I have been a harsh critic of the way men, particularly fathers, have been portrayed in many advertisements. Men are usually made out to be inept and impulsive, needing a female to set them straight or to remedy the confusion or mess that they have made. The rare exception occurred on Super Bowl Sunday where a commercial for Dove’s Men’s Care Products entitled “What makes men stronger?- Care” was aired. The ad showed a series of short clips with men interacting with children of various ages. In each scene the presumed dad was positively interacting with his child. Playfully tossing a small child in the air, dancing with his daughter at her wedding, tending to a child’s call for daddy’s help and a kiss of congratulations. It was a thoughtful, honest depiction of the roles a dad can play in a child’s life. I am grateful to Dove (Unilever) for reminding us that being well fathered is an essential component in raising an emotionally healthy and responsible child. There is a good deal of research that demonstrates that men bring a particular type of parenting to children and that their contribution to parenting compliments a mother’s female energy. For example, fathers tend to play more physically with their children. This encourages healthy risk taking and reinforces athletic pursuits and physical activity. In addition, research shows that girl’s who are well fathered tend to feel more secure about their sexuality and have lower rates of teen pregnancy. Presumably, validation by dad means that they are less likely to seek self worth through casual sexual encounters. Astonishingly, girls without fathers in the home tend to reach puberty earlier than girls with fathers who are present. A fact that proves how important environment is in expressing our genetic programming.
Hopefully the message in the Dove Men’s Care commercial will help those men who are active in their fathering role feel validated for their efforts and at the same time remind fathers and men who are not yet fathers how they can still be manly while parenting their children with care and compassion.