms do the majority of the shopping for the family. They’re basically kissing up. Everything leads back to money and profits, sadly.

    • The Waiting July 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      And come to think of it, the same can be said of your opinion column 😦

      • jmlindy422 July 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

        Amen to that, Emily.

  6. twistingthreads July 24, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    Well, I’m saddened that they cut your opinion column, and I’m glad it had nothing to do with some of the commenters, as some of them were quite of the opposite opinion, it seemed. Hey, at least here you can be as wordy as you want now. 🙂

    I might have chafed at some of my father’s influence as a kid, but I wouldn’t be half the person I am now without him. Shame on me for thinking I knew better! You know those people who are upset every time they do something like their parents, and they say “Oh, no, I’m just like Mom/Dad now!” That’s cause for celebration as far as I’m concerned, even if I would never have guessed I’d be thrilled to be carrying them around with me as an adult. If I had it together as well as they do, I’d be one extremely happy individual. Someday…

    • jmlindy422 July 24, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Yeah, I was able to be a little more wordy here. I wrote another version for the blog I’m keeping on the Patch. More exposure is never bad. Wait…maybe…hm….

  7. Mike August 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Screw Proctor and Gamble by dissing Dad’s. I will buy nothing from them.

    • jmlindy422 August 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      They didn’t really dis Dads so much as they completely ignored them. Vote with those dollars!

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