TV's 'Dimwit Dads' Cliche Gives Fathers a Bad Name

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The repeated stereotyping of dads as lazy or stupid on TV shows, advertisements and in books has been criticized by a new survey. Online parents group, Netmums, quizzed 2,000 people, and 9 out of 10 said the portrayal of dads was flawed.

Almost half of parents polled slammed books, advertisements and children’s TV shows like Peppa Pig, The Simpsons and the Flintstones, which show dads as lazy or stupid.

Almost a third of parents, 28 percent, claim it is “a very subtle form of discrimination against dads.”

A further 18 percent were more strident, saying it makes children believe dads are “useless” from an early age and that there would be an “outcry” if it was done against moms.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard says, “It’s never been harder to be a father—but good dads have never been more needed by their families. So it seems perverse we are telling men to step up and be involved, while running them down in the media. The type of jokes aimed at dads would be banned if they were aimed at women, ethnic minorities or religious groups."

Freegard says some people claim it’s "just a joke," but there’s nothing amusing about taking away good role models for young boys: “Academic studies show children with involved fathers do far better at school, have a much lower chance of getting involved in crime and have better mental health, so we should be celebrating and encouraging what dads do well.”

An editorial in The Times welcomed the survey. The newspaper said the cultural image of the hapless dad “has gone from gag to cliché to ubiquitous slur." It added, “Young boys should be able to grow up in a world that acknowledges there are alternatives available to them other than being a bad parent or a bad joke.”

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