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TV denigrates Dads, say parents

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December 4, 2023

Children’s perception of fatherhood is being damaged by TV shows, books and advertisements which show a ‘casual contempt’ for Dads, according to parenting website Netmums

The site polled 1,650 mothers and 500 fathers on their view of the ways in which fathers are depicted in the media. Ninety-three per cent said the portrayal of fathers as stupid and laz  in many TV shows, adverts and children’s books bore  little resemblance to their real contribution to family life. Almost half (46 per cent) said cartoons routinely portrayed fathers in a bad light, while more than a quarter (28 per cent) said such portrayals amounted to a “subtle form of discrimination against dads”.

Children’s TV shows singled out for criticism include Peppa Pig, The Simpsons and The Flintstones.

According to Netmums:

“…the discrimination continues into grown-up shows including My Family, Outnumbered and Shameless.”

Eighteen per cent of the survey respondents said such depictions made fathers seem “useless” and claimed there would be an outcry if mothers were depicted in a similar way.

A quarter cited the current divorce rate as a major threat to the role of fathers in family life.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: “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. Some people claim it’s ‘just a joke’ – but there’s nothing amusing about taking away good role models for young boys.

She added:

“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. With the current tough economic climate and UK’s long working hours culture, being an involved dad isn’t always easy so it’s great to see so many dads saying how much fatherhood has improved their lives. It takes two to make a baby and as the results of this study show, it’s increasingly taking two to raise a child. Whether dads are still with their partners or not, more men are realising families need fathers and are trying their best to be good dads.”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. JamesB says:

    Yeah, thinking about it, in Peppa Pig, it is always, “Silly Daddy!”, never “Silly Mummy!”. I agree with this article.

  2. Lukey says:

    Let’s be frank, if you are in TV and you want to depict a useless doofus then it is sensible to make that person a male – they have far fewer social rights in society when it comes to being labelled useless and you are not going to get into trouble with the PC brigade by dumping on a man – it’s hardly news is it ?

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