At-home-dads and the movie The Incredibles 2: a missed opportunity

Instead, I was disappointed to mostly see outdated and stale stereotypes of working moms and at-home-dads recycled on the animated screen.

Here are 2 moments that rang true for working moms, along with 3 things they got definitely wrong about at-home-dads, and 1 major missed opportunity.

2 scenes that rang true for working moms:

  1. Taking a phone call from your kid (that he/she feels only Mom can handle) while in a crisis at work, and immediately switching to ‘Mom’ mode no matter what is happening around you at work. Except nowadays it’s a text of course.
  2. Missing ‘firsts.’ First moments that is. Helen isn’t there when her teen daughter has a lousy first date, and she isn’t around when her youngest starts exhibiting his superpowers. Never-mind that she’s out saving lives. It’s hard to miss your kids’ milestones, no matter what.

3 things they got wrong about at-home-dads.

And here’s the worst part about the things they got wrong. They resorted to outdated cliches and stereotypes — “Uh-oh what will happen if poor bumbling Dad is left all alone with the kids. However will he manage?”

  1. Bob is just so worn out by the trials and tribulations of watching the kids, that he falls asleep instead of watching the baby. Okay writers, here’s a clue: nobody would have believed the plot if the mom fell asleep knowing if she didn’t stay awake the baby could get into danger. And nobody should believe it about the dad character either. No matter how tired he was, he would have stayed awake. His baby’s safety depended on it. Duh.
  2. The “Mr. Mom” stereotype of the unshaven, sleep-deprived, near-comatose dad. Dear Disney/Pixar writers: “Mr. Mom” was portrayed that way by Michael Keaton in 1983. 1983. As in 35 years ago. You couldn’t have come up with something more clever? (not to mention realistic). Has society made no progress in the past 35 years?
  3. Bob is embittered and jealous of Helen’s success. Need I point out the problem with portraying the dad character in this way? This is a movie that many, many kids will see. Why would the writers resort to such a shallow and inaccurate stereotype? (This scene especially seemed unnecessary in the context of other scenes that do show Bob wanting Helen to succeed. Why then was a scene that showed him angry and jealous while watching Helen on the news even included? Character growth? I think the clever writers could have come up with a better way).

And lastly, one missed opportunity that made my jaw drop (not in a good way).

No matter the label we put on ourselves, moms or dads, “breadwinner” or “stay-at-home” parent, there is one line the movie got right,

Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.

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