Meet the new gen dads of Instagram who are redefining fatherhood
Move over Mumsnet, there’s a new wave of cool Instadads and they’re redefining fatherhood for a new generation of men.
Tom Fletcher, 31, author and musician
@tomfletcher, 1.3million followers
Dad to: Buzz, 2 and Buddy, 5 months
‘Having grown up in a band (McFly) I’ve been blogging since the days of MySpace so when I became a dad, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t share this enormous part of my life too. Of course there are questions: how much is too much to share? Will this be controversial? But rather than a paparazzi take photos of my family I am in control of this. And the response has been amazing.
My wife was asked the other day, ‘How’s mummy getting on with two babies?’ as though the general assumption is that she’s the full-time carer. But we’ve always been 50/50. I hate that assumption that when Dad is in charge, he’s babysitting. No, he’s being a dad. I’m actually campaigning to get more baby change facilities in male public toilets because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to change my baby’s nappy on my lap or on public toilet floors because the changing area is always in the ladies’ loos.
Women, especially mums, undoubtedly get more criticism online. My wife was body-shamed for posting a selfie three weeks after giving birth [somebody commented that she ‘still had a tummy’] which was spiteful, and I’m only now realising how judgemental people can be. Comments like ‘That’s the wrong car seat’, or ‘you should put your phone down and look after your kid’ crop up. But overwhelmingly, the feedback is incredible. ‘Thank you for showing how it really is for dads’ is a favourite comment. There’s a real wave of Instadads and they’re owning it.
The truth is, every person’s experience of parenthood is completely unique to them, but I’m grateful for the parenting advice I get online, and glad I can share mine. I didn’t want a changing bag with pictures of cupcakes on it but luckily another dad recommended a cool silver rucksack that I now use. I think it’s important for men to know it’s cool to express this huge part of your life rather than living up to a self-perpetuating ‘blokey’ stereotype. This is real life.’
Simon Hooper, 33
@father_of_daughters, 42.5k followers
Dad to: Anya, 9; Marnie, 6; and twins Delilah and Ottilie, 6 months
‘I look back at photographs of my own childhood and my dad is never there because he was always the one taking the photos and just getting on with things in the background. Thankfully, dads of Instagram are more visible now.
When my twin girls arrived in February, I could have carried on sharing the usual stuff on Instagram – cars, architecture – but after seeing my wife blog about parenting (@mother_of_daughters) I realised dads need a voice too. That Homer Simpson, hands-off dad cliché doesn’t exist, not in my circle of friends anyway. I wanted to show what real fatherhood looks like, not the sugar-coated version. And it’s nice to have a space to talk about stuff like, which baby carrier is best. Men need support networks too.
The world is changing, more men are – and should be – taking up shared parental leave because they want to see their children grow up, not just be the absent breadwinner. Like other Instadads, by showing this reality on social media, I’m hoping it will make it a more viable option for parents everywhere. Parenting is a team job. It’s about time we talked about it.’
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Matt Farquharson, 39
@papa_pukka, 3,478 followers
Dad to: Mae, 3
‘Fatherhood is a peculiar experience. All the trappings of your 20s suddenly fall away and you have to focus entirely on this totally ungrateful and demanding small human who has no respect for anyone else’s time, needs or sleep. But the pay-off is that you get a spontaneous cuddle around your shin that fills you with so much love you don’t care. That’s what I wanted to capture with my Instagram feed – giving men a portal to say, ‘God this is hard sometimes’. It’s a nod of reassurance.
Go back a generation and men talking about their kids was almost seen as a weakness. But men are much more well-rounded now. I can send work emails on my phone in one hand and push my daughter on the swings with the other and that’s great. There’s been a broader shift in society where women are more confident in demanding equality at work and men want to do their share of the parenting.
My wife (@mother_pukka) is a blogger but there’s a huge difference in the way men and women communicate. Women have lengthy discussions about sleep training and weaning. There are entire forums dedicated to it, but I’m not sure men seek those out. I just want to share pictures of my little girl doing ridiculous things, that’s why Instagram works. But the dadding community is growing, as more men have found the balance between work and home – it’s the reason I work freelance and wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a dad’s breakfast club in my area and I’ve noticed a huge rise in dad bloggers. I’m not surprised. You have this tiny, hilarious version of yourself who amazes you every day. Who wouldn’t want to share that?’