Those of you in the UK have probably seen the new Robinson's ad by now. It shows two young boys spending the day together, playing, having fun, and of course drinking Robinson's squash.
At the end of an action-packed, slightly hazily-filtered day, one of the boys falls asleep and is carried upstairs and tucked in by the other, who, it turns out (SPOILER ALERT) is in fact his dad.
The tagline then says; It's good to be a dad, It's better to be a friend.
The ad has received considerable praise. "Charming and sweet, without being saccharine", "the best feeling from a fruit drink tv as yet". (Quite frankly if you're getting feelings from fruit drink ads maybe you should get out more, but whatever floats your boat). The youtube post has lots of gushing comments and "likes", and of course it's well timed in the run-up to Father's Day.
I'd probably have smiled vaguely and thought no more about it if it hadn't been for those final two sentences.
You see, I disagree.
Is it REALLY better to be a friend than a dad?
While we would probably all agree that a good relationship with your children is something to strive for, it should not be at the expense of decent parenting.
Parents provide guidance and support, yes, but parents also provide discipline and boundaries, which is not necessarily something that a child would expect from a friend.
A child will have a myriad different friends in their life. They will choose these friends themselves (no matter how much we parents may try and steer them towards or away from certain other children!), however, they will only ever have two biological parents. Quite frankly, a lot of the time they may decide they would never have chosen those parents, but really, that's ok. Yes, I'd probably like my children to like me, but it's far more important to me that they respect me, and to feel that I'd done a good job in raising them as decent human beings.
Also, let's face it, these days, fatherhood is even more precious. According to a research summary I found on the Fatherhood Institute website, almost a third of dependent children in the UK live apart from their fathers (2011).
The benefits of both parents being involved in a child's upbringing are pretty well documented from a social, economic point and child welfare point of view. While I'm not saying all relationships should stay together "for the sake if the kids", surely fatherhood is something we should cherish and treasure for its own sake, instead of being relegated to the role of football buddy?
So, Robinson's, yes, it's good to be a friend, but in my opinion it's better to be a dad.
(Apologies if this post is a bit messy-having real problems with blogger, so typing this on the mobile app-I'll try and tidy up and add links etc if I can ever get back into the desktop version of blogger)