newyorkercover

It’s a Mommy’s World – Exposing Dadscrimination

Nice try, New Yorker cover.  Hey, can you tell me where to find that park where there are so many cool dads that moms feel left out, because I have a feeling you need to live in a cartoon in order to get there.  I’ve been doing the stay-home dad thing for going on three years now, and I still feel like Marisa Tomei at Hillman College, if you know what I mean.

According to the 2010 census, there are 154,000 stay-home dads in the U.S.

154,000?  That’s not even a lot of people in Delaware.  Isn’t that exactly the number of Wayans brothers?  We couldn’t take over Lichtenstein with those numbers.  You really think we’re taking over parks?

Look, I’m not one to cry “oppression”.  I’m a middle-class white male, after all.  My kind have had it pretty good for the last few millennia or so.  Yes, I’m also gay, but let’s put that aside for a minute.  Other than that, I’m fairly demographically charmed.

Still, I’m in a minority group because of what I do for a living, and as a result I face a particular kind of prejudice on a daily basis.

That’s right.  I’m talking about “Dadscrimination”.  There may be more of us than there used to be, but in a lot of ways, the world still doesn’t get us.  We’re second-class parents, a joke or an afterthought.  Yo, it’s hard out here for a Daddy.

From the serious to the semantic, here are just a few of the ways dads get the shaft:

- The Mommification of Everything Parent-Related

You never see “Men at Work” signs anymore.  It’s always “Crew Working In Trees”.  We don’t call them “Policemen” or “Mailmen”, they’re “Officers” and “Postal workers.”  But when it comes to parenting, everything’s “Mommy”.  “Mommy movies”, “Mommy & Me” classes, “Mommy wars”, “Mommy Zumba”.  It’s as if the M-word is synonymous with “parent”.  No matter what barriers we break down in terms of gender inequality, inclusiveness goes out the window once you have kids.

I’ll admit I’ve never been to a Mommy movie, mostly because neither my kids nor I are interested in a film whose title is preceded by the words “Katherine Heigl in…”.

I did take a Mommy & Me class when my kids were young, although I think the kids and I all snuck in through the “Me” loophole.  Some parenting groups won’t even allow men.  I get it.  Ladies want to talk about breastfeeding (and do it) in privacy.  But until there are enough stay-home dads to sustain a decent-sized get-together, we don’t have a lot of places to turn for information.  I’m going to vouch for straight dads, too.  They’re not trying to look at your boobs.  We’re all just doing it for our kids, so please let us crash your party.

- The Boob Tube.

My only role model

If you’ve ever turned on TV between when school starts and the work day ends, you know it’s slim pickins for anyone with a moderate amount of testosterone in their system.  Good thing we have Tivo, On Demand and Netflix Instant or we’d be stuck with nothing but endless infotainment featuring doctors, judges and chattering coffee-sippers sitting on stools.  You know what I’m talking about .  The “The” shows.  “The View”, “The Talk”, “The Chew.”  Yes, there’s really a show called “The Chew”, and if I didn’t love my kids so much, that alone would be reason enough to go back to work and throw them in day care.

And what about choosy dads? I’m all ears, Madison Avenue!

Of course, no one is blinder to the existence of stay-home dads than advertisers.  Check the commercial breaks during those aforementioned shows, and you’ll see what I mean.  Look, I buy the Lemon Pledge in my family.  Would it kill you to show a dude dusting his fine wooden surfaces now and then?

- The Great Potty Disparity.

Nowhere is the disparity between dads and moms more obvious or extreme than in public restrooms.  I’ve already written about one bad experience I had at a children’s play center, but it’s an ongoing concern.  Too many businesses only put changing tables in the women’s bathrooms, which is not just dadscrimination but sexist, too.  Who says wiping poopy tushies is just a woman’s job?  If dads aren’t changing their kids, they should be.

Photo courtesy of JustBathroomSigns.com

There’ve been times I’ve had to wait outside a women’s bathroom until the coast was clear so I could go in and change a diaper.  Other times, I’ve had to lay my kid down on a scummy men’s room floor in the shadow of a urinal or take them back to my car just to get the job done.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a Family Bathroom, because I know it’s well-equipped and Dad-friendly.  I know a lot of small businesses don’t have the funds or the square footage to add a third bathroom, let alone one with curtain-shielded rocking chairs for discreet feeding.  But at any public establishment that welcomes families, Koala Kares in the men’s room are a must, or personally, I’m going to find somewhere else to pump my kids full of chicken fingers.

- Perv stares at the park.

I don’t hover over my kids at the park, but I’m always watching them closely from afar, for two very important reasons: 1, so they don’t get seriously hurt and 2, so they’re not snatched up by a perv.

We all know public recreation areas are pedophile smorgasbords, but here’s the irony: While I’m standing there by myself, eyes narrowly focused on a child who’s frolicking far off, then turning occasionally in a different direction to eyeball my other kid, what do I look like?  That’s right…

A LOUSY, STINKING PERV.

Ask any dad, and he’ll tell you: In a Mommy’s world, you are assumed creepy until proven otherwise.

Stay-home dads often fit the perv profile — middle-aged guys who look tired and unshaven, wearing yesterday’s Spaghetti-O-stained t-shirt and seeming as if they didn’t have time to take a shower that morning.  We spend a lot of time at playgrounds and toy stores.  And if you catch us in a moment when our kids aren’t eagerly tugging at our pant legs and begging us for some Dora the Explorer fruit snacks, we might look like we’re just there to case the joint.

