Over the past 5-ish months I’ve been a stay at home dad, but I’ve been aware of these prejudices for far longer, in fact for as long as I’ve been a dad. My notice of them has increased since I’ve been spending a whole lot more time with my daughters (thats an important distinction).
I know a million and one posts have been done about this subject before and they all leave us asking questions like; What can we do about this? How should I react? Should I feel disgusted?
I don’t plan on answering all the questions, and I certainly don’t profess to have all the answers. In fact all I can draw on is my own personal experiences and discuss how I reacted during those moments. What I can also do is explain how I plan to react in the future, hopefully some (if not all) of my views are shared.
So what am I talking about when I say prejudice?
- Shopping center toilets.
- Can dad cope?
- How will you re-enter the workforce after so much time off?
- Three girls (add your own number) don’t you wish you had a boy?
- Three girls, poor you 😦
A few caveats.
- There are “bad elements” in our world but to paint one minority with the same brush is dangerous and unfair. Like most people I wish to see every child safe, so this is by no means an article about saying that jerks and jerketts don’t exist.
- Stay at home dad’s can do anything, and for that matter so can stay at home mums.
- Some men and women do struggle to enter the workforce after stay at home duties end, but not all of us.
- Girls are awesome and I’m constantly in awe of my three girls.
Shopping Center Toilets.
So it happens almost every time I head out with the girls, we get a fully loaded trolley or at the head of the cashier queue and one of the tots will look up at me with their big blue eyes and ever so sweetly say “I need to go to the toilet.”
Naturally a long conversation ensues about if they need to go, or can they hold on, but more often than not we end up ditching what we’re doing and heading to the nearest loo. Generally speaking the toilets are usually well marked and easy to get to, and most times we’re in and out quickly.
What concerns me, but lets be frank I’m not loosing sleep over it, is the attention that I sometimes get from other patrons, parents, and mums.
Now I’m not a single parent, nor am I bad guy (I think) but the scorn and attitude that’s sometimes directed at me is not a one off occurrence and is certainly not accidental. I can assure you that my wife doesn’t get these looks when taking our kids to the toilet nor would she if she were taking a little boy in.
I’m not blind to the fact that there are bad elements in our society, and I’m certainly not blind to the fact that the media has painted all men with the same brush for a long time. But more and more now days men are becoming the primary careers for their kids while mums off working. Plus most venues now have family friendly bathrooms available to mums and dads to use (what a blessing, I would hate to take my girls into an open stall men’s room, yetch!)
But in saying this the stigma remains, “men taking little girls into the bathroom are up to no good.”
What can we do as dads?
It’s important to understand that most of these people are not intentionally being malicious and lets face it if they are they’re probably pretty unhappy and jerky enough for you not to worry about.
In most cases when this does effect me, I generally make a “busting to go” face, without the typically male groin grabbing, and hustle my girls quickly into the safety of the family room. Usually when inside I’m pleasantly met with smiles from other dads and mums using the facility.
On the rare occasion where someone says something it’s simple to say these are my daughters (despite the fact I feel I shouldn’t have to justify myself, or prove they’re mine.)
Now in some ways this is a double edged sword, these good Samaritans are looking after your kids interests but on the other side they’re comparing me and other loving dads me with the undesirables in society. Its true that these stigmas will eventually breakdown as more and more millennials take on the awesome role of stay at home dad. But right now we seem stuck with this.
In saying this it feels like its getting more acceptable.
Can Dad Cope?
“How do you cope? Three girls!!” I get this a lot.
I cope because I’m an awesome dad. Not that its always a breeze, but I have some things working to my advantage:
- I’m an adult.
- I’ve been in the work force for the past 20+ years, in a variety of stressful roles.
- I was once a kid.
- And at worst I’m semi capable of raising my own kids.
With that being said there are times that the nappy hits the fan, all hell breaks loose and a few beers would truly be welcome. But in contrast us blokes aren’t alone in this struggle, our women counterparts also have this to contend with, I’m yet to meet the parent (male or female) who have a smooth clear sailing trip through parenthood.
Anyone who thinks that I cant cope because I’m a man doesn’t know me or what i’m capable of.
The postcard families just don’t exist.
How will you enter the workforce after so much time off?
I’d first like to state that work was certainly a lower priority for me than my family, sure I enjoyed working, and I always gave 100% to my role,but at the end of the day I came home to my family not to my work. So it’s quite easy for me to say that this is preferable to working.
However its a pretty pertinent statement as one day I will have to reenter the workforce, and in truth I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes and until then I’ll do what I need to to prepare for that time.
What gets my goat about this statement is not that people doubt my ability to get a job but that it seems they generally doubt “men’s” ability to get back into the workforce. Again my female counterparts don’t seem to suffer this fate. It’s either that women and expected to never work again or they are only good enough for the drive-through after they give birth.
With this point of view the statement “How will you get a job?” has a double meaning that’s not doing anyone favors.
People can be so confused and confusing.
Now for myself I have total confidence that I’ll be able to work again, I’ve held enough jobs with enough diversity that I should fall into a position pretty quickly when the time comes. and on top of that it’d be wise for not just myself but for others who are stay at home parents to diversify their skill sets and grow their potential.
It’s not that different from entering the work force after school, except that we have loads of experience, the wisdom of age, and the patience of Job (no pun intended).
Three Girls, don’t you wish you had a boy?
Simple answer: No.
I love my girls, as much as I’d love them if they were boys. We planned to have 2 kids, we were blessed with three and all of them girls.
Girls are awesome!
Three girls, poor you.
What’s with this?
News flash world all kids are challenging, boys or girls.
When we traveled around Japan (before we had kids) we stayed in a hostel, despite being an awesome experience we took something away from it that’s been valuable.
While there my wife’s mother was terribly sick and we were both stressed about being so faraway and not being able to help. One day we made a phone call home to check how she was only to find out things had taken a turn for the worse. Emotional my wife got off the phone and cried in the hostels managers office, he as still in the room and had heard the exchange.
Touching her shoulder the manager said, “Things are bad right now, and they may get worse, but rest assured they will get better. Life is just like a roller coaster, there are many ups and downs.”
This has stuck with us forever, because its true. Life has many hills and troughs, probably equal measure. The lesson is that even if you hit rock bottom then you’ve only got joy and happiness to look forward to.
Having kids is very much like this, one moment you’re rolling around tickling each other the next someones in tears, moments later we’re all smiles again.
The thing with children is that the joy hills and sorrow troughs are closer together than the adult ones. This is true whether you have boys or girls, or one child or ten.
On the upside the ten kid family has many more joy hills than the one child family.
No matter what I do or wherever I go people will stare, talk and make judgments. The best thing that to do is ignore it where possible, correct where necessary, and always defend your daughters awesomeness.