As 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 culture effects buying trends and consumer demands. So it’s no surprise that the mini-van is being fazed out, as the “crossover SUV” is taking its place. Accordingly, dads are showing a greater presence in the carpooling lane.
That means something to automakers like General Motors; so much so, that a couple of weeks ago they flew me up to their Detroit headquarters to show me, along with several other “daddy bloggers,” how their Traverse is designed- with dads in mind.
By the end of our 22 hour visit, I thought to myself: “Wow, we are being treated as a valuable demographic here, not a classic stereotype…”.
Zach Rosenberg, co-creator of 8BitDad, said it in a way that made me jealous I didn’t think of it first:
“As the dads, we’re expected to be meat-heads, muscle car enthusiasts, and wallets.”
He’s right. Even at best, typically today when dads are portrayed in commercials for household products (advertisements which are typically geared towards women), men are shown making messes, getting lost, and ultimately being put into place by their thin, intelligent wife who saves them from their buffoonery.
Though it was one of my favorite sitcoms growing up, Tim Allen’s Home Improvement capitalized on this concept. I feel like there remains a subconscious backlash from sitcoms like that which says all men care about are sports, light beer, sex, and cars with big motors.
While I recognize that as a valid stereotype in American history, I am overly aware that I represent a completely different demographic of men.
Obviously, this new and relevant demographic holds a lot of weight, because I later found out that we daddy bloggers (who I assume most easilty represent the “active dad” group) were the only targeted group that GM invited to Detroit to show the designing of the Traverse to.
I’m not rich, famous or hugely influential; but General Motors made me personally feel important, desired, and valuable. Evidently, I serve as a relevant symbol of the modern American dad, who may or not even make as much money as his wife and who has learned to adopt certain roles as a parent that would have previously gone to his wife.
In my next post, I’m going to take you behind the doors of General Motors; showing you some of the cool ways they design and test out the Traverse.
But not because they pressured me in any way; I didn’t at all feel like I was being coerced into buying a time share in Florida or forcefully invited to join a pyramid scheme selling trendy diet pills.
Instead, they were real people who treated me like a real person. They even specifically gave me their blessing to include anything negative in my upcoming blog posts, but not to feel like I had to write about the visit at all.
Wow; an invitation to be vulnerably honest. How weird.
I represent the demographic of American dads who actually contribute the bettering of the American family and who actually has buying power when it comes to the family crossover SUV; not the idiot you see on TV who forgets his wife’s birthday.
GM understands that about us dads. That’s pretty cool; to be part a relevant demographic, not a sexist stereotype.
Let me take you back to my senior year of college. I was working an afternoon shift at Liberty University’s brand-new student center with my culturally aware, straight-talking friend, Anna.
“You totally look like a soccer dad right now,” she said.
At the time, I didn’t realize that was a bad thing, with my faded polo shirt tucked into my khaki cargo pants, paired with tennis shoes and a flat hairstyle that resembled Mike Brady on the first season of The Brady Bunch.
Over time, especially since getting married, I have learned how to dress as a culturally relevant man, not Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy.
So for any dads out there who are wanting to step up their game, I’m here to sincerely help. The truth is, Nick Burns (a Saturday Night Live character played by Jimmy Fallon) is a good place to start; regarding who not to look like.
1. If you are a white man under the age of 40, nix the mustache. It makes you look a pervert. No one takes a young mustached Caucasian man seriously- hence the term, “ironic mustache.”
2. Lose the cell phone belt clip. Just place your phone in your pocket and leave it on vibrate. That way, no one has to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” every time someone calls you.
3. No white socks. Unless you’re playing sports or you’re Michael Jackson in 1985, white socks are nerdy.
4. Give away your pleated pants. Pleats went out with Sears catalogs and Zack Morris cell phones.
5. When it comes to your hairstyle, the key is not to look like a weatherman, who I feel are notorious for having a definite “side part” like the previously mentioned Season One Mike Brady. The truth is, the clean-cut, yet semi-messy “Ryan Seacrest” is the safest way to go right now.
6. Go black, or go brown; but don’t go both. If you are wearing a brown belt, don’t wear black pants or black shoes too; and vice versa.
7. When it comes to jeans, light and baggy says “Hey man, Creed’s coming into town and I’ve got front row tickets!”. Also, do not purchase jean shorts. Like the white man’s mustache, they have become a fashion joke, now referred to as “jorts.”
8. Unless you’re actively on duty in the military, there is no reason for your pants to have cargo pockets. Cargo pants equal “sloppy” except they are part of your required uniform.
9. When wearing a neck tie, which you sporadically should, only wear it with a long-sleeved, collared shirt. I’m sure you don’t want to look like Dwight Schrute.
10. Fact: There is a reason no one ever asks anymore; “boxers or briefs?” That’s because it goes without saying. Boxers.
Passing the Mic:
Can you think of anything to add to my list? Maybe you’ll give me enough material here to write “10 More Ways Not to Look Like a Soccer Dad.”
