Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Made Their Buildings Fall Down?

The dining room table at Mimi’s house was covered with plastic bags, towels, soap, toothbrushes.

“Tell Mommy what we’re doing, Graham,” Mimi prompted.

“Mommy, there are people in Haiti and their houses and buildings fell down. They lost their toothbrushes and their towels,” he explained, the thought clearly processing in his head while the words fell out of his mouth.

“What made their buildings fall down?” he tried to remember out loud, interrupting himself.

“An earthquake,” Mimi reminded.

He asked if there were little boys in Haiti and my heart skipped a beat. Mimi answered simply, yes. His little mind continued to ponder. What exactly? We can only guess. But the pondering - a glimpse for me that my little man has altruism inside there, empathy.

Then, while putting his shoes on: “But mommy, who’s going to help them build their buildings and their houses?”

Who, indeed. I imagined my boy as a man, hand outstretched, hammer ready. He is young, but he is able. He speaks in ‘wants’ but inherently knows ‘needs.’ We all do – survival instincts.

For now, and with Mimi’s gentle guidance, he’s filling plastic bags with basics.

But he’s filling me with pride.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Attempting to Stop the Shiny Penny from Jumping to Conclusions

Hubby Hawks is a research subject. Or, he should be. Watching him father, I feel as though I am watching a major generational shift taking place in my own home. I’m watching a trend gathering in front of my face. You know that term “The Greatest Generation?” Well, I believe he is part of the greatest generation of fatherhood to date.

Let me explain…

My husband is helpful. Yesterday, I bragged to my colleague in the office that the night before I had come home to enchiladas in the oven. Yes, my husband cooks. He changes diapers. He bathes our children. He plays and reads stories. He packs lunches and backpacks.

I know. I’m livin’ the dream. But let me clarify. When I say he’s helpful, it’s not that he’s helping me per se. He’s helping his children. Because he is their father. He is parenting.

I do all of those things too. (Although for some reason I find giving baths so tiring.) But I am no Betty Draper, thank God. (Okay, and I am a horrible cook. Are you happy now?)

That colleague I mentioned above has a different parenting experience. In her household, some of the antiquated and stereotypical gender roles are still evident. Some. At least, enough for her to be in awe of my enchiladas in the oven.

The Cassandra New Family Report of 2009 underscored the shift to this new involved dad. It showed that Gen X and Y dads don’t see staying at home with the kids as demeaning. In fact, 40% of Gen Y dads believe themselves to be the primary caretaker of the children. When asked how they would choose to spend a free afternoon, they said they would want to be with their children. Moms said they would choose to have alone time.

This is all very exciting. But the research is also giving people permission to draw assumptions… jump to conclusions. Some think the daddy blogger will become the new marketing influencer, the “new mommy blogger.” I’m not convinced. Research shows dads just don’t communicate in the same ways we do. I’ve talked about this before, but maybe you weren’t reading here then. Dads who are changing diapers aren’t dictating what diapers to buy. They aren’t telling each other why they choose said diaper brand, or what that diaper brand is currently doing to green its business practices. They aren’t forging blogging communities and networks to find each other and have these conversations about where parenting and products intersect like moms are. Okay, okay, some dads are. SOME. Not enough to make a statistically significant difference. And that is the point.

And yes, I am fully aware that we have recently entered for the first time ever that point in which there are as many men as women in the workforce. And that the economic downturn forced more men to stay at home with the kids. But getting laid off doesn’t mean those dads were rushing home to start blogging about whether their kids’ chocolate milk should be organic. If I was a dad who was laid off in 2009 and I knew that some marketers equate my loss of a job to my being now part of a rising trend of “daddy bloggers” oh I would be pissed.

How could marketers be so tied to gender stereotypes that they think just because dads today are more involved, more hands on, more helpful in the household (or God forbid because they have lost a job) that they must also now be the same kind of consumer as moms are, having the same conversations in the same places?

Some marketers are too quick to jump on the daddy blogger bandwagon. I consider it part of the shiny penny syndrome that is rampant in this business. With every calendar rotation, the talk naturally shifts to what’s going to be the new trend? What’s going to be the new in thing for our business, to keep the trade media and our competitors talking about us, guessing our next move?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. My husband is not living his father’s fatherhood. But he is also not living my motherhood. And I can assure you he will never blog, tweet, or status-post. And if he does, it’s not going to involve any mention of diapers or organic chocolate milk.

That said, I do believe there is another type of blogger who will start to add volume to the mommy blogger’s voice this year and over the next few years, and I’ll share more on that in my next post.

(Ooooh, my first blog cliffhanger! Are you excited?)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's Reader Appreciation Day!

What? It's a new year?! And I haven't posted yet in this entire year?! Well, please forgive me. I'll be back with some random diatribe soon, but in the meantime, thank you dear reader for coming back and visiting us here in the Hawks Nest. Your visits are the bright spots in our days. So on behalf of the Hawklets, thank you!