There are a lot of people who shrug off media portrayals of dads as incompetent, stupid, child-like and generally unable to cope with their tasks as a parent. Heck, there are those that seem to believe it, or believe that it’s generally true, even if their husband or brother is quite a competent father. I understand the pervasive danger of media stereotypes, heck, of cultural stereotypes, so I try not to shrug things off quite so easily. Still, a sense of humor is okay and I admit that there are some parenting tasks that I’m just not very good at. So it goes.
Nonetheless, when a press release from Kontos Foods dropped into my mailbox, I did do a double-take. The subject was certainly eye-catching: Mother’s Day Recipes: Simple Enough Even Dad Can Prepare.
The message went on to explain:
Now I’m not so thin-skinned that I immediately took offense, but still, what PR firm would endorse their client sending out something like this?
To find out, I asked:
Hey, way to insult us Dads. Is this the intention of the campaign? You do know that most professional chefs are men, right? Somewhat in jest, but only somewhat…
And after it bouncing around inside the organization, I received a thoughtful and reasonable explanation from the head of marketing at Kontos Foods:
Thank you for your below note regarding our Kontos Foods Mothers’ Day Recipe Press Release.
Please understand that our intent in providing these recipes and information is to hopefully give dads, and kids, an opportunity to make some special dishes for moms on Mother’s Day; which we provided in a “tongue-and-cheek” manner with a wink. It is not our intent to offend anyone by providing this information this way, and I sincerely apologize if we offended you, or any other dads, in any way. Additionally, I do recognize that many professional chefs are men.
Please also understand that I take responsibility for this idea. The idea came to me from my fond memories of my siblings and I treating our mom to a special breakfast each Mother’s Day while we were growing up. By “special” I mean runny eggs, burnt toast and cold coffee, but my mom always ate every bite as if it came from a 5-start restaurant. My mom is gone now, but I remember each Mother’s Day fondly because of this.
I have continued this tradition in my house as an adult with my three children, and yes I help them in the kitchen. Using the stereotypical representation you reference I am in a way poking fun at myself, and I didn’t mean to take any well-meaning or culinary-enhanced dads down in the process; again all was intended in good fun. Again, thank you for your understanding and support of Kontos Foods.
Kontos Foods, Inc.
A quite reasonable response, I’d say, and I do have to admit that when I was growing up, it was indeed my Mum who did all the cooking and while she didn’t have much in the way of gourmet flair, we had solid, healthy and complete meals every day, something that’s doubtless helped me grow up into a healthy adult.
All is forgiven for your well-intentioned headline, but next time I encourage you to be a bit more wary of how your message might be interpreted by others, okay? Oh, and maybe for balance let’s see what you come up with for Father’s Day!