Today’s Dads Can Help Close the “Diaper Gap”

Today we have a guest blogger–Vincent DiCaro of the National Fatherhood Initiative

If you have any doubts as to how “involved” dads are in the world of diapers, just ask Huggies what they think.

Huggies, the founding sponsor of the National Diaper Bank Network, unleashed a torrent of complaints from dads in response to its current advertising campaign. Without rehashing the entire incident here, the ads seemed to imply that fathers are incompetent diaper changers; the online community of dads responded; and to its great credit, Huggies listened and made changes to the campaign, which now suggests that dads, just like moms, care about the quality of the diapers they put on their children.

Why is this story relevant to the movement to get diapers into the hands of needy families?  Because it is critical that half the population of parents – dads – are called upon to help fight this fight.

There is a temptation when addressing an issue of concern to infants and toddlers to think of it as a “moms issue.” Assuredly — and we at National Fatherhood Initiative know this from 18 years of experience — it is often easier to get mothers engaged in these sorts of movements. But put another way, it is hard but very rewarding work to get dads engaged, too.

The involvement of dads communicates something very powerful about the importance of an issue. The forces that suggest that dads are “less involved” are the same forces that suggest that when they are involved, you should really pay attention.

And frankly, we are relying on outdated information in assessing the kind of parenting practices that are taking place in homes today. For example, marketers rely on the statistic that 85% of family purchasing decisions are made my moms. The problem is that no one knows where that statistic came from. More recent research — which is just starting to be used — suggests that dads, at a minimum, share in most family purchases and are in the lead on many. This indicates that dads are much more involved in what happens in the home than they were even 10 years ago.

To this point, most of the dads I know in the 25-35 age range (myself included) change just as many diapers and spend just as much time with their children as their wives do.

So, how do we get dads engaged in the mission of closing the diaper gap? First, we have to tell them that they are welcome. Dads often feel that certain territories are “mom only” places and they best keep out. Let’s avoid that. Second, you have to call dads out as dads. If you say, “calling all parents” dads will just assume it is meant for moms. Let’s avoid that, too. Finally, bring partners on board that are not the “usual suspects.” If all of the sponsors and organizational partners are ones that only moms identify with, dads will not feel as though “this is for them.” Get distinctly male entities involved, and that will communicate something powerful to the dads out there.

It won’t be easy, but it will certainly be worth it. When dads are involved, everyone wins – dads, moms, and especially kids.

Vincent DiCaro
Vice President, Development and Communication
National Fatherhood Initiative
20410 Observation Drive
Suite 107
Germantown, MD 20876
Phone: 240-912-1270
Fax: 301-948-4325
Email: vdicaro@fatherhood.orgWebsite: http://www.fatherhood.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nationalfatherhoodinitiative
Blog: http://thefatherfactor.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/thefatherfactor
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One Response to Today’s Dads Can Help Close the “Diaper Gap”

  1. Michael says:

    There are many more companies pitching products to moms… ‘Choosy moms choose Jif’ (peanut butter) ; Paediatrician recommended, and used by moms… ‘ (children’s tylenol); ‘Message to moms’ (Kix cereal); and many others that specifically state ‘moms’ or insinuate that kids are a moms world.

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