SALT LAKE CITY — Can commercials and TV shows portraying fathers as idiots have a negative effect in the home? Some counselors say they might, so dads should remember the impact they have on their families.
The ads are all over TV. There is the father who can't find socks he likes, so he makes a mess all over the floor. There's the dad who can't help his daughter with her homework, so he just stands over her shoulder looking confused. Then, in a commercial about hotdogs, a dad encourages his young son to fire up the chainsaw until his wife stops it.
Dads, the loveable oafs that they are, cause more problems than they can fix in many of these ads.
"As far as the commercials are concerned, I've seen them myself, and they're appalling," said Betty Owen, counseling clinical director at Jordan West Family Counseling.
She said the portrayal of fathers teaches children that men are inadequate.
"They are showing children that they don't have to respect their fathers," Owen said.
Over the past 15 years, she said she has noticed a deterioration of respect for fathers and speculates parents might be contributing to the problem.
She has seen cases where parents allow their kids to spend so much time online or playing video games that a disconnect forms between the parents and the children. When that happens, several other issues are formed.
"We often find a lot of hostility and actually some verbal abuse toward their parents," Owen said.
If fathers are portrayed as bumbling idiots on TV, experts say it's up to dads to prove those portrayals are wrong.
"You've got to make sure that you prove (to) your family and society differently, that you're not stupid, dumb or anything like that at all," said Frank Bedolla, president of Fathers and Families Coalitions of Utah.
Bedolla also said the roles of parents have shifted a bit in recent years. Men have learned they need to be more active in listening to their kids and put a great deal of emphasis on their role as the "provider" because that's how they were raised. He said if dads feel like they're not providing the kind of life they want to provide for their children, they may overcompensate.
"A lot of times, I have fathers that are providers and are really successful in life and have money," Bedolla said. "They want to buy their way into their child's heart. But, in reality, it's really difficult for them to do that."