The Positive Re-branding of Fatherhood

Six months.

The Dadabase

Dads need better PR; that’s where I come in…

In popular American culture we are definitely familiar with hearing the term “Supermom;” a phrase which is typically followed by a brief description of itself when it is used in conversation: “She’s Supermom.  She does it all- takes care of the kids, the cleaning, the cooking…”.  But honestly, have you ever heard anyone use the phrase “Superdad”?  My guess is, not until just now.

Why is that?  Well, that’s not a tough question to answer.  But I will answer it by quoting one of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon, from the first chapter of his book, Manhood for Amateurs: “The handy thing about being a father is that the historic standard is set so pitifully low.”  In other words, simply by showing up and “being there,” a man can meet the positive social expectations of being a dad.

Evidently our society is so accustomed to the relatable lyrics of man-bashing songs sung by beautiful young pop singers that part of us begins to believe that most men really are the losers that inspire hopelessly victimized females to post “Men are jerks!” as their Facebook status update.

What I’m not concerned with is what percentage of America’s men really are like the previously mentioned stereotyped villains.  Instead, what is worth focusing our attention on are the real life husbands and fathers who are doing it right. When I think of the men in my own life whom I look up to, including friends, family members, co-workers, and even acquaintances, it’s the unsung heroes of fatherhood who come to mind.  It’s the men who aren’t insane, selfish, abusive, cruel, idiotic, buffoonish, lazy, cheaters, and/or addicts.

The Dadabase

A few weeks ago I was back in Nashville visiting my friend Joe Hendricks, who is expecting his first child with his wife, Rhonda.  As we talked about how our lives are changing by becoming dads, he confirmed one of my preconceived ideas when he said, “I really think dads are making a comeback.  They’re becoming more actively involved in their kids’ lives than they used to be.”

I believe it.  We are reaching a point in history where as a dad, you’re either a hero or a zero- you’re either “all in” or you’re “all out.”  Men are learning to find their identity and their purpose in fatherhood, not despite it.  In fact, it’s actually cool to be an actively involved dad these days.  There are actual social undertones of respect that men receive when it is apparent they sacrifice their own wants and desires for their family.

Is it a coincidence that you are reading a “daddy blog” right now?  Why did Parents.com deem it necessary for a normal dad like myself who holds no impressive psychology degree or dozens of years of counseling experience to craft his paternal thoughts before an enormous audience on a daily basis? Because there is value in positive, relevant, everyday (not mediocre) fatherhood. There is a need for the voice of good dads to be heard.

The Dadabase

If this so called re-branding of fatherhood is to take place, how can we go about making it happen on a large scale?  Do we need to tell men to be better husbands and fathers?  Nope, because that would be A) nagging the ones who need to hear it most and B) preaching to the choir for the rest of the men, who already are good fathers and husbands.

That makes me think of a blog post by Jon Acuff of, Stuff Christians Like, who recounts how most Mother’s Day sermons he’s heard throughout his lifetime do nothing but praise mothers, while Father’s Day sermons typically, in contrast, preach to men to step up to the plate and stop being so selfish.

How do you inspire a man?  Encouragement.  Positive reinforcement.  By positively confirming with him what he is doing right, he will become eager to repeat his good behavior.  No man wants to be a failure, nor does he want to feel nagged.  Especially not a good or decent man.

So as the author of The Dadabase, my focus on deliberately proclaiming this positive re-branding of fatherhood is for the men who are already leading the way.  As for the rest, if they’re cool enough, they’ll catch on and join us.

The Dadabase

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  1. by Clickworthy | June 4 2011 | Scottsdale Moms Blog

    On June 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    [...] Day is around the corner! Here’s a thoughtful post by a dad blogger on what he calls “the positive re-branding of [...]

  2. by Craigslistdad

    On July 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Bravo! I am on team positive re-branding! I am an involved hands on dad of two wonderful girls, age 5 and 19 months. Being a just a biological father is worlds apart from being a “daddy”. Cute son, by the way…and yes, there are days/nights when I just want to rest/fall asleep on the floor as well :-)

  3. by a.m

    On July 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this! My husband & I just had our fourth child & by this time I am completely on board w/the encouragement & can say from lots of personal experience…nagging doesn’t work :) sometimes we women forget that men were MADE to be fathers & we often get in,the way w/our nagging and nit picking; as opposed 2 just saying thanks for what dad is doing right. Keep up the great work, I’m glad to see the daddys get some positive face time!

  4. by Steve

    On July 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

    It’s amazing to me how much some think that simply “being there” makes me a good dad. I think redefining fatherhood means making the idea of the good dad the norm, and setting our own expectations as fathers high. I know many good fathers who strive to be the best father for their children they can be and I am encouraged by this. I ma glad to see that more fathers are talking about the joys of being a dad. The importance of our roles in our children’s lives is outstanding. With involved fathers taking an active role we make sure that our sons will grow up to be great men, and our daughters will know what a great man is.

  5. by Nick Shell

    On July 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Steve, glad to be part of your team. Thanks for finding me and thanks for reading!

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  9. [...] us share the same basic desires for our children.  It doesn’t take being a Christian to want to positively re-brand fatherhood or to be vulnerable enough to admit that I fell in love with my son gradually, not [...]

  10. [...] I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s a fact that dads are now more involved in their kids’ lives than any past generation we know of before us. Therefore, this change in [...]