Are you dad enough?

Rebuttal to TIME Magazine’s recent cover image and story. [12]

What do you think about all the reaction to TIME magazine’s recent cover featuring an attractive blonde mother breastfeeding her son? [1] [2] [3] [4] The fact that a nurturing mother evokes such outrage is amusing to me. [5]

This public response to a magazine cover begs the question (at least in my mind): would TIME ever run a story titled “Are you Dad Enough?” and cover the nurturing aspects of fatherhood? [6] Another question that comes to mind is: when was the last time you saw a father portrayed as a responsible father on the cover of TIME magazine? Or any other mainstream periodical for that matter? Has the model of a loving father vanished from the landscape of American culture? [7]

Plenty of examples of fathers are portrayed on television, but I’m not talking about the Tim Allen “Aarrrgghh, Aarrrgghh, Aarrrgghh” type dads who think going to a sporting goods store is fatherhood. Nor am I talking about the According to Jim beer-guzzling, television-watching, misogynists who seem to mess up everything and then Cheryl has to come in and fix the problems before the end of the show. [8] This portrait of American dads is degrading to those fathers out there who manage to change a child’s diaper, wash the dishes, do the laundry, fix a plugged tub on a Sunday morning when everyone needs a bath before church, [9] play trains with the younger children or stick ball with the older ones, and, in general, serve and sacrifice for their family. [10] I know plenty of fathers who are working crumby jobs just to feed their families and take care of their homes. They sacrifice their own dreams and aspirations because that’s what dad’s ought to do.

Now there are plenty of derelict dads out there who sit around and play video games all day, try to be cool with their kids and consider their children cultural objects. They are poor examples of fatherhood. Dear boy-dads, grow up. You are fathers now. You are no longer cool, hip, or awesome. Fatherhood is a difficult, thankless but ultimately rewarding vocation. Fathering a child only takes moments. Fatherhood is a lifetime commitment. Join the ranks of nurturing, responsible fathers and own it with dignity and grace. [11]

NOTES: [1] In my opinion, the reaction to the “Are You Mom Enough?” TIME cover is a combination of paleo-puritanism, meso-feminism, and neo-idiocy. [2] “Mika Brzezisnki… suggested on the air that the cover was needlessly sensational…” in the article TIME Magazine cover of breastfeeding mom sparks intense debate on “attachment parenting” [3] “Time magazine staff writer Kate Pickert defended the cover” saying “I think that we knew it would be a provocative cover but we’re thrilled that lots of people are responding to it… We’re happy to see that we’ve sparked a great conversation.” Read more: Breast-Feeding Time Cover Mom Responds to Critics [4] “There is no doubt that the TIME cover strikes the public as shocking. But, as Pickert points out, the women featured are at one extreme end of this always-controversial discussion.” Read: Jamie Lynne Grumet, Breastfeeding Mom On ‘TIME Magazine’ Cover, Illustrates Attachment Parenting [5] It is no longer shocking. At least, not to me. But maybe that’s because, as a culture, Americans are desensitized to shock. What really shocks us, as Americans, any more? [6] Can you imagine a bare-chested attractive father on the cover of TIME magazine? Okay, maybe a bare-chested Brad Pitt with his children might sell magazines. The truth is, magazine publishers need to sell magazines and a female with suckling will sell more copies to the over-sexualized masses than a cover of the opposite proportions. Think of the last few covers of TIME magazine that featured a male figure. Almost all of those covers feature men of power and influence. Has there ever been a magazine cover featuring a nurturing father? [7] If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might propose that there is a war on true, masculine fatherhood in America. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Just thought I’d beat you to the punch before I get pushed into that corner and painted as a FoxNews-watching/ditto-head/wing-nut. Which I am not. [8] The only role model on television I can recall that resembles those two characteristics is Heathcliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show. [9] Not that I’m using personal examples to boast of more “real” dad credentials, but fatherhood is about serving and sacrificing. [10] That is where the “amen,” “hell-yas” and other forms of applause is supposed to go. Read this post again and respond accordingly. [11] This post started out as a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek imagining of a bare-chested father on the cover of TIME magazine, but became a rant. Apologies for the sudden fury. And blessings to those who actually read the small print. [12] PHOTO CREDITS: Though I created the mock TIME magazine cover, I found the retro father with children photo on this Tumblr page.

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