Don’t Moms Buy Everything? Ah, Nope.

Dear Mr. Dad: In last week’s column you complained that advertising ignores dads. As I understand it, moms make most purchasing decisions. Wouldn’t advertising to men alienate women? And why should advertisers spend money pitching to people who don’t buy anything?

A: You’ve raised three important issues here. Let’s go through them one at a time.

First, while mothers may make the majority of purchasing decisions, it’s not by much. Ninety percent of dad are involved in everyday buying decisions for their family. Forty percent do half or more of the household shopping every week. Single dads and at-home dads account for an even greater share, and those numbers are only going up, as the percentage of women who outearn their husbands also rises.

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Double Standard Anyone?

Yet another example of the differences between the ways society rates mothers and fathers.

On January 11, Amy Chua’s book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom hit stores. Chua’s book, which describes her extremely strict approach to parenting her children. She’s been on the Today show, interviewed in Time magazine, and has generally been the talk of the town.

Here’s an excerpt from the Time mag piece:

“The first thing Chua wants you to know is that she is not a monster. “Everything I do as a mother builds on a foundation of love and compassion,” she says. Love and compassion, plus punishingly high expectations: this is how Chua herself was raised. Though her parents are ethnically Chinese, they lived for many years in the Philippines and immigrated to America two years before Chua was born. Chua and her three younger sisters were required to speak Chinese at home; for each word of English they uttered, they received a whack with a pair of chopsticks. On the girls’ report cards, only A’s were acceptable. When Chua took her father to an awards assembly at which she received second prize, he was furious. “Never, ever disgrace me like that again,” he told her.”

Of course, not all the coverage has been positive, but generally speaking, Chua is looked at as a courageous woman, unafraid to take a controversial position, to demand excellence from her children.

Contrast that with what happened to a dad in Australia, who had very much the same attitude. According to an article in the Herald Sun, “The father of three pushed his two daughters to complete homework above their academic level. He tutored them in the hope of winning private school scholarships…. His demands were driven by a desire for his children to have the best education because he came from an impoverished background in Vietnam, court documents show.”

Far from being heralded as a national hero, this dad has been banned by the court by making any decisions about his children. Again, the Tiger Mom has taken some flak–but no one has suggested removing her from her kids’ lives.

So…. why is it okay for a mother to be a hard ass with her kids, but not for a father?