Having recently been turned on to the bizarre world of parenting blogs, I’ve noticed a striking similarity that many dad writers share: the use of the term “involved” when referring to their own parenting or the parenting of other dads that they admire most. On the internet, dads love to publicize their encouragement to one another regarding their high parenting IQs. They like to pat each other on the back, as if what they are doing is revolutionary. The modern internet dad has become his own biggest fan. The only “involved” father these men truly admire is themselves. The current age of social media provides an exceptional outlet for fatherly self-promotion. Great fathers can now tell everyone willing to read their ramblings of how great a father they are. But when you boil it down, emphasizing your “involvement” as a father isn’t involved, it’s trendy.
For so long, as far back as I can remember to when I was a kid, moms lorded over the realm of parenting advice. Like a feudal system of regional warlords and their peasantry, moms owned the parenting conversation. This construct didn’t demean dads, it just hid them. The technological and informatic revolution that Al Gore’s internet represents has changed the landscape of parental visibility. Dad now has a venue for expression but more importantly, an audience. And more and more dads are out there in cyberspace airing their opinions.
But it’s not just opinions where these sensational internet dads cease. These dads are demanding equality from a public who has been raised to view mom as the parental guru.
These new age dads seek not only the continued reverence of their masculinity, but also the recognition of anything they observe to be gender biased. This can get absurd quite rapidly until one day you’re on the internet, reading about a dad who’s offended by a new laundry detergent commercial that evokes a slight gender bias towards mom. Dads are writing about the right of a father in the hospital during labor. They are advocating the benefits of a stay-at-home-dad over a stay-at-home-mom. The topics they focus on are relevant and useful. It is the way in which they so forcefully try to seize the parental limelight that is objectionable.
Being a good father is a great quality. No one doubts that. The questions is, what purpose is all this fatherly promotion serving? They throw around colloquialisms like dandelion spores in the wind. They want their readers to believe that there are paradigms of fatherhood and the one new dads are entering is one of equality in the homestead, where dad is just as accountable as mom. It is “involved” fathering, that’s what these internet dads are engaging in according to them. They are, by publically sharing their parenting experiences, ushering in a new era of parenthood, one where the father is supposed to be praised for shouldering an equal burden of responsibility as the mother. What they neglect to highlight, is that this idea existed all along.
Involved fathering isn’t real. It is a term that’s been contrived by guilty, mostly white, liberal dads to relinquish some kind of inherent guilt harbored from what they believe is generations of uninvolved fathering. Maybe all these dads of questionable writing ability had similar childhoods. Childhoods in which their own fathers were severely uninvolved…you know, uninvolved – formerly known as deadbeat. Or maybe these internet dads are just jealous that mom is still the media-sponsored guru.
Being an involved father is not a new concept. It doesn’t fluctuate with the times. It isn’t a trend. But writing about it is. Touting oneself for your increased level of commitment and dedication is a new phenomenon.
Being an involved father is an idea as old as fatherhood itself and will never go out of style. But on the internet, being an involved father is…well, it’s so hot right now!