In researching this piece, I came across this post from Daddy Dialectic, who faced the ultimate indignity.  Someone actually asked him to leave a park because she assumed he was a predator.  He did a survey and found out it was more common than he thought.  Having read that, I consider myself lucky that that’s never happened to me.

When I get a perv stare, I’m always quick to establish contact with my kids, just to prove my credibility.  Of course, that only works when your kids back you up.  One time, while my daughter was throwing a tantrum at Target, she yelled out, “Where’s my Mommy?”  That’s the only time that’s ever happened, but if the wrong person had been listening, I could’ve ended up in a one-on-one with store security.  Thanks, kid.

- Mommy cliquishness.

I thought my days of feeling hopelessly uncool ended with high school, but that was before I tried striking up conversations with stay-home moms.  Anywhere moms gather, dads are outcasts.

At least this is one area where gay dads have an edge.  Once I out myself, moms tend to get friendlier.  Maybe their real fear is that I’ll be some suave male homewrecker like Patrick Wilson in Little Children.

I suspect it’s something deeper and darker.  Most women just don’t respect men who stay home with their kids.  They see other women raising kids and think, sure, she’s a traditionalist or a post-modern feminist proving she doesn’t need a career to be a strong woman.  Go, sister!

When they see a man raising kids, they think he’s lazy.  They can’t help imagining his poor wife busting her ass trying to make partner while he stays home wearing flip-flops and eating Fritos on the couch.

- The presumption of cluelessness. 

When Drew and I were exploring our parenting options, we saw a counselor to help us sort things out.  She was smart, supportive and extremely helpful.  She quickly became one of my favorite people I’ve ever met.

Then, after the kids were born, I lamented how hard it was sometimes to soothe them when they were crying.  Our counselor just shrugged and said, “Well, you’re a dude.”

I was stunned, but I’ve since realized that’s how a lot of people think.  “That poor guy, alone with his kids.  He must be in over his head.”

Thanks, I’m doing fine, and you can spare me your advice, strangers.  I prefer to screw my kids up my way, not yours.

OK, fair enough.  Moms get unsolicited advice, too, and they hate it just as much.  Maybe this is one area where dads are catching up to moms faster than we’d like.

I know dadscrimination isn’t the worst form of bias.  Nobody’s making us sit in the back of any buses or denying us the right to vote.  I won’t be leading any marches on Washington or trying to become daddyhood’s Malcolm X.  Mostly, I just wanted a chance to vent.

Aren’t dads allowed to complain once in a while, too?

OK, gotta go.  My kids are waking up.

269 comments on “It’s a Mommy’s World – Exposing Dadscrimination

  1. Three cheers for Jason Doherty and the staff of The Counter: Sherman Oaks for putting a Koala Kare in the men’s room. They’re the kind of people everyone should be supporting!

    • Yes, absolutely. Didn’t get a chance to share that anecdote, but Drew contacted the owners of one of our favorite restaurants about the lack of a koala kare in the mens room – and they put one in! (It was the Studio City Counter actually, Drew.)

  2. I’m a male nanny and I fall into all of the above. We need more Koala Kares in the men’s room! This blog always has me laughing. Or simply saying, “ugh, yep, true”.

  3. This brought back many memories.

    I’m happy to say that my kids, my husband and I survived the “diaper changing dilemma” and bear the scars from the experiences. Although neither of us were stay-at-home dads, I can definitely sympathize on the issues of the ostracization by moms and the suspicious looks at the park.

    Being kept out of the “mom” group doesn’t end with the playground; it continues to team sports, classroom parties/projects (room parenting) and out-of-school parties.

    I coach my sons’ baseball and football teams; on occasion, I will see one of my players outside of practice (at school functions, other sporting events, out shopping, etc.) and greet the kid. The alarmed looks are almost enough to make me want to ignore a child out of concern for any potential dust ups over perceived perviness. I hate that I have to consider curbing my affection for kids I have watched grow up to avoid possible accusations of something unsavory.

    One additional thing … we adopted transracially. Outside of our hometown, we try to carry birth certificates and/or the boys’ passports to prove we are “really” their dads. I tense up whenever we go through airport security or in foreign countries because I fear someone trying to “keep my kid safe”.

    • Sorry to hear cliquey moms don’t go away. I was hoping we’d have better luck when the kids go to preschool this fall.

      We hyphenated our last names for the kids for just the reason you mention. We wanted to make it clear that they “belong” to both of us. I had read a similar story to yours about a gay couple who were hassled taking their kids through airport security. I’m sure the transracial aspect (and international travel) only adds to the challenge. Not easy, but I try to think of it as every awkward encounter results in one more person enlightened.

      • In all fairness, sometimes even us Moms don’t fit in to the cliquey mom groups. LOL. Women have some strange groups in general. It’s like you’re either in or OUT. I worked in an almost fully female title company once, and I was there for two years, but never felt like those women really accepted me… even the ones who were only six or seven years older than me always preferred each other’s company.

  4. It really IS a mommy world, and I often wonder about that. Even outside of parenting, things seem to be so gender-specific. This morning, in the car, a radio ad came on where two guys are talking. One asks the other something like, “You let Karen buy that car by herself?!” The other guy responds with something like, “No! I WENT with her to get that [insert type of car here].” I thought, OH! So a woman can’t car shop? Women don’t know how to check out a car? Not even a new one? And a man has to LET her shop for and pay for one on her own? Oh. Ok. I didn’t know.
    Weird stuff, man!
    I was raised by my dad. When my parents split up, my dad insisted that we stay with him. He worked fulltime, but he made our meals, dropped us off and pick us up from school, saw teachers, went to PTA meetings, grocery shopped… He did it all. That was a strange concept for a lot of people (teachers, friends, strangers) to grasp at that time, and in this country (Bahamas). There weren’t many dads single-handedly taking care of their children (and the number hasn’t really increased much here). It takes a very strong man to take it on, face the rest of the world, and (far too often) WRESTLE with the world, and fight for what is right.
    Keep fighting the good fight! I’m gonna go buy a car without a man’s help.

