I really hope someday I will never come across stories like Surrey Dad Rick Kaselj.
Rick is a fairly new arrival to daddyland, the Stay-at-home Dad world and to Vancouver. Like many Dads before him, he wanted to hook up with other parents for playdates. So Rick went online and found a group to join in Cloverdale – a group made up of Moms. But the group responded to his request with a resounding “you are not welcome”.
The email, signed Cloverdale Mothers Group, apologetically informed Kaselj that more than half of the members want the group to be for mothers only.
“I hate to discriminate,” the author went on, “but hope you can understand when it comes to the security of our children and especially since you have not been able to attend a meetup.”
What an idiotic excuse – for the safety of our children. For someone who hates to discriminate, seems like the author of the email is pretty darn good at it. And saying sorry doesn’t make actions acceptable.
If you are a Mom involved with a group that has to deal with the issue of allowing (apparently dangerous) Dads to be a part of the group, I sincerely hope you will help defend a Dad’s place in these groups.
At the very least, please realize that your actions send a message to your kids. If your 4 year old is like mine, then you know they are not oblivious. The Girl notices when I am the only Dad at a playgroup.
Nothing but Moms in a playgroup sends a message to the kids that when it comes to socializing, women are the only ones who do this with their kids. It is another subtle gender reinforcement to kids who are starting to form their gender identities that the responsibility for socialization is a Mommy’s role; a women’s role.
I know, you are thinking these kids are 4 and this is some pretty heavy stuff you are expecting them to internalize. But the truth is, they do internalize it as they struggle to form their gender roles. They are sponges, trying to figure out how society expects them to act. And they are looking to us for guidance.
This goes double for boys in the playgroup, who see absolutely no male role models in the playgroup setting. How do we expect these boys to grow into caring, nurturing fathers when potential role models get excluded from participating?
I don’t think any of this thinking was at play in this Mom groups decision. Maybe they truly felt threatened by a male in the midst. It wouldn’t be the first time Moms have felt their traditional roles threatened by a Dad. But I believe kids pick up on the underlying messages and decisions about whether to allow a Dad into a playgroup can have consequences for our children.