Why Do We Say “Moms” When We Mean “Parents”?













I was minding my business the other day, watching TV, when I came across what I thought was a funny (albeit stupid) commercial:

Haha, “typical dad” can’t get away from his power tools and uses them to drill holes in the chicken. Funny. But then the tagline gave me serious pause. “Ragu – Mom’s Favorite For A Reason.”

Um. Wait a minute. The whole commercial was about a dad (and the mom, but primarily about the dad) getting his kids to eat dinner and then you close with that tagline. Does anyone else see what’s wrong with this?

And it’s not just Ragu. It’s everyone.

I bought some applesauce the other day and it said, “Trusted by Moms since 1912.” So Dads don’t trust it? What are we really saying when we exclude fathers from the “parenting equation”?

I used to fall for that type of marketing though. It used to make me feel good like, “Heck yeah, I buy only the best for my family.” But then I realized it was a problem that my husband didn’t know what type of anything I bought for the family. He didn’t know whether we used Luvs or Huggies; Minute Maid juice versus Ocean Spray; Motrin or Tylenol. He didn’t keep track of how many diapers we had or whether the kids had their annual appointments for their well-baby check-ups.

To be sure, there was a lot of stuff my husband did do around the house. But there was a lot he didn’t even realize was a task to be done. As I wrote on the YML Facebook page the other day, When did we vote that I would be the one “in charge of stuff”? Can Mama get a recount? 

Because I didn’t know I signed up to be in charge of everything. I really didn’t. We just kind of fell into these roles and we fell even harder when I decided to become a work-at-home mom. Geez, oh man.

But society conditions us to think that caring for the family (and by extension, buying products for the household and making appointments and preparing dinner) is a woman’s job. Men, if they’re in the house, are supposed to make money. And that’s it. Even if the woman is making money as well, all that other stuff is still her domain.

Up until about a week ago, I felt bad that the house wasn’t always clean when my husband got home at 5:30. After all, I had been home all day, right? But I had to remind myself that 1) he lived here too and has functioning arms and hands to tackle the mess 2) these are his kids too who make endless messes all day long and 3) just because I work at home doesn’t mean I should be working on the home while I’m here.

We need to push for more father involvement. Stop saying “Moms” when we mean “parents.” Parenting magazine might as well be called Moms Monthly. Dads get high fives and cookies for simply bringing home a paycheck when a mom doing the same thing gets criticized for being too ambitious. And we wonder why moms are stressed out and anxious for more help around the home, why men don’t just jump in and do things unless they are specifically asked. We wonder why the “Mommy Wars” exist but there is no comparable war between fathers. (As Jen pointed out in her post, when was the last time you heard the phrase “working dad”?)

Today’s fathers are much more involved than their fathers (remember when most of them weren’t even allowed in the delivery room?), but I still feel like we have a long, long way to go before there’s equality between the two parents. Of course, I don’t think we’ll ever get to the point where things are 50/50 and stay that way forever. I understand there’s a natural ebb and flow to family life and at times Mom puts in more effort and at times Dad puts in more effort.

But when society treats fathers as optional or invisible beyond what they provide financially, is it any wonder that Dad isn’t hopping up off the couch trying to see what needs to be done around the house? Don’t get me wrong – there are some outstanding dads out there who go above and beyond to provide their families both financially and emotionally. They’re on top of things. But they are viewed as the exception, not the norm. And that bugs me.

What do you think, ladies? 


  1. Hmmm-hmmm. I can’t hear how often I hear how wonderful my husband is when he happens to do something with the girls–if he goes to the store with both in tow, little old ladies crone over him for being such an involved father. And what do I get when I take them to the store? Dirty looks for being a young mom. So.not.fair.

  2. Auntieof2 says:

    You know what they say, your experiences shape your expectations. Having had a dad that cooks, cleans, does the laundry, etc., I’m going to expect that my boyfriend/fiancée/husband do the same from day one, especially cook. My dad said to me: “You wanna eat? You better learn how to cook then.” My husband won’t have to cook every night, but I’d like to go 50/50.

    Which leads me to my point: dads aren’t EXPECTED to help out. Again, experiences and expectations. We have to demand more for dads. Less stressed moms lead to better relationships, better marriages. Remember that saying: if Mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.

  3. This isusue has bothered me for a long time. It is sad that society treats fathers like accessories. I have a very involved husband/father. Just this morning I woke up to him cleaning the kitchen. Even with all that I still feel like I carry most of the “mother load”. Like you sad it should not be totally up to me to keep the diaper count.

  4. My husband stayed home with the kids during most of their childhood. The kids’ school was small, and we had four kids in it. Every teacher knew us, and everyone there knew that Jonathan stayed home.

    But whenever a note went home, it was always to “Mom”. Get your mom to make cookies, get your mom to sign this note, invite your mom to our play. Because dads don’t count, right?

    Gee, it’s no wonder that so many boys grow up not even thinking about being responsible for their own kids and households!

  5. It’s so funny that I’m reading this post today. I was looking at a commercial for Wisk detergent earlier this morning and it showed generations of moms using Wisk and not dads. I remember thinking ‘So men don’t use laundry detergent?’ I totally agree with ur post

  6. I agree, Tara. I get that companies understand that women have buying power, but there should be more of a balance in their marketing. The trouble with these imposed gender roles and expectations is that when a household dynamic changes, i.e. mom works and dad stays home, both parties are left unsure of how to manage the change. That’s why it’s so important for moms/dads/husbands/wives to define for themselves how their household, marriage, and family will be run. Society (and marketing) always gets it wrong!