    • That commercial is crazy! It goes to show that misogyny remains a much bigger problem than “Dadscrimination”, so I hope I kept things in perspective with my post.

      Your dad is a hero by the way – and very lucky to have a daughter who knows it! :)

  5. Very well written, and totally makes a good point. My husband always has that bathroom issue when out with the kids without me. But I just have the say, thanks for the Marissa Tomei at Hillman reference – so far that’s been the laugh of my day!

  6. I am not looking forward to this. My husband is the home-maker in our family, and will be raising our little one(s) (first one due in June). He is very reserved at the best of times, and while I know he’ll be a phenomenal stay-at-home-Dad, the social stigma and plain old lack of facilities are going to be such a huge challenge for him. It has already been interesting trying to explain to people that no, he is not unemployed, he is a homemaker, by both of our choice, and they need not feel sorry for us. We live in a rural area, near a small city, so we’re several decades behind the times here, socially…

    • Well, good for your husband for taking on the challenge. If he knows what he’s up against, I’m sure he’ll do fine – and he’ll end up enlightening a lot of people along the way, too. Congrats on your upcoming arrival!

  7. I absolutely agree with you about the koala cares, i’ve encountered a few locations where even the ladies room doesn’t have one, so i sympathize with the diaper change on the dirty bathroom floor situation! I hope i never have to repeat that experience! For what its worth this is one stay at home mom who doesn’t look at the playground dads like pervs. I only assume you’re a perv if there is no kid to match you with :) (the playground i take my son too is frequently unoccupied, and at most has 2 other kids so its easy enough to match kids up with their parents) and I generally don’t get along well with other stay at home moms so i can sympathize there as well! If my husband didn’t frequently work from home i’d probably go a little bonkers from lack of adult interaction. As for the tv… I don’t ever have it on between lunch and 8pm so whatever it is thats on isn’t impacting me one way or the other! Good luck making your way in a mommy-centric world, I’m sorry so many people are cruel and insensitive to dads but hopefully moving forward that will be a less common occurance.

    • Thanks, Maria. It’d be nice if businesses had a sticker in their front window to let you know how equipped they were for kids. If they don’t have highchairs and equipped bathrooms, I’ll just find somewhere else to go.

      And I have to admit I’ve checked out 1 or 2 other men at the playground who didn’t seem to be there with a kid… just long enough to figure out which kid was theirs.

      • Do you check out some of the women on the playground too or do you have internalized misandry where you trust women more. These days, there are plenty of women who molest and rape underage kids so it is important to discard your biases.

  8. Good article Jerry. I have to admit, for this stay-at-home Mommy, I am not interested in Katherine Heigl movies either. I am also with you on the lack of diaper changers in men’s rooms. Whenever a restaurant didn’t have one, it was always my job to change the diaper. So most times we were out in public, I had to change diapers. Pooh on that!

    • Yeah, that’s not fair. I think for most places, it’s just a money saving measure. Those koala kares are expensive, and they figure that 90% of the time the kid will be with a mom who can change them. For me and Drew it just happens to be 0% of the time, so unlike your hubby, we can’t tell our wives, “Sorry, you have to do it!”

  9. Love this post as I never realized Dadscrimination until now. There is a stay at home father stayathometatte.wordpress.com, who muses of his day to day. I wonder if he comes across the same, as I’m sure he does. You raise very good points and Koala Kares should definitely be in male washrooms as well. Not sure if letter writing to mall management helps, or even Koala Kare themselves. You make such great points. Thank you for sharing!

    Pink.

    • Also, I agree with you on family restrooms. When I was little my dad sometimes took me shopping, and he often had to drag me into the men’s bathroom because I didn’t want to go there (I was scared I’d turn into a guy or something, who knows what goes through a 2 y/o’s head).
      And when I was a teenager, I sometimes took my kid brother to the movies and in turn had to drag him to the ladies’, because I didn’t want to risk him going into the men’s alone.

      • I have to say, I’m a little worried about the day when my daughter doesn’t want to come to the men’s room with me. I’m sure there will be a few years where I have to drag her there anyway until she’s old enough to go to the women’s room on her own.

      • Yes, that’s more or less a universal problem. When I’m out with my son, without Dad, and he needs the loo – well I hang around outside the men’s and I tell him to whistle or sing the whole time so I can hear him. LOL. But it’s true; here in SA the chances of a child being stolen are extreme, and I’m paranoid in the bargain. When he was younger I took him into the ladies’, and hang whatever anyone said. I couldn’t have cared.

  10. I just have to say the “Where’s my mom?” made me lol….not that I don’t sympathize with the mortification of it, but because if I was a single dad instead of a single mom that is EXACTLY what my boys would do!
    Btw, I know dad acceptance is on the rise here, our school PTA president is a dad!

    • Glad to hear it. And I think it was a fluke that my daughter said that, though I fear when she’s old enough to understand what it means, she’ll realize what a perfect manipulation tool it can be. :)

  11. I remember my dad taking me to the loo in a mall when I was about 4. He ushered me in the ladies and asked a woman to take care of me. I promptly locked myself in the cubicle and couldn’t get out. It was hours before he could convince a security guard that something was seriously wrong and the crying child in the ladies belonged to him. I face the same trauma with my little boys. I end taking them to the wheelchair loo.

