A great dad, but not a super hero

Dad duty ... Doyin Richards in the photo that started all the internet commotion.
Dad duty ... Doyin Richards in the photo that started all the internet commotion. 

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between the roles mothers and fathers play in the family home, this photo – or the public’s reaction to it – illustrated it entirely.

Doyin Richards, a blogger, businessman and father of two, was on a month’s paternity leave last October. His wife usually looks after the hairstyling for their toddler, but as she was running late for work Richards offered to do it – while also caring for their infant daughter. His wife was dubious that he could pull it off, so he needed pictorial evidence to share with her.

After setting himself up with the older daughter on a stool and the baby in an Ergo carrier, Richards snapped a pic of his awesome juggling skills.

'Real men' ... A photo from Doyin Richards's blog, Daddy Doin' Work.
'Real men' ... A photo from Doyin Richards's blog, Daddy Doin' Work. 

Now, when a mum brushes her daughter’s hair, the world keeps moving. When a dad does so - and posts the photo on Facebook - BAM! Internet explosion.

Richards’ photo was shared more than 4800 times, received over 3000 comments, and was liked over 190,000 times.

All because he was holding a hairbrush.

Yes, it’s an itty-bitty hairbrush which looks slightly ridiculous in his man hands, and yes, they are a cute family, but is that really how low we set the bar for fathers?

Even Richards admits that if he had posted a picture of his wife doing what he did in that picture, many would probably think it’s cute, but it wouldn’t have gone viral. It certainly wouldn’t have appeared on the Today show.

Why is it such a big thing to see dads acting as caregivers in their children’s lives? And why does the smallest act of caring for one’s children make a father an apparent ‘superdad’ - when the status of being a great mum seems practically unattainable?


A few months after the photo originally went viral, Richards reposted it, along with a blog piece in which he explored some of the feedback he received on the photo.

He said that some didn’t even believe it was real, claiming that he’d just borrowed a couple of kids. Others called him a superdad.

Whether the feedback was positive or negative, Richards says he has a dream that “people will view a picture like this and not think it’s such a big deal.”

Richards’ blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, is a not the exception to the rule, but rather an indication of a generation of dads who are determined to be more involved in their kids’ lives, embracing parenthood rather than enduring it. It’s a movement of fathers who are out and proud in their love for their children and their role as parents.

“Somewhere there’s a dad who put his foot down with his boss and refused to attend an ‘urgent staff meeting’ so he could leave work early to attend his daughter’s dance recital,” he writes.

“Somewhere there’s a single dad successfully getting his three sons ready for school. Somewhere there’s a stay at home dad crushing all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry for his family.

“Somewhere there’s a dad who would rather play catch in the backyard with his son instead of killing pixelated terrorists on his Xbox.”

There sure is. And these men are not super heroes; they are our husbands, partners, sons and brothers, and most of them are doing a great job.

I’m glad that Richards is being recognised as a good dad. He seems like an awesome guy. I agree with him that no medals are necessary though – unless you’re also going to give one to his wife.