Cheerios Debunks Fatherhood Myths Perpetuated By Media

By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl

For too long, men have been the brunt of the jokes in admittedly funny television commercials. Leading brands have been jumping on the “stupid-men” band-wagon, portraying dads in particular as hapless overgrown kids who can’t make decisions and manage without a smart woman by their side. This month, General Mills takes an entertaining sideswipe at that mentality with a Cheerio’s “How-To-Dad” commercial that made me literally scream out loud when I got to the end and found the dad to be the superhero! (OK, maybe I cheer(io)ed!

The official #HowToDad hashtag is trending heavily, as evidence that both moms and dads are sick of men being portrayed as bumbling idiots. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m poised to contribute to a conversation that says men are good in an effort to dispel the myths perpetuated by lousy commercials that have been the norm for far too long. Move over myths, there’s a #HowToDad movement on the prowl complete with advice on how to treat your wife and what to do when your son attempts to scare the tar out of you before your feet hit the ground

The Myths TV Perpetuates

We have a bad boy—as opposed to a good men— mentality in culture. One reason is that the a cultural movement told us they are bad. Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder Of Boys, though seeming to embrace the feminist movement as a whole points out a few devastating myths it introduced to convince our boys that they are “bad.” Here are two that resonate with me:

Myth Number One:

“that masculinity is responsible for the world’s ills and femininity is the world’s salvation.”

Myth Number Two:

“males destroy, females create; males stand in the way of positive spiritual/social values; males are inherently violent.”

Just consider how prevalently these two myths are portrayed in the media. Television alone reinforces them with programs like Modern Family where the guys are sweet, but stupid. (Even the reruns of The Simpsons portray the contrast between bright and beautiful Lisa and stupid and out-of-shape Bart.) Co-ed television commercials often portray the guy as ditzy and the girl as smart. It’s funny. It really is. But how much of it can we expose ourselves to before we believe it? How much can our sons and husbands be exposed to before they plummet into self-fulfilling prophecy mode?

Today’s men as a whole have pretty much rolled over and taken it. But this viral Cheerio ad gives me hope. Hope that boys can be taught to grow up to be good men

Goodness vs. Badness

Robert Coles, a pioneer in the field of moral intelligence, brings clarity to the definitions of goodness and badness when he writes:

good…boys…have learned to take seriously the very notion, the desireability of goodness—living up to the Golden rule.” Whereas bad boys display a “heightened destructive self-absorption, in all its melancholy stages.” In essence, we go bad when “we lose sight of our obligation to others.”

Goodness is the quality that makes us put others ahead of ourselves. (And this quality is so vibrant and visible in the Cheerio’s ad.) Goodness is the moral compass that keeps the world safe, happy, and working. It’s the drive that makes us want to function in families—from waking up with scary horse masks up our nostrils to making coffee for each other— rather than isolation. It’s the internal road sign that takes us away from our own desires and toward the destiny of meeting the needs of others. Without it, we are “bad.” That’s probably why all of us–male and female—are called to goodness.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with goodness.”
Romans 12:21

The New Testament Greek word for “goodness”—used here and in other places— appears in three forms, all of which are rooted in the Hebrew word “tob”, which meant “usefulness.” Are we bringing up boys who understand their call of duty to be useful contributors to society? One important component of helping boys understand their duty, is portraying it in the mediums of our culture. That’s why I think the Cheerio’s ad is an epic victory for those of us who believe that men are good.

P.S. Someone go buy some Peanut Butter Cheerios and send a message that we like this message. A lot.


Part of this article is an edited excerpt from Six Ways To Keep The Good In Your Boy by myself (Dannah Gresh).

Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures, bouncing beach ball competitions, mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. Click the video below for a sneak peak.


Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker , and creator of Secret Keeper Girl, America’s most popular tween stage show for moms and daughters. Dannah has authored 27 books, including And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth) and is considered one of the leading experts on the subjects of sexual purity, modesty, and true beauty. More than 350,000 people have attended her live events. She has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, and the 700 Club and is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and Family Life. Her TEDTalk on tolerance for virginity offers thought-provoking look at why sexuality is enhanced by self-control. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bob on a hobby farm with a menagerie of animals. The couple has four young adult children.

Jesse Vigil - August 5, 2014


Jay - August 5, 2014

I have thought this for a long time now, and wondered…..why? Watch any Nick or Disney show and you’ll see they are horrible on Fathers.

Sarah - August 6, 2014

I agree! We love the lessons and morals that are part of The Berenstein Bears series. However some of these books portray papa bear as a clueless dad that gets corrected by the always “right” mama bear. By the way, I love the peanut butter Cheerios, especially when mixed with a cut up banana and milk!:)

Jessica Jackson - August 6, 2014

I liked this, and so did my husband. We are now grandparents, and this will help. I want the next generation back on track. Thanks! Ps. My guys big & small all love peanut butter 🙂

rich - August 6, 2014

I really enjoyed this article but you might want to check your word study at the end. Romans was written in Greek, not Hebrew. The word there is ἀγαθός (pronounced “agathos”)- there is no Semitic root. Although “useful” is listed as a secondary or tertiary definition in most dictionaries, ἀγαθός is almost always translated as “good”.

As far as the Hebrew is concerned, I think you may have been searching for the word “טוֹב” (pronounced “tov”) which means “good” or “pleasant”.

Jan - August 11, 2014

Great commercial but I wish it had other ethnicities reflected.

Angel - September 2, 2014

In answer to Jan: when are we as a society going to get over this ethnicities cry? You have one family here, be it whatever ethnicity you want it to be. You could have a white, an African American, a Hispanic, a Chinese, a Japanese, etc. Pick one and do a commercial! After all this commercial is not about ethnicities, it is about being a Dad. When I see a commercial with just a African American family or a Hispanic family, I don’t get upset over what ethnic group they are showing. We are all just people! It doesn’t matter what ethnic group is portrayed. It is about family and what it is to be a dad. I am glad someone stepped out and said something about a Dad’s role and what it is to be a Dad. Those who fulfill that role deserve it.

    karen - April 14, 2015

    Jan’s point doesn’t seem to be “ugh, white people are the worst.” People of non-caucasian ethnicities are grossly underrepresented in entertainment, ads, etc. Her point seems to be that she wishes the commercial featured a dad that wasn’t white/ an additional dad because one doesn’t have to be white to be a great parent.

    And God forbid there be two dads, because homosexuality isn’t natural AT ALL and God thinks shaming others is more important than acceptance. At least that’s what SKG seems to think.

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