  12. Jerry, for God’s sake, publish a dud once in a while. You are setting the bar way too high for blogging. I was trying to write something when this shot into my in-box, cracking me up and making me marvel at all the insight, like always, and now I have writer’s block. Cut it out!

  13. Huh, I never thought too much about this, which is odd considering my dad stayed at home with us. I mean I knew that it was different, but I always thought it was different in a cool way, not a discrimination way. I took pride of my hard working, bread winnin’ mom and my construction worker turned stay at home dad. He must have worked really hard to make sure we never saw our situation as less or different in a bad way.

    I was a synchronized swimmer when I was in middle school, and it was really helpful if someone recorded our routines at practice so we could see our errors. My dad would come to practice and record everyone’s routines, and set up a TV and VCR so we could watch them right away. After reading this, I’m surprised he didn’t get the cops called on him.

    Thanks for this post, it make me appreciate my dad even more. It really took guts to be such an involved father.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, and I agree that it’s different in a cool way. Glad you saw it that way as a kid. It gives me hope for how my kids will see me in a few years. :)

  14. … you just complained about people calling things “mommy-whatever” on a blog called Mommy Man.

  15. Pingback: The “Other Parent” | The J85

  16. I’ve been a stay at home dad for a year now, well Jaydon is 1 so that kind of makes since. Anyway I’ve taken my son Jaydon to two Babygarten classes each lasting 5 weeks. Both times I was the only father and for the first couple of classes I got stares from the other mothers. It was uncomfortable at first but they eventually came around and started talking me.
    I would love to find a dad/child club or group.

    • There have been a couple of attempts in my area to form a dads group on Meetup.com. I haven’t been able to attend any of the events yet, but I want to go soon. Maybe that would work for you in your area?

      It’s definitely tough being a stay-home dad, but worth it. Glad you have the opportunity to join the club! :)

  17. I was snubbed at the tot park by a bunch of moms who assumed I was a clueless dad giving his wife a break. I certainly wasn’t their equal.

  18. What’s strange to me is how location-specific some of these problems can be. I live in Canada and my husband takes my daughter to the park and chats with the other moms, and there’s a stay-at-home dad in my mom’s group who trades off with his wife during day hours and he seems shy, but he’s very welcome (and it’s easy to remember his name when he’s usually the only guy!) One park by our house is definitely dad-dominant and they hang out with babies hanging from their chests and dog leashes in their hands, talking about their sports teams and their kid’s playgroups in the same breath. It’s possible I’m just clueless, because I’ve never caught anyone giving me the stink-eye for breastfeeding in public either (which if you believe the hype, happens constantly) but I like to imagine I just live in a diverse, tolerant community. Here’s hoping that vision (illusion?) never gets shattered!

  19. We have a stay at home Dad in our family, and it’s stretching him a little – but he’s having great time doing the most important job there is. Don’t know how to keep people from making assumptions, but just keep loving & raising your kids. Theirs are really the minds that matter!

  20. I’ll let you in on one of our secrets – moms have learned to wield our most disruptive weapon – we have mastered the art of implying “Give us what we want or Jr.may just have a temper tantrum while I’m standing here arguing with you”. So glad you were freshly pressed, I’ll be back to read more !

  21. Nobody know the trouble I’ve seen….oh wait, you just nailed most of it. I think the figure on stay-at-home dads may be off, but I know as a 2 income family I end up with the kids on the “evening shift” quite often. Even more often by choice as I want to give my wife (and the kids) a break! WE may do it different, but we’re dads and WE GO THIS! ~Regards, Dan

  22. That’s great, you’re there for your kids. Good blog post.

    By the way, the New Yorker Magazine cover seems to feature primarily dads playing with their kids, but ..moms don’t play with their kids? You see the sideline dad is supposed to do cool things…play with their kids, take them to functions after work. See alot of that in commercials. One doesn’t see enough commercials of a dad preparing food for kids/families.

  23. Something that *might* help that “you’re a dude” comment. There is a biological basis for that – even if your therapist didn’t know it. I’m a labor doula & childbirth educator, so I hope this bit of nerd trivia helps. When a newborn is born, you’ve probably heard it’s best for baby to be on mom’s chest, if at all possible, right? Well, the reason is this: A newborn’s brain waves, heart and respiration rates, and temperature are regulated by the chest area between and above mom’s breasts. So, if baby’s too cold, mom’s chest will warm up to compensate. If baby has an apnea episode (all newborns do), it’s mom’s breathing that gets baby back in sync. Men’s chest don’t do that. Even biological dad’s chest.

    So, if your baby was fussing because he or she was too hot/too cold, etc… that might have been at least partially why it was difficult to soothe your baby sometimes. Other times, babies just get moody.

    Also – as a doula, I’ve seen LOTS of babies able to be comforted by Dad when Mom couldn’t. Usually because Mom & Baby were feeding off each other’s stress hormones, and Dad is more chill. So, that’s cool too, I think. :-)

    And I agree with you, wholeheartedly, that men’s restrooms should ALL have changing tables. Period. Some restaurants don’t even have them in the ladies’ room! This, I do not understand. In those cases, I cannot bring myself to use the floor – GAG!

    I hope I see the world become more dad-friendly, as more and more men seem to be turning into darn good fathers these days. I should know – I married one.

