Children fare much better in life if they have a loving and involved father. They are better able to cope with setbacks, less likely to run away from home or have discipline problems in school, they are more likely to have high self-esteem, are less prone to depression and suicide. Boys have been shown to be less aggressive and girls less likely to engage in sex. So why then does television routinely denigrate Dad? Especially when audiences are turned-off by TV’s dismissive attitude toward fathers?
A new survey by Netmums, a UK-based parenting site, found that viewers are increasingly unhappy with “Homer Simpson Syndrome,” especially on programs aimed at children.
Survey respondents singled out characters like Daddy Pig on Peppa Pig (which airs on NickJr in the US), Fred Flintstone of The Flintstones (which can be seen on Boomerang), and Homer Simpson of The Simpsons.
Overwhelmingly, parents who participated in the survey (93%) said that the way fathers appear on television, as well as in books and advertisements, bears no relation to their real-life contribution to families.
More than half of respondents felt that society is becoming “more appreciative of how important a dad’s role is” and that fathers are “much closer to their kids than in the past,” while 90% of fathers felt they were “working harder than their own fathers to be a good parent.”
Yet this reality is still not reflected on the small screen, where dad is usually depicted as a fumbling, bumbling loser, completely disengaged, or absent altogether.
Instead of supporting the institution of family, and fatherhood in particular, fathers are routinely undermined on television — which ultimately undermines the family unit. Why should a child show respect for his father when television teaches him that dad is a dunce, unworthy of respect? Why should boys want to become loving and involved fathers themselves, when television teaches them they are superfluous?
Not all TV dads need to be Ward Cleaver or Cliff Huxtable — but maybe one or two here and there wouldn’t hurt?