Is Dad-Shaming A Thing?

Daniel Craig Dad Shamed

A new survey in the US finds most dads feel they’ve been criticised by those close to them for the way they go about parenting. So, is Dad-shaming a thing?

A couple of years back a survey by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan, US, of 475 mothers with children up to the age of five found that more than two-thirds of them felt “judged” for their parenting skills, mostly by those close to them.

The term “mum-shaming” emerged from the findings, describing the criticism that the mothers surveyed felt like they experienced when – usually – family members offered advice or observations to them about their parenting on various matters from discipline to nutrition.

Now for the first time, the same organisation has completed a similar survey of fathers and guess what, a majority of them also feel they are also criticised for their parenting. Of the 713 fathers with at least one child 0-13 years who were surveyed nationally, 52 per cent said that someone else had been critical of their parenting methods. 

It appears dad-shaming joins mum-shaming as a ‘thing’ and even James Bond himself cops it.

In the case of dads, 44 per cent of the respondents said most of the criticism came from the other parent, with 24 per cent of it from grandparents. Discipline was the most common cause of being disparaged (67 per cent of fathers), with CS Mott noting that coming up with a consistent framework for discipline, the age at which a child should be expected to follow rules, or differences about the appropriate consequences for misbehaviour, are all common areas of disagreement between parents.

For dads, two other areas of criticism – being too rough (32 per cent of dads) and not paying attention (32 per cent) – show how parenting styles still differ significantly between mothers and fathers. The fact dads engage in more physical play with their children often leads to criticism from others that they’re not doing enough to protect their child from injury. 

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Similarly, criticism about not paying enough attention to the child plays to that classic cliché that dads turn a blind eye to certain things kids do (like eating the dog’s food, or drawing on the walls), while others think they should provide closer supervision. The “ahh, they’re fine, it’s just a bit of dirt” theory of dadding, in other words.

Interestingly, half of the fathers in the survey said they had made a change in their parenting methods as a result of criticism. Forty percent of fathers said that dad-shaming prompted them to seek out information or advice on the topic. 

More worryingly, over one-quarter of fathers in the poll said that criticism had made them feel less confident in their parenting, and one in five fathers said that criticism made them want to be less involved as a parent. One in 20 fathers also said the professionals they interact with in relation to their children – such as teachers and health care professionals – are dismissive of their parental role, assuming they don’t know essential information about their kids. 

All in all, dad-shaming is real, and it can be damaging if it results in a father feeling less engaged, or less willing to engage, in parenting and parenting decisions. Something to think about next time you want to tell your husband/son/son-in-law why he’s doing it all wrong…More information on the survey can be found here.

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