    • What an interesting snippet! Gosh! I never knew.
      My oldest was a colic baby and it was Dad who could calm her. She stressed me as much as I stressed her – there can’t be anything that’s worse than your tiny one in pain and you being helpless to change it.

    • I’d like to see a medical source for that “fact” you’ve shared. Also, “biological basis” or not, the comment was unwarranted. If a child has two dads, calling one out for the fact that he is male is unproductive and boarders on misandry.

  24. If it makes you feel any better I actually got the “Perv Stare” once in my local park. I was there with my elderly dog, just standing there where my dog happened to stop to take a break across from the kid’s play ground. One of the mother’s bristled when she saw me watching her daughter go down the slide. I wanted to go over an tell her I’d raised two of my own, but I doubt she’d have believed me. TSA and the modern American mother–one and the same.

  25. “Stay-home dads often fit the perv profile — middle-aged guys who look tired and unshaven, wearing yesterday’s Spaghetti-O-stained t-shirt and seeming as if they didn’t have time to take a shower that morning.”
    Wow, you nailed that one! Perhaps I’d better go back to shaving every day…

    Great post…one I can relate to very easily. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad now for 13 years (and changing diapers for 14 years). Actually, when people ask me what I do, I say I’m a housewife. “Stay-at-home dad” conjures up images of guys who stay at home but don’t do anything, but mention “housewife” and people seem to understand that you do the chores, too.

    You also nailed it regarding television. Not only is everything geared toward Mommy, but in those shows/commercials, the dad is always portrayed as a doofus who’s just like one of the kids. I’m not saying we need to go back to the days of Father Knows Best, but it’s gone too far in the other direction and we need to get to a happy medium.

    At least we have a big backyard, so I don’t have to worry about playgrounds so much. Besides, my wife takes the kids there when she gets home so I can finally get the mowing finished. I been around enough mommy cliques to know I’m not missing anything.

    Glad you got your chance to vent. Thanks for sharing!

    • I was just about to write almost the same exact thing JimV!

      When my son was young, we frequently visited the local playgrounds. I was at a real disadvantage. When you are banished dad, you spend your day with you and your child only. As you are watching your child play, you can’t help but notice the mommy gang gathered on the other side. They seem to be having a great time while the children are playing.

      To further rub it in, as if watching kid shows is not bad enough; you are subjected to commercials that portray the father as some numb skull that can barely operate any form of a tech device and can barely relate to the other family members.

      Well, being alone allowed me to just interact with my son instead of chatting. Dads may be portrayed as complete dorks on t.v. but my stunts on the playground equipment earned me enough “cool dad points” to ensure that I will be a hero for a long time to come.

    • I got that at playgrounds, too. My son was 6 at the time and within 10 minutes everyone but us had left, one mom/kid after another. My son asked “where did everyone go, Dad?” I knew it was because a grown man had just arrived even though I clearly had a small boy that looks like me with me. I never forgot that.

      And yeah I’d get looks when I sat on the bench or stood nearby watching my son play and making sure he didnt hurt himself when he was little, but of course what Moms can do isn’t okay for the Dads who just look creepy, so oftentimes I’d let my self run around like a fool with my son so they could see I was alright.

  26. It is a desperately rare skill to make people laugh while you’re pointing out serious inequality. And you had me at Marissa Tomei at Hillman.

    I am lucky enough to live in a place where people talk about kids’ grownups, not assuming gender or place of business. And the parents I know are more than willing at playgrounds to talk with any other spaghetti-o stained people. There are very few dads at the playground on weekdays, but nobody avoids them or gives them advice or tells them to leave. We all just talk. This is a lonely gig and making quick friends based on a shared shackling to small people is nice.

    Maybe you should move to our ‘hood.

    I’m horrified for you at the therapist who said you had a hard time comforting a baby because you’re male. Shameful. I’m horrified for straight women that they seem to warm up to you only when you out yourself. And I’m really horrified for all of us that open minded parents can’t conqure Lichtenstein. Seriously, what’s the point of raising our children ourselves if we can’t join forces to knock over a nation-state or two?

  27. As a SAHM, I am totally with you on the daytime t.v. thing. It’s horrid. I don’t even bother to turn it on anymore. Best of luck to you, Stay At Home Dad. Even if you face dadscrimination, your kids will thank you for it. :)

  28. It’s a rare skill to be able to make people laugh while you point out inequality. You had me at Marissa Tomei.

    I’m lucky enough to live in a place where people default to “your grownup” instead of assuming a Mom, a Dad, or a hired caregiver. We are all willing to talk with any Spaghetti-o stained adults at the park, perhaps because the shared experience of being shackled to tiny people makes us all willing to make easy friends.

    I have to say I’m horrified at your therapist’s assumption that you had trouble comforting a baby because you’re male. Um, you had trouble comforting a baby because they have a *hard* time when they’re new. I’m also horrified that women only warm up to you when they find out you’re gay. Makes me kind of embarrassed for straight women. But I’m most horrified that we can’t seem to get together to conquer Lichtenstein. What good is staying home to raise your children if we can’t come together to knock over a nation-state or two?

  29. I remember when my son’s best friend wasn’t allowed to come over for a playdate unless I (the mom) was going to be home. Seems it isn’t just strangers in the park that are assumed to be pervs, even dads you know are assumed to be.

  30. I want to praise you for your very witty allusion to A Different World… It was such a great show… (Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert forever!)

    Great insights on this post. So glad I found your blog Jerry! Looking forward to reading more and more and more.

