Should the PTA produce a hot dads calendar to raise funds? 

QI’m on the PTA and we’re trying to come up with a cute, fun fund-raiser idea. We were kind of joking around about how the dads in our elementary school are really hot, and one PTA mom said she heard that the PTA at another school in our county might actually make and sell a “hot dads calendar.” Maybe they won’t do it in the end, but I bet a lot of people in our school community would buy something like this! I think we could make a killing. Everyone on the PTA board thought the whole idea was very funny, but they didn’t think it was appropriate. I said we should seriously think about trying it. What do you think? And if you don’t think it’s a good idea, would you feel different if instead of taking the “shirtless fireman,” sexy, half-dressed approach, we made it more about fathers doing regular dad stuff? Things like making kids’ lunches or driving carpool, with their shirts on? I know this whole idea is a little outside-the-box, but can’t we have a little fun? People are sick of stationery and wrapping paper. 

A: First, thank you for the laugh. You get points for ingenuity, but I don’t think you’ve played this out. Can you imagine a 1st grader coming home from a playdate and saying, “Mom, why is there a photo of dad wearing a towel on Carly’s mom’s refrigerator?” Or a 3rd grader asking, “Dad, how come you’re not on the calendar? Max’s dad is January, Charlotte’s dad is April, Derek’s dad is June, but you didn’t get anything!”    

You’re suggesting a calendar that objectifies the men in your community. Flip the genders and see if it feels any different to you. Would you want your son or daughter to see a scantily clad photo of you hanging in their friend’s kitchen? Would you want to hang a calendar featuring other students’ mothers posing provocatively? Imagine a group of PTA members sitting around evaluating all the mothers in the school based on their appearance alone. Your fellow PTA board members are correct  it’s inappropriate. 

I also think the backlash could be bad. What seems silly and fun to you would be downright offensive to many other parents. You’re all presumably working hard to raise kids from the inside out, focusing more on core values than “hotness.” This kind of calendar transmits a completely different message. How would you even pull it off? Would the PTA convene again to rank the dads? Would you send out a survey? An anonymous Google doc? Is this the behavior you want to model for the kids? And thinking ahead, what would you say to a chosen dad? “Hey, Bruce, the PTA met last week, and we all agree you should be in our hot dads calendar. Could you meet us in the all-purpose room on Tuesday in a towel? We’ll explain more later. Thanks!”  

To answer your second question, I suppose it’s better if the dads are wearing clothes and making sandwiches, but I still wouldn’t go near this idea. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think the calendar would raise nearly as much money as you think. Even if the men’s wives think it’s funny and stock up on multiple copies, the majority of parents would probably rather buy wrapping paper — or just give you a check.  

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Have a question that you’d like Career Confidential to answer? Email contactphyllisfagell@gmail.comAll names and schools will remain confidential. No identifying information will be included in the published questions and answers.

PHYLLIS L. FAGELL (@Pfagell; phyllisfagell.com) is the school counselor at Sheridan School in Washington, D.C., a therapist at the Chrysalis Group in Bethesda, Md., and the author of the Career Confidential blog. She is also the author of Middle School Matters, available at https://bit.ly/2RNXVu3.

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