Last week we talked about a group of not-so "Modern Dads," introduced to us by the A&E Network, which just debuted a new reality show about four stay-at-home fathers who spend an exhausting amount of time proving how little they've changed since college. ("'Modern Dads'? More like warmed-over stereotypes," Aug. 18, 2013)
Several dads (and moms) wrote to let us know how little the show and its protagonists resembled their modern lives. Today we hear from a few of them; following are edited letters.
I am a father of three awesome kids, all 5 and under. It's not easy. It's also the best thing I've ever done. I've flown planes and jumped out of them. I've traveled to some very cool and interesting places around the world. So when I say having kids is the best thing I've ever done, that's pretty big. Watching them grow and develop is amazing.
Your pieces resonate with me as I am a very hands-on (willingly, I might add) father. It kills me that negative male stereotypes still exist and are extremely prevalent regarding fatherhood. I almost never drink, but I will have a beer or glass of wine from time to time. I love my wife. I rarely watch TV, but am looking forward to football season. I do crafts with my kids, take them on nature walks, go on bike rides with them, take them to the park, the pool, etc. I truly enjoy that. So when people say to me, "Oh, are you Mr. Mom today?" or "You must be baby-sitting," I get angry. I'm not Mr. Mom. I'm my kids' father. I'm not baby-sitting. I'm doing what any good parent should be doing: parenting.
Thank you for putting into print what I struggle with all the time. Men like the ones on a so-called reality show do us a huge disservice. It perpetuates a negative stereotype. I guess having a show about a man who loves his kids, can cook and can speak a complete of sentences without grunting or farting has no place on TV. That's sad.
— Dave Plotkin
I really appreciated your "Modern Dads" review, and your point of view resonated with me. It seems, as you alluded to, that it's hip and cool and funny to see 40-something bodies inhabited by fraternity-minded blockheads. And it's unreasonable for us to expect these blockheads to come to grips with the essence of parenthood and adulthood.
As a dad of four and a husband of 16-plus years, reality for me (and, coincidentally, my deepest sense of joy and fulfillment) comes from loving and serving my family. I love seeing my wife living out her strengths and reaching for her dreams, and living in a committed, monogamous marriage. I love seeing my 6-year-old daughter learning to swim in the deep end of the pool and the pride and joy that just explodes from her face. I love going on doughnut runs with my 8-year-old son and talking about baseball, friends or nothing at all.
Quite simply, these are the things that fill my reality with meaning and significance. I want to know that I am setting my kids up for a fulfilling life of adventure, wisdom and discernment, satisfying relationships, authentic spirituality, career and more.
— Mark Matson
Thank you for continuing to take to task the horrible stereotypes of men in media. I'm a single mom trying to raise a son in a culture in which the definition of manhood is severely limited. I spend a great deal of time discussing faulty characterizations of what it means to be a man with both my now-teenage son and daughter.
Please continue to call out shirts, television shows, commercials and other marketing campaigns that define men as idiots. It's good to have someone else out there pointing out the inappropriate socializations taking place and sadly accepted as the norm by mainstream America.
— Kim Shehorn
"I'm not Mr. Mom. I'm my kids' father."
— Dave Plotkin