I saw this commercial the other day for the 2014 Chevy Malibu where the dad lets the little girl wear her costume to school on picture day. I thought it was super cute and reminded me of my daughter. It’s also nice to see a dad in a commercial that’s not an idiot. I wanted to share the video with my wife so I searched for it online. I found the video, but also found out that there is a bit of a loudmouth backlash against the commercial.
The backlash boiled down to “Why’d that guy let his daughter wear that to school? And on the most sacred of days, picture day, no less; he needs to be the parent not a friend…” And other Facebook meme based complaints.
I could not believe how angry some people were about the commercial. Plus they get it wrong in a number of ways. First, and the most important, it’s just a commercial. The point is to sell you a car. The same rule of online life applies here as almost everywhere else: If you hate it ignore it. That’s how you get it to go away. But, for the sake on internet content, let’s proceed like this is a real thing.
Second, the old ‘be a parent not a friend’ hogwash. This seems to often come from the same crowd that has a weird excitement about domineering, humiliating and sometimes beating kids. Treating kids like that may get them to shut up at the store, but the rest of us have to deal with their magazine rack of issues that it creates the rest of the time. Will squeezing every bit of creativity and expression out of a growing mind make them a better person? Not in my experience. And I must not understand the types of friends these people have. I want, and want to be, a friend that tells you when you are wrong, helps protect you from your darkness. A friend who’s advice is taken seriously before a decision and offers full support after. A drinking buddy is not a friend, no matter what age we are. Someone that encourages the worst from us is not a friend, misery may love company but it’s not a friend. It’s not a choice between authority and friendship. In fact, authority in this relationship cannot exist without support, love and honesty, i.e. friendship.
Third, it’s only picture day, AKA a racket that disrupts the school day and takes away from learning. It is 2014 pictures are not special. You get them more than once a year and your modern wallet, your phone, is bursting with them. To quote Jim Gaffigan,
I have more pictures of my kids than my Dad even looked at me.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) April 22, 2011
If Grams and Gramps want a picture, text them one with the caption, “Junior in 3rd grade.” But, chances are they are already sick of being tagged in every pic of the wunderkind you post. Pictures, dances, parties, assemblies all suck up the valuable, finite time that teachers and student have.
Fourth, you know what the dirty little secret of parenting is? Nobody knows what they are doing. Any honest grandparent will admit that. Each of us tries to do the right thing and hopes for the best. How we live our lives will do more to teach our kids how to act. They will only really learn respect, manners and leadership if we demonstrate respect, manners and leadership.
Or whatever, what do I know. Plus, it’s just a commercial.