Dad-vertising at the Super Bowl

I’ve always hated those commercials that show dads as the buffoons of the family. You know what I’m talking about. Dad can’t cook. He can’t change a diaper. He’s a dunce, and he can’t do anything right. Usually, mom has to step in and save the day before dad ruins everything or blows something up. Sometimes mom is pretty dull too, and saving the family is up to the kids. 

It was so refreshing to see a steady stream of commercials during the Super Bowl which promoted dadhood. Toyota, Nissan, and Dove all had fantastic commercials about fathers prioritizing their families and really being present for them. It was brilliant for them to promote these commercials when there were more men are in front of the television than any other time of the year. I hope we respond. 

After the Super Bowl, there were a number of other “dad highlights.” Tom Brady remarked how this championship was different than the others because he had the chance to celebrate with his family. Bill Belichick was unusually vulnerable in his press conference when he said, “I guess the last thing I’ll say before I open it up [to questions from reporters] is the last time I won and I got Gatoraded, my dad was here. I was certainly thinking about him tonight, and I’m sure he was watching. I hope my mom is watching too, so, ‘Hi Mom.’” Similarly, the Patriots’ wide-receiver, Julian Edelman, also became emotional when he expressed gratitude to his dad for all the sacrifices he’d made for his kids, without which Julian’s opportunities to play football or even go to college would have never been possible. 

Parents, you matter more than you realize. The impact you have on your kids will last for generations, and that’s not an exaggeration. Moms, you play a hugely important role in your children’s lives; be encouraged and know that this piece on dads is in no way meant to diminish your significance. Dads, show your kids what a strong and godly man looks like: how he plays, how he works, how he puts other people’s needs before his own, how he protects, and how he prays. The example you set for your children is something they will never forget. 

Much has been written about the fading role of fathers in our culture. As divorce continues to divide families, and as children are increasingly born into single-parent families, the need for father figures is increasingly common. Dads, your kids need you, and so do the boys and girls who don’t have a dad at home. Men, we need to step up and invest in the next generation. Children (young kids and teens) all need mature and godly men to look up to. It could be that their father is physically absent, emotionally absent, or maybe spiritually absent because he’s not a Christian. We need to be asking: how can the church serve as a “surrogate family” for these kids?  How does our Father in Heaven speak over and to these kids very specifically?

May the Church lead the way when it comes to restoring the honor of dads, because our earthly fathers are reminders of our Heavenly Father. We know that here on earth, no dad is perfect, and some dads are simply terrible reflections of God’s fatherly love. But one thing is clear: dads matter. Dads matter because they reflect our Father in Heaven. A father’s love is powerful because it reflects the love and acceptance we were created to enjoy in our Heavenly Father, and when the Church steps into a kid’s life to care for him or her, it is a tangible expression of the adoption which is ours through faith in Jesus Christ. It is well worth considering the call of the Super Bowl’s “dad-vertising” to live into the fullness of how God has created us as men. And as the role of father is simultaneously so important and so challenging, let us point men to the grace of Christ as their only help.  Without it, we are hopeless.

Mike McGarry is the Director of Youth Pastor Theologian, has served as a Youth Pastor for 18 years in Massachusetts, and has two youth group aged kids at home. He earned his D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has published three books – most recently, “Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith.” Mike is committed to training youth workers to think biblically about what youth ministry is and to training them to teach theologically with confidence. You can connect with him on social media @youththeologian.

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