  31. Good point, and good sense of humor! I personally CAN’T STAND Target commercials b/c they are so insistent on reinforcing gender stereotypes. Women are always shown wiping up spills or washing dishes, spare me!

  32. I’ve loved your article in an insane-amount-of-excitement-kind-of-way.The “restroom situation” is a given in Italy as well (not at all surprising, if you consider that the level of equality you have reached in your country is nothing but a distant hope for us), but I’d never thoroughly researched the many aspects and implications of this problem (we have more “basic” training to do: “women raise the children and men go hunting for food” is still the favourite lullaby over here). So thank you for giving me the opportunity to read the perspective of a “professional” dad ;). Would you mind if I shared the link to your post on my blog? I’d like to include your point of view in a rant/essay I’m writing about different sexist behaviours and discriminative cultural norms.

  33. You give several great examples of how both men and women get shafted by traditional gender roles. I learned a couple of new things about the difficulties of being a stay-home dad, so thanks for that. Great post!

  34. This was a fantastic read, very enjoyable! I myself have wondered about the Kola changing table in the men’s rooms. I can very much relate to you perv in the park scenario I have been the recipient of many- a- judgmental stare from the barrage of Mommy Nazi cliques especially since my sons and I do not have the same complexion.

  35. I think the only time you’re allowed to be a stay-at-home dad and not get any weird comments or stares about it is when your job is something that people associate with working from home, like a novelist or something.

  36. Parents get judged no matter what you do. If you’re a mom who wants to go back to work, you’re a bad mom. If you don’t breastfeed, you’re a bad mom. If you put your kid in daycare, you’re a bad parent. If you don’t muzzle them when they cry in a grocery store, you’re a bad parent. You can’t win.

  37. I thought that It was only me. I have a one year old son. I am straight, have a wife, mother in-law and the whole deal. I am amazed to know about this dadscrimination. I mean, I thought about it but I wasn’t sure that it actually existed outside of my head. Everywhere you go- mom this or mom that. Ever since my wife was pregnant, everyone was like “hey, which crib do you like-future to be-mom?”. All questions and opinions where-and still are- for her.
    Aunts and cousins ask my wife which toys to buy for my son while I am right there in front of them. Hey, I used to be a boy, I know what toys we like.
    What the heck am I? Painted on the wall?
    My wife and I were outside of the house once and a woman neighbor came up to us with her newborn. Somehow, we realized that our kid had pooped. Since the ladies were chatting away, I said to them “I’ll be right back, I’m going to change this guy’s diaper”. So the woman asked my wife “Does he really change your son’s diaper?” And she said something like “oh yeah”.
    It shouldn’t be that uncommon and I do feel like us dads (straight or gay) are not considered as we should be. Nice writing, I really enjoyed your post.

    • Great point. Nothing’s funnier than when my partner and I are out with a female friend and she gets the questions about our kids, like how old they are, are they twins, etc. People assume she’s the mom – and if there’s a woman there, she gets the questions not us. Meanwhile, our friend is left to shrug and say, “Beats me. Ask their dads!” :)

  38. Great post, and to a degree, I had a very similar situation 30 years ago. I was a working father, building a business, while have sole custody of my baby daughter. She traveled with me for business, went where I went. We were inseparable.

    At the time, there were zero men’s restrooms equipped for taking care of infants/toddlers.

    I cannot tell you how many times people told me I needed to find a wife and mother for my daughter, always presuming that as a man, I couldn’t manage. Eventually, years later, I did remarry, but not out of necessity, but from love.

    It was difficult, but so rewarding. My daughter is now 30, and we have the most wonderful relationship. Had I the opportunity, I would absolutely take the position of stay-at-home dad. Men can nurture every bit as well as women, when we take the opportunity.

    Being a parent is the best job I’ve ever had.

    Congrats on your freshly pressed.

  39. You are absolutely right, there’s no denying it.

    I live in South America, and I can tell you that SAH dads are a completely unknown race here, so don’t feel bad about there only being 154.000.

  40. Well said Jerry. I am in complete agreement with you. Some Moms are judgmental of SAHDs- they think it’s funny, or just a temporary thing. I can speak from experience that my husband often has a better intuition than me with our baby, now why shouldn’t he have the same opportunity as me to spend every second with her?

    I have to laugh when people watch my husband interacting with our baby. They always comment on how “good” he is with her. It’s his kid too, isn’t it?

    Congratulations of being Freshly Pressed.

  41. I love the humor you add to your discussion and it is a very well articulated position at that. I just wanted to say “Way to go!” for choosing what’s best for your family and managing the idiots in the world as best you can. It’s a great example for your kids.

  42. Having just joined the ranks of stay-at-home dads (Akin’s 10 weeks), I have become acutely aware of Dadscrimination (love that term btw, brilliant). As an art director/designer I’ve been been fully aware of the media world’s female slant on 9 to 5 TV, but I never had to think of more practical things like changing tables. When you have to strategically plan your errands around who has Koala Kares in the men’s room, there’s an issue. For businesses to assume that women still do all the diapering is an antiquated notion that should have died with the last “I Dream of Genie” episode. Fathers who don’t change diapers are lazy and silly. And don’t even get me started on the gender-role, social brainwashing that still pervades down here in the South. Now where are some reruns of A Different World? I’m feeling a little Marissa Tomei.

  43. Great read… I love the family bathrooms, when my daugter (3years) and I have to pick a restroom, say at a theater, i am much more comfortable taking her there than taking here in the mens bathroom. Its just weird. Cheers on the blog i can relate to it all. Although when she was a baby i never entered a bathroom that didnt have a changing table, i guess i am lucky in that.

