The sixth and next to the last contributor in the New York Times “Room for Debate” series on fathers in the parenting conversation is Andy Gertsacov. He is a professional clown and co-founder of the Digital Family Summit. But he seriously identifies the problem and sees a solution; though, I am afraid it is wishful thinking.
He blames the problem of the stereotypical inept male on the culture of the past (where dads were less than they should be) and the media. Perceptions are hard to change, he says, and the media has not kept up with the times in their telling of any healthy dad stories.
The solution: “fiction” that tells the truth. I really like the way he puts this. For it is in fiction: stories through movies and TV that have perpetuated the stereotype in people’s minds. Why can’t we begin a media onslaught that portrays dads in a better light? And do so in a compelling, well-done way? The answer: those in control of media don’t want to.
The last contributor in the debate is Dave Taylor, the author of a blog called GoFatherhood. On his blog, he discusses his essay and the topic that he was given, which surprisingly, the NYT didn’t post in those same words at the beginning, at least not that I saw. Someone correct me if I am wrong.
Dave begins by talking about how he (even as a single dad) is seen as “the less important parent.” He also bemoans the fact that this stereotype—and worse—is highly visible through TV. He then gives some stats that show that indeed from both men’s and women’s perspectives there is a problem in the way dads are viewed.
The solution: engagement. Dads need to be dads and need to engage the community to attain the rights to be dads. Second, society needs to honor the differences between moms and dads and stop comparing apples to oranges. His last line is painfully true: “Our children desperately need more fathers, and everything we bring to parenting.” I couldn’t agree more.