That pretty much sums it up. An intoxicated dad recruits his 9 year-old daughter to drive him home. Fortunately, his altered state of awareness caused him to brag his crime to a gas station cashier, as well as, the security camera.
So the predictable blog comment here should go something like this:
“Can you believe this guy? It’s people like this that should be locked up. What a horrible father! He endangered an innocent child, as well as, everyone else on the road!”
I agree. The man obviously shouldn’t have A) exposed his daughter to his drunkenness B) especially not in a place where he would have to eventually leave from in a vehicle, not to mention, C) force her to illegally drive a car D) because on top of everything else wrong with this scenario, he is setting an unimaginably horrible example for his daughter and E) who knows, maybe he is giving ideas to other outrageously inept parents out there.
Seriously, let’s hang a millstone around this guy’s neck and shove him off a plank, then stone him with radioactive moon rocks; only right after we stick a badge on his chest reading “World’s Worst Dad.” Just for good measure, give him an enema of baby barracudas swimming in Tabasco sauce. Right?
The question is, can we give “World’s Worst Dad” a microscopic shred of credit? Just for one thing: After all, he himself didn’t drive his daughter. Granted, he should have never done what he did. But was his decision to hand the keys to his 9 year-old daughter at least better than him driving drunk?
Passing the Mic:
Which is the greater evil- giving the keys to his daughter or him getting behind the wheel (with his daughter in the van)?
Back in July, a restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania started banning children under the age of 6 from entering its restaurant. Evidently, this event sparked a trend called the Brat Ban- a ban in which a certain demographic of adults want to keep kids out of their favorite public places (at least during certain hours). In addition to restaurants, this also includes swimming pools, theaters, planes, and grocery stores. This trend has evidently fired up a debate with parents.
As a dad, I’m evidently supposed to be offended. I’m supposed to go on about how the Brat Banners are selfish, whiny, bratty people themselves who just don’t understand the reality and necessity of having to take kids into public places. I should also defend us parents by saying we can’t always completely control our children in public.
Here’s the thing: I say if a business can afford to ban kids, let ‘em.
In this economy, if a restaurant or store or entertainment venue finds more monetary value solely in adults as opposed to families, then let them capitalize on that. Honestly, if I showed up at a grocery store where they ban children during the hours I shopped, I would simply take my money and my kid elsewhere. That’s simply it- no drama from me.
Something I particularly like about the Brat Ban is that it raises social awareness of two extremes: A) the parents out there who let their undisciplined kids run around unattended in public and B) the adults who generally see children as a rude nuisance. I represent neither; instead, I am one of the normal people not taken into consideration in these scenarios.
I think that the more people talk about socially extreme situations like these, the more it creates a snowball effect where many of the extremists begin to conform to the expected social norm. These days, if a semi-celebrity publicly makes an allegedly racist, sexist, or anti-gay comment, all Twitter will break loose over it. But there’s a pretty good chance that 50 years ago the same statement would have barely raised an eyebrow.
So I say let businesses ignore the civil rights of children. Let that action speak for the company itself and what they value. I say let irresponsible parents keep doing their thing and let those who are annoyed by all children keep running their mouths.
Meanwhile, I’ll sit here watching from the bleachers with my well-behaved kid.
Passing the Mic:
What do you other normal parents think about the Brat Ban?
In my son’s eyes, I am the coolest person in the room; except for when my wife is there too. All she has to do is pick him up and he’ll be happy. If I pick him up, he cries for her.
It’s totally a double standard. My son is putting me in a difficult and unfair situation. Doesn’t he realize he isn’t being logical?
After many frustrating weeks of me trying to appease my son while my wife would be trying to cook dinner, I finally got it: Get out!
Get out of the room with him and distract him his toy bucket upstairs. Or take a walk outside and watch him get fascinated by every car that whooshes by.
I wanted to believe that I could make him just as happy as my wife could just by my presence. What was I thinking? I don’t have that ability- I have too much testosterone seeping out of my pores to subconsciously comfort my son the way my wife can.
Instead, I simply must engage him with some good ole distraction techniques. One of my favorite methods is to sit him down on the carpet and play with one of his favorite toys in front of him. He can’t make it longer than two seconds before he just has to play with that exact toy at that exact moment.
Another thing I do is to crawl away from him and hide behind the other side of the couch. Then I pop out every couple of seconds. He thinks it’s funny every time I surprise him. Next, I start crawling directly towards him and he does the same, like a jousting match without the horses or swords.
When we meet, I put my arms around him and squeeze him, while growling into his stomach and chest. It’s hilarious how he knows I’m going to “win” every time, but he always charges me with the same smile on his face.
It’s then that dinner is ready and the courageous crusaders must wash up for supper.