Dads Matter To Kids: Socially, Mentally, Physically, and Academically

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

As I made it clear in my review of the Robitussin commercialCoughequence #8 Waking The Baby,” dads are trivialized in media, especially in commercials targeted towards women. One of the worst parts about dads being reduced to just standing there and/or making a mess is that this familiar and toxic concept is so easily received by audiences. 

If the roles were reversed in that commercial, and it was the mom who coughed and woke the baby, leaving the husband to put the baby to bed alone, it would probably come across as bizarre to viewers.

But since it was the token unshaven dad, it goes unnoticed.

I think it’s weird in the commercial how the mom and dad are putting their baby to bed together, anyway. Why are they doing that? In my version of reality as a dad, Mommy and I took turns back when you were that little.

The only reason the dad was even there was to wake up the baby, creating a plot device in which Robitussin saves the day. So actually, the commercial would have been better had the dad not been there to begin with.

And so the subliminal message continues: Dads just get in the way when they do show up.

Fortunately, The Today Show‘s Matt Lauer evidently disagrees with that marketing approach. He believes that dads are very important, especially to their kids.

How do I know this? Because he recently teamed up with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse to create a public service announcement, narrated by Tom Selleck.

It’s the 30 second ad at the top of this page, by the way.

I liked it so much that I checked out the feature The Today Show did on it:

In this clip, Matt Lauer asks Eric Snow, Executive Director of Watch D.O.G.S., to explain just why dads are so important. His reply is fascinating:

“Study after study demonstrates that a child with a positive adult male role model actively engaged in his or her life is twice as likely to graduate high school as a child who doesn’t and is going to develop more socially, mentally, physically and academically… Dads make a huge difference.”

I get it that not every child has easy access to a positive adult male role model who is willing to be actively engaged in his or her life. That’s why I’m a sponsor for Men Of Valor, a mentoring program for children whose dads aren’t in the picture.

Every other Thursday night, you see me leaving right after dinner and you ask, “Daddy going to see his friend?” I mentor a 17 year-old boy.

I do this because I know the difference I can make by helping him develop more socially, mentally, physically, and academic, just by my presence and engagement as a positive adult male role model.

Even if sitcoms and commercials continue to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of doofus dads, I know the truth:

Dads do matter. Matt Lauer agrees.




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  1. by Kim

    On March 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Unfortunately that `doofus dad` scenario is often an issue with how people choose to view it, especially women. The issue is usually dad just doesn’t do things the same as mom, or doesn’t have the experience yet.
    My husband is one of those inexperienced ones, but my view is that it doesn`t matter if the diapers on backwards, its clean. He`s learning too, and he doesn`t stay home with them all day, so its just going to take him longer.
    At the same time, that inexperience has given my son a huge sense of independance over time. Little guy loves showing Daddy where the pull ups or toothbrushes are.

  2. by Macy

    On March 3, 2013 at 7:07 am

    My four year old grand daughter’s father is such a blessing in her life. Sure he occasionally sends her back home with miss matched socks, lol but he is consistent and loving.

    My daughter (her mom) didn’t have her father growing up. He passed away from cancer when she was 5. I feel that it shows in how she turned out. At the lovely age of 13 she became very hard to manage. She was rude, impulsive, and boy crazy. She didn’t have a loving father to help guide her self esteem and self worth. She looked for attention elsewhere and became pregnant by 16.

    Would she have acted out as much if her Dad hadn’t died? IDK, but she would have had twice the support, guidance and love in her life that would have put her on a very different road…

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