Last night my wife and I loaded our kids into the van so that we could surprise my mom and brother at the airport on their return trip from a week’s vacation. Never to be without a treasure, my 2-year-old daughter, Sophie, asked if she could bring something along for the ride. My wife told her she could take one special toy with her. She chose the painted noodle necklace she and I made together last week during an impromptu craft session at the kitchen table. I couldn’t help be feel a little proud that my craft beat out her usual picks - an Abby Cadabby doll or her pair of plastic flower-rimmed sunglasses.
On the way to the airport, I spotted something upsetting. There was a billboard depicting a man and his son bouncing happily across a grassy knoll. Above them was a simple directive – Take time to be a dad today.
Maybe it was the fact that my daughter was sitting directly behind me playing with her cherished daddy-daughter necklace, but this billboard offended me.
The display gives the over-generalized message that fathers don’t spend enough time with their kids. And to make matters worse, the organization that commissioned the ad, fatherhood.gov, is government sponsored. My taxes went to a billboard announcing that I was insufficient in my role as a dad!
Maybe I’m blowing this a little out of proportion. I understanding that nuclear families aren’t exactly the norm these days, and many times it’s the male figure that’s absent. But nonetheless, maybe there’s a better way to facilitate father-engagement than erecting large sweeping statements on Rt 33 heading toward the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
It’s also surprising that a campaign of this nature hasn’t been faced with more opposition. Motherhood.gov doesn’t even exist, but if this fictional organization decided to promote a Take time to be a mom campaign, you can bet that the uproar would be earth-shaking.