Not just moms, fathers go through 'dad shaming', too

One in five fathers who experienced "dad shaming" said it discouraged them from being more involved in day-to-day parenting.

By Christopher Bergland (Life)

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Published: Thu 13 Jun 2019, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Jun 2019, 10:50 PM

Although "mom shaming" has been openly discussed in public forums in recent years, until now, "dad shaming" has stayed under the radar. That said, a new poll, "Parenting Put-Downs: How Criticism Impacts Fathers," reports that over half of all fathers say they've been criticised for specific parenting choices such as play style, diet, and discipline.
The most recent National Poll on Children's Health showed that many fathers (43 per cent) believe the put-downs and criticism of their parenting style are often unfair.
"Even subtle forms of disparagement can undercut fathers' confidence or send the message that they are less important to their child's well-being," poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a statement. "While some fathers say criticism prompts them to seek more information about good parenting practices, too much disparagement may cause dads to feel demoralised about their parental role."
Among fathers who report being criticised for their parenting choices, about two thirds (67 per cent) said they were "dad shamed" about how they discipline their child, while 43 per cent said they'd been scolded about the types of food or beverages they gave their child.
According to this survey, about one third (32 per cent) of fathers who experienced "dad shaming" were criticised for being too rough or not paying enough attention to their kids. A few years ago, at a playground, a mother called me "irresponsible" for letting my child do some dare-devilish stunts without more supervision. This "dad shamer" started lecturing me about how dangerous it was to allow my six-year-old to climb too high on some rope-course apparatus and perform her well-practiced Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatics routine when she got to the top. I thought it was awe-inspiring; the shamer thought it was insane.
Without getting defensive, I explained to this hypercritical parent that letting my daughter "run wild" and take some risks was a conscious, educated decision based on anecdotal evidence and a study.
Challenge and risk, in particular during outdoor play, allows children to test the limits of their physical, intellectual and social development. Even though I grew up in Manhattan, my parents strongly encouraged their three kids (two girls and one boy) to explore the wilderness without much supervision (and often on horseback) when we moved out of town in the mid 1970s. I strive to raise my daughter the same way.
In a modern world, where helicopter parenting is often the norm, this freewheeling parental style would probably result in a chorus of put-downs along with mom and dad getting "called out" by other parents who think they know best.
One of the most discouraging aspects of the new Mott Poll Report (2019) about dad shaming is that for many fathers who said they felt shamed, the criticism made them less confident as a parent. One in five fathers who experienced "dad shaming" said it discouraged them from being more involved in day-to-day parenting.
"Fathers who are loving and engaged can have a positive impact on their children's development and well-being," Sarah Clark concluded. "Family members - especially the other parent - should be willing to acknowledge that different parenting styles are not necessarily incorrect or harmful."
- Psychology Today
Christopher Bergland is a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and public health advocate.

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