    BTW:
    “Look, I buy the Lemon Pledge in my family. Would it kill you to show a dude dusting his fine wooden surfaces now and then?”

    Hilarious

  44. I hang out with three stay at home dads who are part of our playgroup and it has been enlightening to hear of the challenges they encounter in a mommy-centric world, many of which you touch on here! And we have also encountered the difficulty of finding changing tables in men’s restrooms; so unfun when V’s daddy is ready for his turn at the changing table, and they have to leave the bathroom to come find me because there is no space for them to do so in the men’s room. I love your post!

  45. Stay-at-home dads are actually quite common here in SA. Especially now with our AA preventing many males of a certain minority from getting jobs they would be well qualified to do. The result is that women cop more of the income earning (also unfair because women still get paid less for the same job than men do) and men do more home chores and childcare. As a very dedicated mom I’m not really impressed with this situation, it is deeply unfair to take men’s pride away like that and render them dependent on their wives, and equally unfair to force women who’d want to be more full-time mothers, to be breadwinners instead. But of course where politics prevail… and it turns out that while dads parent differently, they do it well anyway. My hubbs (who is a self-employed entrepreneur like myself too) does all the best cooking these days, when I make food it’s always just basic and efficient; he puts “mother love” into it. He is also usually the one who sees to it that the sprogs practice violin – talking of the cobbler’s children walking barefoot, as they say here…

    The first time I encountered a stay-at-home dad was back in the Eighties – our neighbours were from Germany and while she was a schoolteacher, he was a lawyer and could therefore not practice in South Africa. He referred to himself as a “houseman” (as opposed to “housewife”). He was a total character and nobody would have thought him a perv. Also, my dad regularly took us “out of the house” to give my mom a break. Nobody looked at him askew and this is a cool three decades in the past.

    Great post, I definitely agree with the Koala stations in men’s rooms. ;)

  46. “Most women just don’t respect men who stay home with their kids.”

    A significant number of those women are jealous that you aren’t their husband, gayosity notwithstanding. They’re going all “sour grapes” on you.

  47. Dude, I’ve been home for 10 years with my kids and you’ve captured a ton of the nuances here…makes little difference if you’re gay or straight it would appear. Stuck the drop-in playgroups out of sheer stubborness in my neighbourhood and now I’m the one people hand their baby to for soothing. Cheers!

  48. Hilarious post – the truth’s so much funnier than fiction. Thanks for your post. Good luck with the kids – try an energy bar if you need it to keep up. Kids almost never get tired. I used to babysit for my grandkids and loved every exhausting minute. It was interesting, being a male who was feeding, changing, bathing, and loving small children. There’s NO more important job. Cheers to you Dad!!
    Congrats on being FP!

  49. My dad is gay. I am sure he got a lot of strange looks when my youngest sister would throw temper tantrums in public and he couldn’t stop her. Nobody could. She was the type that would yell, “you’re not my mommy!” just for spite. Loved your post. My husband does change diapers, but luckily where we live the public restrooms tend to have diaper changing centers for both genders. I look forward to more of your posts!

  50. As a stay-at-home mom, I say more power to you! All kinds of Dads should care more about the things you are venting about, then maybe things would be different for the dads of the world. oh and I just wanted to say that I can relate to this statement, “Thanks, I’m doing fine, and you can spare me your advice, strangers. I prefer to screw my kids up my way, not yours.” I am a first time mom and I have thought this often about advice from strangers and people I know! Stay at home moms and dads have much more in common than they probably realize! :)

  51. Nice post.

    I’m a SAHM, but I have a friend who’s a work-from-home dad, and a neighbor who’s a stay-at-home dad. I think it’s good for society to have an improved balance.

    Fortunately, our local Park Authority’s classes are all done up as “Toddler & Me” or “Baby & Me,” but it’s still rare to have even close the number of dads as moms (better on weekends than weekdays). I was in a class once where there were 2 guys and 2 gals. One guy was a grandpa though.

    Interestingly, around where I am, the problem with the women is that half of the ones you see during the day are full-time sitters, nannies, or au pairs. I’ve never managed to find a playgroup either, for what it’s worth.

    That said, my husband has reported feeling like an outsider at preschool, but I’ve not gotten that from the “regular” male picker-upers.

    I will say that the teachers at schools/daycare/Gymboree/whatever who say “person who loves you” are my favorites. It covers everything from nannies, aunts, grandparents, family friends, to moms and dads. I try to tell them I think it’s great.

    Oh, and not all ladies rooms have changing tables…

    • Everybody should be saying “person who loves you” for that sort of a thing. There should be a nationwide notice that is the new Politically correct way of saying it. It would’ve made me feel a lot better, as the kid of a single dad. The only problem is the implication for kids who can’t have their parents or anybody come for them, but I think most kids wouldn’t think of that. But you could say, “person who loves you who can show up” but it’s a little long I think.

      • I hadn’t thought of that, since I was thinking of things like pickup after a class or preschool or something.

        Other good ways I’ve heard are:

        somebody here for you
        a special person to/for you
        somebody you’d like to hug
        a person who takes care of you

        Admittedly, these are all a heck of a lot longer than “mom or dad,” but if it’s typically parents, people COULD just say “parent.”

      • That makes sense. Those are a lot better, I usually go with “Guardian”, but that’s probably because I know a lot divorced kids, or orphans who live with relatives or foster care kids.

