3 reasons to stop praising dads for doing what they're supposed to.

Because if moms aren't viewed as heroes for creating a ponytail or changing diapers, neither should dads.

Jackie is a mom of two living in Tampa. She's not a fan of the praise dads are getting lately for raising their kids.

"I know this is going to sound bitter, but all of the dad-worship stuff needs to stop," Jackie told me. "It seems like all a man needs to do is change a diaper or braid hair, and he's instantly a superstar."

She's probably not alone.


For every woman who swoons at seeing a photo like this, there is another one rolling her eyes wondering what the big deal is.

We all love seeing photos of dads with their kids ... right? Photo from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed, used with permission.

Where did all of this praise for dads come from? The Internet lost its collective mind over a recent Super Bowl commercial featuring dads doing their daughters' hair, so we know this phenomenon is real.

Maybe it's because people love seeing men with their babies. Maybe it's because our expectations for fathers have gotten so low that we're excited to see them doing anything with their children.

Regardless of the reasons, moms like Jackie aren't amused.

PLOT TWIST: Many dads don't want credit for doing dad stuff either.

Rick Brown is all smiles with one of his five daughters, Madison. Photo from Rick Brown, used with permission.

Meet Rick. He's a dad to five daughters and absolutely loves his girls to death.

One day while his wife was busy, Rick loaded up his girls into his car and took them to the local library to do some reading. Then things started to get strange. People kept staring at him as if he was an "exotic zoo animal." Finally, a woman stopped him to say how "amazing" it is that a dad was at the library with his girls.

Here's the thing about Rick and other dads like him: He's not interested in receiving compliments on how he does his daddy thing.

"I truly enjoy spending time with my daughters," Rick told me. "I don't think dads should get credit for being parents."

You know what? The dude's right.

With that, here are three simple takeaways regarding the recent dad-worship epidemic.

1. Making the ordinary extraordinary is, well, dumb.

Let's pretend that you like to brush your teeth before leaving the house every morning. (Actually, let's not pretend. That's probably something grown folks should be doing on the daily.)

Minty fresh breath, baby.

Now let's pretend that as you're strolling down the street, people stop you to share the following thoughts:

"Whoa! You brushed your teeth today?! You are amazing!"

"I wish everyone could be like you. Good oral hygiene is soooooo important!"

"You are such a role model. You make fresh breath cool!"

That would be weird, right?

It's normal to brush our teeth. It's not less weird for dudes to receive praise for doing the "normal" child-rearing tasks.

"I was once told that I must be a great dad because I hold my daughter so well," Jason, a dad to a 6-month-old daughter, told me.

What does that even mean? How do you respond to something like that?

GIF from "The Hangover."

We (dads) aren't bumbling buffoons. We know what we're doing.

But when men are seen as "great dads" just because we can hold babies without injuring them, we know that the fatherhood bar needs to be raised.

Which leads to the next point.

2. All of the daddy praise makes it harder for moms to be moms.

Whether we like it or not, the pressure to be a good mom is real. When we live in a world where dads can put videos like this online and are seen as geniuses, it leaves some moms frustrated.

"I struggle with parenting, like many women I know," Jackie said. "I feel like I always have to be perfect while dads can skate along by doing pretty much anything."

If we put our hearts and soul into something, we want to know that we're doing a good job. Motherhood is no different.

These ladies have a frustrating gig, and they want to be acknowledged for it. Melissa, a mom of three shared that exact sentiment:

"My husband can put my daughter in a lumpy ponytail, and he's a hero. If I did that, I'll be seen as the worst mom ever. Guess what? Sometimes I don't have the energy to style hair perfectly or create perfectly healthy meals. But I work just as hard being a parent as he does. Why can't society see that?"

Thankfully there's a pretty easy fix to the problem: equal praise for equal work.

If we're going to praise dads for completing tasks with or for their kids, we should praise moms just as much for doing the same thing. No exceptions.

Because let's be real: The next time a mom is viewed as a hero for creating a ponytail will be the first time.

3. The dad-worship thing needs to be everywhere before it goes away.

Wait ... what?

Stay with me.

There are a lot of articles celebrating fatherhood around here. But let's look at it a little differently.

Back in 1987, people celebrated the fact that Doug Williams was the first African-American quarterback to start (and win) a Super Bowl.

It was a really big deal.

The media was all over Doug Williams back in the day. Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images.

But it was a really big deal because we hadn't seen it before.

In 2016, there are many African-American quarterbacks in football, and we hardly blink an eye at them. Why? Because it's normal now.

There is good news for people who are growing weary of the daddy love on the Internet: This too shall pass.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, the only way to truly normalize good dads is to celebrate them.

Yeah, I said it.

Share them, talk about them, love them, and celebrate the hell out of these dudes when you see them.

When you see a dad going viral for something that a mom can do blindfolded, just smile knowing it signifies that we're one step closer to it becoming old news.

Eventually dads braiding hair and holding dance parties for our kids will be as newsworthy as brushing our teeth.

And quite frankly, that's the way it should be.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

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