I’m back… And I’m angry

Welcome back, sorry I’ve been away for so long, a combination of work and moving house has had me somewhat restricted in the blogosphere, but I’ll do my best to at least keep things semi-regular from now on.

This post has been brewing for a while to be honest, but an incident recently tipped me over the edge, and I’ll blame it if this gets a bit ranty.

I was reminded to write this by John Adams of DadblogUk, who wrote this excellent post on marketing concentrating on mums – http://ow.ly/BvzT1 – and I suggest you give it some time, its as excellent as his work always is.

It’s an SMA milk advert on the TV that originally got my back up. You’ve probably seen it – it praises mums for the job they are doing, despite having no training and a load of other stuff. It’s nice. But it’s levelled solely at mums, and that’s where my problems lie.

See if it was an advert for a breastfeeding aide, then I’d have no issue. I can happily accept that, while breastfeeding, mum is important to a baby, and its not something us dads can really help all that much with, no matter how keen we are to be involved.

But this advert is for milk formula, commonly used when baby has made the transition from breast to bottle, so why not include dads? It would have been as easy to make a gender generic advert praising parents for the job that they are doing. So where is poor old dad in their thinking? Even the one that does feature in the advert is seen to be a bit of a pillock, and the kid actually looks at mum with an expression that suggests the same.

Admittedly, my other half gives our little boy most of his bottles, but its me that makes them as I leave the house for work in a morning, and its me that deals with them when I’m home in the evening. When it comes to formula, I do my fair share of the work.

Would it have killed the advertisers to show a bleary-eyed dad making up a bottle, and praise his contribution? Or shown dad balancing a baby in his arms while making up a bottle? The simple answer is no. Maybe it’s not ‘cool’ for men to think about such things, but its important to me, as I strive to be involved in each and every aspect of my little man’s life.

So that’s the inconsiderate advert out of the way, but what really got my goat recently was the attitude of a young lady towards me pushing my son around a busy shopping centre in Belfast last weekend.

The lady in question worked on one of those stalls asking people to sign up to a charity, and I stopped to talk to her out of courtesy. I used to have a similar job and know that it can get a bit wearing when everyone ignores you all day long.

After a bit of small talk, she asked my little man’s name and age, as strangers do, and then proceeded to ask, with only the fact that it was just me and him there as potential justification –

“Does he live with his mum? Are you just taking him out for the day?”

Now I’m not someone who swears often (I am), nor do I think profanities are big or clever (I do) but WHAT THE FUCK?

How, may I ask, does seeing a dad pushing his little boy in a pram suggest to someone that me and his mum must have split up, just because she isn’t there?

Are men incapable of taking their children to the shop without female supervision unless it isn’t available? Should I not be allowed out of the house with him if I’m not being carefully watched at close quarters by my admittedly better half?

And would the same thing have been said of we were in the park, playing with a ball, and not at the shop on a Saturday afternoon?

I don’t even know what my point is anymore. I’m still angry about this now – and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to assess what happened and calm down, but I can’t (or won’t).

At the end of the day, dads do a good job too. I may not be with my little man 24/7 as I have to go do a job I despise – made much worse by the fact that it takes me away from him – but I try my best the rest of the time, and its not just mums who have a tough time.

Let’s recognise the parental unit as a whole, perhaps, and award praise suitably? And never, ever, jump to any fucking stupid conclusions should I choose to take my boy out on my own.