A UK dad’s T-shirt with writing that said “Dads don’t babysit. It’s called parenting” has become an international online conversation about how fathers are perceived. According to ABC News, Al Ferguson of Kent has posted a picture of himself in his T-shirt on Facebook numerous times.
But for some reason, his post last week went viral and brought him thousands of “likes” and hundreds of personal comments.
Ferguson is happy for the spotlight because he has a mission to wipe out negative stereotypes about fathers on his blog, The Dad Network.
“It’s all about parental equality really,” he explained. “I’m a really big advocate for moms and they’re wonderful but I think dads get a raw deal. I just want us all to be perceived the same.”
Ferguson, who is 28, says he has been a target of parenting stereotypes, such as the time when someone mistook his being with his children for his taking the day off from his job.
“And I’m thinking, ‘Well no, I’m a stay-at-home dad and I look after my family.’ And it’s the assumption that I’m looking to stop,” he added.
He says he is happy to be a father, and he proudly wears his T-shirt, designed by the National At-Home Dad Network, as a lighthearted way to change people’s perceptions.
“The best thing is watching them grow and develop and change and become little people,” he said, “and the best part is that you have influence over that.”
Clint Edwards, writing for Babble, says he has seen the T-shirt popping up on social media over the past few days, and it reminded him of the summer of 2013.
That was the year his wife took an internship and he stopped his work to stay home with his children. He acknowledged that he learned much about parenting. A full-time caregiver is several jobs rolled into one, including time manager, negotiator, chauffeur, maid, cook, and countless more, he explained.
But often, when he was out with his children, people made comments that were veiled ways of saying, “You are doing your wife’s job.” The message was that caring for children is for mothers only and that Dad should be bringing home the check.
Comments on the Reddit post of Ferguson’s shirt received comments that all had one theme. People who see fathers with their children think the dads are doing a tremendous favor for their wives. Edwards says the fathers are only “fulfilling one-half of a partnership.”
In an interview with Lauren Swanson for the Revelist, Ferguson says he is a proud feminist. He hopes that his conversation about fatherhood will help in the battle to achieve gender equality.
Ferguson’s post of his shirt on Imgur has been viewed 3,900,000 times, reports Alexie Summer for the Parent Herald. The Pew Research Center found in a 2014 study that the number of stay-at-home fathers is increasing considerably, but the rate of men who are becoming primary caregivers is still only at 16%.