The increase in blogs aimed at men reflects an increased push for conversations surrounding men’s health issues, from Samuel L. Jackson helping with the One For The Boys campaign to raise awareness about men’s cancer to The Huffington Post’s month long Building Modern Men campaign focusing on the pressures surrounding male identity, and awareness of the epidemic of suicide. ‘Daddy bloggers’ are another string to this bow, and a way online communities are being used to encourage conversations with and around men.
While Mum blogs continue to be vital and popular sources of information, advice and stories, the number of Dad’s who turn to the online world for advice is rising. In fact in 2015, Daddit, had more than 34,000 subscribers, almost twice that of Mommit (Reddit’s site for Mums). Currently that has risen to 63,008 for Daddit, while Mommit has 27,128 readers. Further, research by Google reveals that 80% of millennial Dads have turned to videos on YouTube specifically for guidance on key parenting topics. There is a wealth of opportunity to share advice about parenting, and millennial Dads are becoming more and more likely to turn to online sources for help, as well as offer it.
There is no ‘type’ for a Dad blogger, and the range of lifestyles – from working to single to two-father households – is reflected in the range of blogs out there. For Dad blogs the topics range across a variety of areas, including coping with parenting troubles, to funny anecdotes, to DIY projects. For instance one of the most popular posts on The Yorkshire Dad blog is a guide to building a sandpit. An entertaining and collaborative post where B&Q provided the material for the task, and with a beautiful permanent sandpit for the garden as the result. This is an example of another use of the Dad blog, as with all Influencers the opportunity for collaborations to help create great content is widespread and brands are beginning to sit up and take notice. The most obvious of which is Dove Men+Care, who have focused on YouTube in their marketing strategy. For instance in 2015 when they focused on “First Fatherhood Moments,” showing heartwarming YouTube footage of men finding out that they were about to become fathers:
A popular Dad blog in the UK is The Dad Network, a community of Dads both online and offline. Started by Al Ferguson, The Dad Network combines a personal blog with an ever-growing community of Dads. It hosts a variety of content focused on parenting from the fatherhood perspective. The blog also includes social media groups and posts, further encouraging conversation – a great resource for new Dads. In fact, in an interview for The Baby Box Co. Ferguson stated that his most trusted resource was:
‘The Dad Network’s private Facebook group for dads. It’s a remarkable resource where hundreds of dads from around the globe support, encourage, joke and advise each other. What could be more valuable to a dad than learning from other dads?! It really is a great resource to me and the other members.’
The growth of father’s blogging online, supported by a move against expectations surrounding household roles, is explored in John Adams’ book A modern father (… and dad blogger). The book follows blogging on DadBlogUK and explores life as a stay-at-home Dad. Adams’ blog, in November 2016 awarded the Best UK Dad Blog at the Vuelio blog awards, focuses on a variety of topics ranging from lifestyle and cars to family life and men’s issues. This means his content can range from thoughtful discussions on parenting to practical advice about your electricity supplier and family finances.
Following his blogging about fatherhood, Adams has also become a spokesperson in the media, appearing on Sky News, The Times, BBC Breakfast and taking part in discussing the Fatherhood Penalty on both BBC Breakfast and Radio 4’s Today Programme as well as taking part in a debate on Channel 4 about proposals to increase paternity pay. Blogging has proven to be a useful platform for challenging parenting and gender norms for new parents, and Dad bloggers are prominent advocates for change. Such as the perception that stay-at-home-Dads would rather be working, in fact in a lot of cases the reverse is true. A 2008 survey by CareerBuilder.com found that more than a third of working dads (37%) would leave their job if their spouse or significant other’s income could comfortably support the entire family.
In a recent article for The Washington Post on being a stay-at-home-Dad, Billy Doidge Kilgore describes how a temporary arrangement of caring for their 4-month-old son while he was unemployed became permanent after ‘a signal in my gut that told me I was good at caring for him’. Kilgore explains that he does worry ‘how other men will view me’, but despite this worry Kilgore still blogs about his parental experiences on his blog Wrap Daddy. He knows that ‘many will project their insecurities on me. I’ve done the same’, but his blog is a joyful read on the ups and downs of fatherhood with insights into the experience of a stay-at-home-Dad.
This exploration of the idea of fatherhood differs from the prevalent idea surrounding Dad bloggers which are ‘Dad Hacks’, fun, entertaining and slightly ingenious methods – often using typically ‘masculine’ objects – to make a parenting job that little bit easier. Such as using string to pull a swing from the comfort of your sun chair and beer, cardboard on the stairs for a make-shift slide, video game controllers that are not plugged in for more gaming hours and turning chores into games. While these ‘Dad Hacks’ are entertaining, they are also still playing to the bumbling father stereotype, and it is clear that there is more to this blogging phenomenon among new fathers. It is not simply a humorous look at the stereotypical ‘struggling Dad’, but a sharing of fatherhood experiences, the funny and the not-so-funny.
This article from the Huffington Post explores the mental health of new fathers, and the difficulties in approaching this issue. Research from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) found that in 2015 one in three new fathers (38%) are concerned about their mental health. Many experts worry about the stigma that surrounds the emotional stress of new parenthood and the limited channels currently available for new fathers to seek help, and reading about other similar parental experiences can be extremely reassuring.
In a world where nearly every uncertainty is Googled (and in fact Google has become a verb), the answers on the other side of the search engine are incredibly important. Advice from people in the same position is a fantastic resource and a great use of blogging and social media platforms. For busy new parents, having this resource and support at the click of a button is a great reminder of what the world of blogging can achieve this Father’s Day.