Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats, as part of “Mom’s Homeroom,” proudly presents me and other contentious, Frosted-Mini-Wheat-owning moms with a pop quiz to help us with our maternal duties:
- What’s the best way to encourage math skills at home?
- How can you stop homework procrastination?
- How can you help develop your child’s reading comprehension?
These are all great questions, and I’m very glad the cereal box asked them. But I bet you can guess what my problem with my pop quiz is: Why is it only my pop quiz? Is it because there are no questions about tickle fights, farts, or video games? Would those be the proper questions for “Dad’s Pop Quiz?”
The focus on mothering—versus fathering—is so pervasive that it is easy to skip right over. In this case, and many other examples of advertising, the message that Mom is the only responsible parent is so subtle that it’s almost subliminal. Mom needs a “pop quiz” to make sure she is doing everything right—first think in the morning, no less! No anxiety or guilt there!
Of course it’s “Mom’s Pop Quiz” and “Mom’s Homeroom.” Mom’s the one buying cereal and making breakfast and helping out at school and figuring out homework, right? Yes, lots of the time. But around here, guess who buys the cereal and serves it up? Guess who is the resident math whiz and who reads my daughter’s books and discusses them with her? Yep: Dad.
Some dads are getting sick of the double standard.
A group of them got so irked at a series of Huggies commercials that depict fathers as bumbling idiots that they protested the ad on Huggies’ Facebook page and created a petition to stop the ads. Although one ad in the series was pulled, the others are still in circulation—and Huggies isn’t redefining its target audience anytime soon. Which means, of course, that those dads who aren’t helping out as much as they could be are getting a free pass to consider diaper-changing mom’s territory. Changing perceptions about gender roles takes much longer than changing diapers—but dads are proving they are just the dudes for the job.
You know what I think the best thing about this story is? That the dads did this for themselves. They were insulted by sexist ads that imply that mom is queen of the household and dad is an inept babysitter. Many of the dads who protested the ad are the primary caregivers for their children.
That’s significant. It’s a major social change—something that would not have been remotely thinkable 50 years ago. I think it’s worth taking a moment to absorb that fact, and to do whatever we can to help our society reflect this reality, while increasing the number of households where dads are the ones who might get a “pop quiz.”
To that end, I went to the Mom’s Homeroom website on MSN.com and filled out a survey about my browsing experience and cereal preferences. In the comments section, I told them I thought their site was wonderful and it’s great that they are helping moms help their kids succeed in school, but that I’d like to see them rename the site Parent’s Homeroom and include pictures of dads helping their kids with homework.
While I was looking at the site, I realized what good intentions it had—there was a profile of the moms involved, and I could tell they just wanted to do a good job, and help other moms do a good job. I totally support that—and I know a lot of dads do too.
Maybe one of these days my husband will see a Dad’s Pop Quiz on the cereal box, with nary a question about video games or tickle fights. If he does, I’m sure he’ll ace it.