Stereotypes are either useful or a way of typecasting subsections of society – it all depends on how you view them. Sometimes, they can be useful. Who doesn’t like the idea that men are powerful and good with gadgets? Or that all redheads have attractive, fiery personalities? Stereotypes do have the power to be good.
However, when it comes to Dads? Well, our stereotypes are less than attractive.
Fatherhood Falsehood or Fact: Dad Knows Nothing
To begin with, there’s the cluelessness factor. We’ve come a long way from the “father knows best” attitude of the 60s; in fact, it’s now exactly the opposite. Time and again on TV and (particularly) in adverts, the Dad has absolutely no idea what he’s doing.
Take Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. He’s well meaning, kind, cheerful… and he has no idea when it comes to parenting. All the serious stuff is left to his spouse. He’s the perfect caricature of the modern depiction of fatherhood. In reality of course, plenty of men are as involved in parenting as their partners are.
Fatherhood False or Fact: Dad Doesn’t Care About Himself
You’d think from certain media portrayals that when a man settles down into family life, all of his other priorities vanish. He no longer cares about staying fit, preferring to update his wardrobe every few years to accommodate an expanding waistline. When the bald patch begins to become more than a patch, he has no interest in finding an effective hair loss treatment, because he’s given up on looking good. As for food, well, think how many times you have seen a version of the following scene play out:
Dad: “I want [some unsuitable meal such as pizza or even something relatively benign, like butter]”
Mom: “You can’t have that, your cholesterol/heart/blood pressure!”
Dad: [sneakily eats it anyway and then lies to his wife]
Because of course, why would a man want to be healthy so he can stick around long enough to see his kids grow up?
Result? So very FALSE.
Fatherhood Falsehood or Fact: Dad Protects His Daughter(s)
There’s nothing wrong with this stereotype in and of itself. Any father knows the protectiveness we feel towards our daughters; we’re already dreading the day she announces there’s another man in her life. However, this is a bizarre stereotype because of the silent implication that… we don’t care so much about our sons? Like we’re going to fight anything that comes within 10 feet of our daughters, but the boys can fend for themselves?
Fatherly protectiveness doesn’t know gender!
Result? TRUE in and of itself, but we’re protective of our sons too!
Fatherhood Falsehood or Fact: Dad Can’t Cook
Any father in a sitcom who dares try to concoct a meal is doomed. There’s going to be a mess, food all over the ceiling, the kids, the floor and any unfortunate pets who happen to be in the vicinity.
Nonsense. Some of the most decorated chefs in the world are both fathers and great cooks. Give a Dad the right recipe, and he’ll banish this myth in one evening.