Ruminations by Belkin, Matlack, 8BitDad

Thursday, Huffington Post’s Lisa Belkin discussed trends in parenting that will show up (again) in 2013.

And naturally, Lisa Belkin did the Lisa Belkin thing and talked a whole lot about moms, and then begrudgingly admitted that dads will indeed still exist in 2013, but only because she predicted it in prior years.

The Good Men Project’s Tom Matlack thought that Belkin’s list looked awfully dad-sparse, and exchanged some tweets with Belkin. Soon enough, the two were e-mailing back and forth on the topic. A love connection was made. Matlack even asked if Belkin would write a list for GMP about dads. Belkin declined. Ooh, burn.

Tweets by Belkin Matlack

Tweets by Belkin & Matlack

Matlack wrote a counterpoint to Belkin, titled, “20 Reasons Dads Matter,” and all points are true – things like “every kid (and adult) has a dad,” “dads care about abortion,” and “dads lose a child.” It was a good list, with each statement backed up by an article on The Good Men Project. But, unfortunately, I think it missed the point. While Belkin attacked widespread issues in the news (to varying degrees of success), Matlack strayed more toward the personal stories of individual men; stories that may not have seen the light of day if not for The Good Men Project. And before I need clarification – the stories on GMP are incredible and I’m glad that they do exist. They need to, and for this very reason.

First off, I’d like to say, just as Matlack did in his counterpoint, that I’ve got a lot of respect for Lisa Belkin. And I’ve also got a lot of respect for Tom Matlack. It’s like I’m watching my parents divorce all over again. Okay, not really. But c’mon, you two. Lisa, Tom, both of your lists are soft. Not wrong, not off-base. Just…soft. While Belkin’s trends aren’t necessarily off-base, it’s easy to see that, yes, “some mother will be shamed for the way she looks.” It’s easy to see that, yes, “there will be royal baby news.” God, snore, Lisa.

Matlack’s softballs were good – but they were softballs. Yes, “dads want to end rape.” Et cetera, et cetera. I’ve already mentioned more of Matlack’s points above.

The incongruency between Belkin’s softball stories and Matlack’s hyper-personal ones – well, we’re not talking the same game here. It’s like Belkin’s trying to make a list of the top 10 corporate chain restaurants in Los Angeles, and Matlack’s giving you a list of people he knows in the area that throw a mean backyard barbecue. Neither one’s wrong, but how do you meet in the middle?

Well, let’s make Belkin and Matlack kiss and make up here with some notable things that happened to dads in 2012 that we expect to continue into 2013:

1. Household brands will speak to fathers more than ever before

In 2012, we saw some good and bad dadvertising. We saw a Tide Stay at Home guy. We saw numerous dads spending time with kids. We saw one brand – Huggies – get it woefully wrong, but then contact dads directly (8BitDad included) in an attempt to get it right. After a couple of roundtables, Huggies did a better job of not biting the hand that may be feeding them more and more in 2013.

Nominate a Dad

Bad idea, Huggies.

Most telling, though, we saw a brand – Mattel – keep dads in mind while creating their new Barbie line. Barbie, with dad in mind.

Brands are listening, and the ad agencies that draw a straight line between the products and the money are listening too. In 2013, we’ll see more dads in commercials, cleaning. And not bumbling around like fools, waiting for mom to get home and wipe up the mess; we’re going to see dads cleaning.

2. The media will talk about dads too

New YorkerThe prevalence of dad in the home was punctuated by the cover of The New Yorker in May. And though it came and went, the sentiment remains – dads are here, dads are comfortable, and dads are out in public with the kids.

Media outlets, big and small found ways to give dads a broader voice. Why, even added a Dad section in 2012. Plenty of other lifestyle news sources (including The Huffington Post) have increased the content by and about fathers. Why, Lisa Belkin even talked about dads.

Babble had run a successful “Top 50 Dad Bloggers” list in 2011, not even having enough room for all of the excellent entries. And in fact, the 2012 list reads differently than 2011’s, which should tell you that there are a lot of great dad voices that the media is turning to, and it’s not just the same five men that are always in the limelight. In 2013, we can expect a whole new list.

3. Father’s Rights and roles will be big around the world

It’d be narrow-minded of us to think that we’re the only country in the world actively talking about fatherhood. Around the world, fathers are struggling with different issues, and their roles, responsibilities and rights are being redefined.

The United Kingdom had plenty of stories about fatherhood in 2012; they got TV shows about dads, midwife manuals were rewritten with dads in mind, and most recently, divorced dads had some of their rights reclarified.

In 2012, Argentina’s Marriage Equality Act established their first gay dads. Australia delved into what they expect of involved fathers. Zimbabwe faced a paternity (and paternity testing) problem.

In 2013, more countries will follow the lead. There will be international conversations about fatherhood, and those conversations will lead to new laws about paternity, custody and responsibility.

4. More involved dads on television and in music

Guys With KidsNBC may have snubbed dads when it came to their Olympics deal with Procter & Gamble, but they ran us ragged with commercials for their show, “Guys With Kids.”

In 2012, while Nickelodeon launched the universally-disliked NickMom, they also launched “See Dad Run” (as in run the household, not run away from it), an original show starring Scott Baio as an actor-turned-stay-at-home-dad.

In 2012, we also saw ABC’s “Baby Daddy,” which also met mixed (mostly unfavorable) reviews.

For extra points, in 2012, the tween show “iCarly” concluded with a visit from Carly’s father, who hadn’t been on the show previously.

If you’re into rap music, 2012 saw both Jay-Z and Nas writing songs about their daughters.

So in 2013, we expect this to continue – more shows about fathers (hopefully with an increase in quality). More songs about fathers. More media about fathers.

5. More dads will stay home from work “just because”

A lot of fathers were hit hard with the recession a couple of years back, but overwhelmingly, more dads were staying home from work “just because.”

This led to dads packing a whole lot of school lunches, to the surprise and ire of market research companies.

In 2013, more dads will be home. More dads will be packing lunches. More companies will take note, and begrudgingly give dads a little credit. Lisa Belkin will write an article saying dads can’t have it all. Tom Matlack will write an article saying dads can have it all.

6. Science will be even more interested in fathers

It’s no coincidence that one of our largest sections here is on studies. In 2012, we found out a lot about the science of dads.

Did you know that co-sleeping lowers testosterone in new dads?

Did you know that adoptive dads can get postpartum depression?

Did you know that dads have a biological clock?

Did you know that fathers teach their kids persistence?

Fail Sperm

And then there’s the fail sperm. Sometimes the body can’t hit F5.

Well, it’s true. And that’s just recently. In 2013, fathers will go under the microscope even more, and we’re going to find out some pretty wild stuff about how fathers and their children are linked.


So you see, Lisa Belkin and Tom Matlack had it right, but they were soft. I hope you clicked around the stories above to see the real reasons why dads mattered (and not just in our opinion) in 2012 – and will continue to do so in 2013.