How the Rock and other celebrity dads are embracing fatherhood and breaking down gender stereotypes

“The Rock” in a popular Instagram photo showing him as a loving dad. (Photo: Instagram/Dwayne Johnson)
“The Rock” in a popular Instagram photo showing him as a loving dad. (Photo: Instagram/Dwayne Johnson)

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson might be known to many as a superstar wrestler turned blockbusting Hollywood actor, but he is simply known as “Dad” to his three girls. The newest addition to Johnson’s family is 1-month-old Tiana, and for her, he’s put aside his tough-guy persona and turned up his mushy parental instincts — at least on Instagram. And he’s not the only celebrity dad doing so.

The actor, 45, recently shared a sweet photo in which he takes a knee while spoon-feeding his longtime girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, as she breastfeeds Tiana. It went quickly viral, racking up over 5.5 million likes and sparking a celebratory conversation of more than 44,000 comments, mostly about the nature of fatherhood.

“I’m a dad I completely understand I did this I love doing this and it shows a real man and a father I have no doubt you will be a fantastic father as you are a man congratulations again,” noted one commenter. Another added, “You can be a good actor and a good businessman, but if your not a good father or a good partner you are nothing. You sir are a great father and being a great partner. Keep up your hustle.”

Another fan wrote, “This is one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. I don’t know any men that are like this,” and several were so impressed that they declared him to be “a real man.”

Others were so bowled over by Johnson’s simple gesture, it was a bit alarming: “Never have I seen a man respect a mum in this way!!!!!! What a dream….hero….demiGOD of a man,” noted one.

It was not the first time the actor used social media to showcase his parental devotion, and often shares tender images of his girls.

Happy Mother’s Day to my main squeeze @laurenhashianofficial, holding my little main squeeze, Jasmine Lia, who’s holding my tiniest main squeeze, Tiana Gia – both our daughter’s middle names are in honor of their great grandmothers, Lia and Giavanna. I’m in constant respect and grateful awe of all the things this incredible mama accomplishes on a daily basis. Here’s a fun small recap: Having a two and half year old and a newborn attached and clinging to her 24/7. Managing the wonderfully fun, Terrible 2’s with Jazzy. The “Hi, I need to eat every 3hrs and preferably from your boob” (just like daddy;) with Baby Tia. Managing multiple family properties. Managing an ever growing staff of family employees across the country. Picking up the ENTIRE FAMILY, STAFF AND DOG and moving to multiple locations AROUND THE WORLD, throughout the year because of my filming and production schedule. All while continuing to build an amazing career as a music and song writer/producer. As an artist and businessman myself, I recognize how incredibly hard this part is of her job is. She’s a brilliant visionary storyteller and lyrically gifted – all qualities that are hard to tap into when you’re managing this nonstop life of ours. But she does it like a brilliant bad ass. And here’s the best part and the thing I’m most proud of… Lauren does it all with a big genuine smile and is truly, the kindest and sweetest soul you’ll ever meet. People tell me all time after they spend time with her, “Lauren’s the nicest person I have ever met”. I always say, “Yes she is and being nice runs in our family… and so does kicking ass, so don’t ever get on her bad side” Lol. And finally – of all the human beings on this earth she could have as her partner – she chose me. One big, brown, bald, tattooed, very lucky SOB. Happy Mama’s Day Lauren. Take a bow and Queen it up – you’re an amazing mama and amazing mama’s make this world go around. #yvpagm x

A post shared by therock (@therock) on May 13, 2018 at 1:17pm PDT

Other celebrity dads embracing fatherhood and sharing their own special moments with their millions of social media fans include retired soccer superstar David Beckham, who frequently posts about the love he has for his three boys and one girl, with wife, Victoria.

He often gushes over his children on Instagram.

Most recently, Beckham was brought to tears when his eldest son, Brooklyn, surprised him for his birthday.

Even reality TV villain and The Hills alum Spencer Pratt completely transforms into a sweet, sensitive man for his baby boy Gunner on Instagram (where he calls himself “Pratt Daddy”). As he told People recently, “My favorite part of fatherhood is seeing a baby so innocent. Until you watch a human being born and watch a little baby growing and learning how to smile and waiting for a baby to giggle … it’s definitely made me enjoy humans more.”

King of my heart

A post shared by Pratt Daddy (@spencerpratt) on May 25, 2018 at 4:50pm PDT

until the day I️ die

A post shared by Pratt Daddy (@spencerpratt) on Mar 4, 2018 at 12:47pm PST

Other celeb daddies getting into the doting cuddle game on social media include John Legend, DJ Khaled, and Kanye West. And the images they post have a powerful influence, according to University of Oregon psychology professor Gordon Hall. He tells Yahoo Lifestyle that celebrity dads often get praised for being doting dads because these types of gestures are “counter-stereotypical,” and show “a tough guy being tender.”

Wild Saturday celebrating #nationalroséday

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on Jun 9, 2018 at 6:15pm PDT

“Men and boys can learn [by seeing these images] that being nurturing is part of being a man,” he explains. “Some men who believe in traditional gender roles may not see nurturing as their responsibility — it is ‘women’s work.’ Pop culture moments like these could be a start toward changing traditional gender roles for some men who are uncertain about them.”

Even a cursory read of the comments on these photos supports Hall’s point — as one commenter wrote simply and powerfully on Johnson’s recent pic, “You are my hero, dude.”

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

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