Congratulations, Babble. You've done it again. Your editors failed to do any justice to promoting the causes of equal parenting and eliminating gender stereotypes. And why? It was all in the name of scoring lots of click-throughs to keep the advertisers happy while padding Disney's bottom line (shares of DIS are up almost $10 since November) while a husband and wife get attacked for sharing their point of view. Who wins here? Not moms. Not dads. Not the kids. Disney.
A dad named Cody, who is relatively new to the blogging world, wrote a list of ten things his wife does better than he does when it comes to parenting and housekeeping. No big deal, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, Cody was not aware of the backlash that would result from the title of his blog entry and the way it was laid out in Babble format (perfect link bait and cannon fodder). Cody's post was titled "Top 10 Things That Mothers Do Better Than Fathers" and it included the following bold subheadings so that anyone who didn't read the explanation under each photo would not know that Cody was talking about his own household and not every parent in America...
"Top 10 Things That Mothers Do Better Than Fathers"
as posted to Babble.com by THEYCALLMECODY
3. Changing Diapers
4. Preparing Healthy Food
5. Keeping Kids Clean
7. Going Out And About
8. Changing Diapers
9. Preparing Healthy Food
10. Making Sick Kids Feel Better
Don't Shoot The Messenger
My initial response to the above list was to get really angry and want to defend my gender to the author of this post. I even posted a comment on Facebook that I'm not proud of, but that was my knee-jerk reaction. Obviously, this dad must recognize that each of the above items could easily be done effectively by either gender, right? I decided to do a little bit of research into Cody's other writing. From what I read, he is generally on point. In fact, compared to his other writing, this Top 10 list felt very hastily prepared and not completely thought out. He even recently posted about how Americans love controversy! He is relatively new to the blogging scene, and he deserves a bit more slack than he's getting.
I felt that it was admirable that he uses his blog as a way of communicating with his wife and children since that is something he admittedly struggled with in the past. I decided to invite him to discuss my concerns offline after I saw the negative tone running rampant in the comments section. I was able to have a decent discussion while passing along some of my hard-learned dad blogging wisdom. I applauded him for realizing the value of his soapbox, and I gave him a few words of caution as well. I also encouraged him to keep writing, and that he will have at least one more follower from this experience. I honestly believe that he has learned something from all of this, and sadly, it's probably that the blog community can be really ugly sometimes.
Bloggers are going to do what they believe will get them traffic. That's the ultimate goal for most of them. Unfortunately, if you happen to post the piece that sets them off, you're going to catch the bulk of the negative response. Shrug it off, big guy! This too shall pass. You know your family, and you know the intention with which you wrote the article, even if it did not come across the way you intended.
Shoot The Editor
My major complaint with this post is that Babble even let it be posted the way it was written. A good editor would have read Cody's list and title and at least questioned the continuity of the two. The way that the personal stories were written did not gel with the sweeping generalities of the title or sub-headings. According to my conversation with Cody, there was no effort made to change the title to better describe the personal stories, either. If Cody had titled the piece "Top 10 Things That My Wife Does Better Than Me" we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
The folks at Babble definitely know that we are in the midst of the so-called "mom wars" with the recent cover of TIME magazine and the comments in the media that were directed at Ann Romney. I believe that the editor deliberately chose to put the article out there as it was written, at the expense of the author, just to incite a virtual riot. How do I know this? Because they deliberately chose to promote it like this on Facebook:
I say, "Shame on YOU, Babble." I know you have advertisers to please. I know you have quotas to make. However, what are you doing to move the conversation about equality in parenting FORWARD. Why must we have constant efforts from you to pit moms against each other? To pit dads against each other? To pit moms against dads? Where is the benefit besides increased page views for your site? Even Cody's wife, Casey, knows how you guys operate.
While You're At It, Shoot The Bloggers Too
Some bloggers care deeply about what they write, and they want to be taken seriously. I consider myself one of those bloggers. I care deeply about issues pertaining to fatherhood and I care deeply about promoting a culture that supports and encourages involved fatherhood. That's why I do what I do. That is also why I chose to talk to Cody offline to see where his head was at when he wrote this piece. He did post a reply that sort of attempts to mend fences but also calls out certain dad bloggers.
I do hope that, if anything, Cody has learned to make sure his writing is clear and concise, saying exactly what he means while avoiding sweeping generalities. But I hope that he also knows that a lot of dad bloggers support his effort to write for the benefit of his family, and our anger is mostly directed at Babble and not at him.
I also hope that the dad bloggers who were particularly hateful toward this man and his family will take a minute to pause, question their actions, and ask themselves if the response they gave would be effective in accomplishing the end result of getting this blogger to write in a way that supports the cause of involved fatherhood. I would argue that hateful responses to posts like this do little to change the perspective of the individual. Anger has it's place, usually directed at large corporations, but let's not give ourselves a bad reputation* by tearing down our fellow brother in fatherhood.
This article has created an overwhelming response, and I would like to share some of the better ones with you (in my opinion). These bloggers posted responses that ask the right questions and move the conversation where it needs to be headed.
From Man Vs. Dadhood
From Go Ask Your Mother (focuses mostly on the Facebook conversation)
From The Good Men Project
*I would encourage any other dad bloggers who have written about this article to post in the comments section below so that we can truly represent the supportive community that most of us love to brag about belonging to.
Now That We Have Shot All Of The Appropriate PeopleI want to close with a word of encouragement to parents everywhere. Don't let the media suck you into the "mom wars" or "dad wars" or whatever wars that are around the corner. Other than gestation, birthing, and breastfeeding, your ability to parent is not based on your gender. It is based solely on your own motivation and choices that you make to improve your parenting skills. This means that there is no excuse for you not to be the best parent possible. Learn where you are weak, practice what you lack the skill for, and don't shut down or give up trying to be better. This also means that there is no reason your partner can't be just as good as you at parenting - they may need encouragement instead of mockery, support instead of belittling, and education instead of impatience.
Lastly, recognize that all parents are different, and nobody has parenting completely figured out. It would be more beneficial for us to be a community that shares our successes and our struggles while encouraging others to step up when they drop the ball, to get better when they fall short, and to get back up when life knocks them down. Let's hug this one out and move on.
Cody has replied to a friend's blog response and offered some clearer reasoning for his actions related to this post. You can check it out HERE.