Friday, January 23, 2015

Should We Trust Similac's "The Mother'Hood"?

If any of you frequent parenting blogs, Facebook groups, or classes, you no doubt saw a link to Similac’s new video “The Mother’Hood”. Trust me- please watch…

I laughed (and cried) watching this video, because it is right on. My favorite line:
“Drug-free pool birth, dolphin assisted”.

In my 51 weeks of parenting so far (yes, my little guy will be 1 year old next week!), I have found the following issues to be HOT and often full of judgment in my circle of parenting groups:

  • Feeding- the early months (breastfeeding vs. formula feeding- or both!)
  • Feeding- the later months (purees vs. baby led weaning; organic food vs. regular food; how and when you introduced solid food)
  • Vaccination 
  • Stay at home vs. parents who work outside the home (and many parents, fall into both camps depending on the day!)
  • Car seats (how long you stay rear-facing; whether you use them on planes)
  • Cloth vs. disposable diapers (and other decisions which impact the environment)
  • Sleep practices (cribs vs. co-sleeping, crib bumpers, sleep training)
  • The type of childcare you select (day care center, in-home daycare, nanny, au pair) 

The list could go on and on….and these are just the hot topics I’ve found in the infant world!

The Mother’Hood Message: Why Does It Help?

The reality is that new parents can often feel very isolated and judged. This has many public health implications, especially for women at risk for postpartum depression. So for that reason, I like the primary message of the campaign which is that we should focus on the things that unite us, not divide us. At the end of the video, we read:

“No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first”.

And although the “cliques” (e.g., the bottle feeding group, the breast feeding group) are meant to show our separations…I also think it can mean that you will find others to spend time with who have a similar approach to parenthood that is compatible with yours. And that is reassuring.

This video is part of a larger campaign from Similac called “The Sisterhood of Motherhood”. The tag line for the campaign is, “Where moms get encouragement, not judgment”.

Can We Trust This Message From a Formula Company?

When I watched the video, I thought to myself- “makes sense this comes from Similac, their customers know a thing or two about being judged”. As I have previously written, it concerns me that public health has not found an effective way to promote breastfeeding without stigmatizing formula feeding.

So I was a little surprised to see (in social media and news article comments) that many viewers liked the video until they realized it came from Similac. Some expressed feelings that the message was less genuine since Similac stands to benefit financially when there is less public stigma about formula-feeding. One commenter wrote, “I was all for this, until I found out that it was created by Similac”.

Tell Me What You Think:

  • Does the fact that the video comes from a formula company make the message less meaningful or genuine? 
  • Why or why not?

And Can We Trust A Message That Forgot About Dads?

I was really excited to see Dads in the video! They were baby wearing and caring for their kids- it was great. They were even included in the tag line “No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first”…but in the next screenshot, we find out they were excluded from the campaign overall: “The Sisterhood of Motherhood”.

Many online commenters focused on this exclusion. Several asked, “Why not call it “The Parent’Hood”.

In my opinion, this is an unfortunate miss in an otherwise funny, relevant, and moving video. Why include Dads in the video just to exclude them at the end? What about families that have two fathers or a father who serves as the primary caregiver?

Tell Me What You Think:

  • Was the video and overall message ruined for you because fathers were excluded? 
  • Why do you think that the video and campaign developers made that decision? 
  • Do you think they regret it now?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Leah. I loved your commentary on this. I agree on principle about leaving out fathers from the overall campaign, but I don't ever hear a single thing about "daddy wars," whereas "mommy wars" (the phrase as well as the actual concept in practice) especially regarding formula v. breastfeeding, seems to be everywhere, at least to this new mom! Like so many other parenting double standards, fathers aren't guilted or shamed one way or the other (especially not by other fathers, I imagine), so maybe Similac didn't feel the need to jump in and defend formula feeding dads, especially if they're not the ones selecting and purchasing Similac formula... although maybe changing the language from "Motherhood to "Parenthood" would be an improvement in involving fathers more as stakeholders and decision makers for these types of family issues. By including fathers in (what I feel like is) an afterthought, Similac is just kind of perpetuating the traditional roles and beliefs and ultimately, mommy wars. This video didn't go viral because men were sharing it.