In a recent article at the blog PhD in Parenting, Annie asks, “Why Always the Mother?” She was referring to a recent study that linked mothers working outside the home with childhood obesity, but the same question struck me as I started to see the latest Participaction TV ads.
The ads, called “Think Again” each feature a mother confidently proclaiming that her child gets enough physical activity. In the first one, the mother announces, “My Justin swims at the community centre on weekends. Of course he’s active enough!” In response, she’s drenched with water splashed from offstage and the line appears: “Think Again. Fact is, kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Every Day.” You can see all three ads here.
I don’t have a problem with encouraging parents to have their kids lead more active lifestyles, although I think constructive suggestions might be better than parent-shaming, especially when parents from lower-class backgrounds and single parents might have economic and time barriers to enrolling kids in organized physical activity.
But why always the mom? They picked racially diverse moms for the ads, but couldn’t have thrown in a dad somewhere? Is it not expected that dads, including in single-parent or same-sex households, would be taking some part in taking the kids to the park or to skating practice? It would be nice if, as in the study referenced by Annie, women weren’t seen as the only ones with responsibility for their children’s physical health.