  52. gay super dad how stupid is that when my childrens mother died i did what i had to do. this conversation is ludacrist and do not mean the rap arist and its not gay if i have this right its homosexual and lizbian which does not work for me

  53. It warms my heart to know there are men that out there that care about this kind of treatment of men and their children. Especially in the US. It wasn’t until i moved abroad that I realized how fucked our treatment of men around children is. Its perfectly normal, accepted and expected for men to take care of their kids in many other countries. Even be teachers to kids of small children, like kindergarten. Keep doing what you’re doing. I have tons of respect for you and men like you.

    PS I have no idea what the post two above me was trying to say. I’ve read it three times and I’m still trying to puzzle it out.

  54. Nice post indeed, funny and enjoyable. I have never seen that park scene from the New Yorker either, but some day we’ll get there.

    My kids are older now, but I remember the perv stares and mommy cliques very well. I was a teen dad, so I could never tell if the stares were of the ‘perv’ variety or if they had to do with judgements regarding my age. They probably just assumed I was the older brother until one of my kids piped up with a “Daddy!”. There was no winning at the park with the moms, alas – but it was always a small victory to trade the perv stare for the warm glow of the babies-having-babies glare. The mommy cliques were also a different ball game. They looked like they could’ve been my own mom. ah, yes, wonderfully awkward times…

    Doing the full-time dad thing is awesome, I tip my hat. Stay strong with the Netflix. Solidarity!

  55. Right on! The same sort of subtle discrimination goes on in all forms of advertising. Men are consistently bashed and belittled in ways that would never be tolerated if they were talking about women in the same fashion. Gender equality, my eye!

  56. The secret to dealing with mom-cliques is to be so uncomfortably shy that you’re grateful that they don’t talk to you. That’s how I’ve managed all these years.

    I teach toddler and preschool classes at my zoo, and we avoid the “Mommy and Me” kind of titles for the very reason that we want anyone who wants to have a good time with their kid to feel welcome.

    And the bathroom thing really gets to me, too. We’ve had so many occasions where a kid has skunked their drawers because they’ve been out with Dad, and he couldn’t find a bathroom that’s clean enough to let them take care of business.

  57. Great post. I have to say that your absolutely right and I lament that Dadscrimination occurs, I have to say I never realized it went to the extent it did ( like when you explained the bathroom changing situation).
    Congrats on the FP btw! Definietely following for me :)

  58. I completely agree with you about the “dadscrimination.” You have no idea how many times I’ve flipped out in a public place because I’m the one who gets to change the nasty diaper – all because the world thinks men can’t handle baby poop. But I will say this, I don’t know any moms who would consider a stay at home dad lazy. I’m pretty sure most men would love to be stay at home dads but they cannot, because they are the primary breadwinner. Most moms I know think stay at dads are cool (and yes we are afraid of the good looking ones because we’ve all seen Little Children and don’t fault Kate Winslet’s character at all!)

  59. So much of this rings true for our experience, and you certainly have a lot of supporters here, so I feel OK to dissent on one point: lots of us see SAHD and think “that’s a confident guy who recognizes that parenting skills and wage-earning skills are not gender-coded, and I bet he supports his wife/partner’s career and neither of them are too hung up on mommy/daddy roles and gee I bet they turn out to have great kids, even if he does eat more fritos in the daytime than he might otherwise.” At least, that’s been my perspective and experience–I have the full time professional gig; the hubby stays at home, and now that the boys are tweens, hubby has taken on parttime work in his field and has time to be a community activist. We’re definitely making a much better impact on the world than if our roles were reversed.

  60. I respect any dad who drops a reference to “A Different World”. Seriously though, as a child raised by a single father the mommy-centric view of parenting was not only irritating but emotionally distressing for me at times. “Tell your mom”, “Ask your mom”, or “Give this to your mom” is a pretty constant reminder that she’s not around. Keep fighting the good fight! You sound like a pretty great dad to me.

  61. Great post! My dad worked the night shift as a nurse so he was always with in the day time while my mom worked days and stayed with us at night. My dad did all of the things that people expect moms to do. He also taught me how to cook. Go Dad!

  62. I agree with the comment “you sound like a pretty good dad to me.” We have been though this as well with our children. The disrespect of the father begins at the day care “do you have permission to pick up your son?”… I mean, what the heck does it mean when the school has to call me to see if my own husband and father of the children has “permission” or if it is “correct’ that he is picking them up? UNREAL. Love your blog!

  63. I had to come back to say I agree with AbbyEscArt and also wanted to emulate what Tyler Stone said in the above comments. Congrats on being freshly pressed. Your blog is excellent food for though. Thank you!

  64. I loved this post! I laughed at loud as I read it, especially about the perv at the park. haha. My uncle is a stay at home dad and has been for 13 years now. He’s had similar experiences with moms groups at first but slowly wore them down. Now he’s the dad that all the stay at home moms want to hang out with.

  65. Like many of the commenters, the support is there… I’m sure if you had this piece on a billboard, plastered to your forehead, people will cut you some slack and be able to sympathize with you. But sadly, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the entire barrel. As long as there are examples of those anecdotal fail-dads, the stigma will continue to stick.
    Anyways, keep fighting the good fight and stay strong. Your kids will love and thank you for it in the years to come. And really, only their opinions of you matters in this world. Peace~

    • That’s a good point. Moms get that too. If your kid gets the fussies when you’re out, forget that they’re teething and it’s just been a rough day, there’s always people who assume you don’t discipline your kid, or are totally inept. If there weren’t people who didn’t discipline (or were totally inept), those people muttering would assume your kid is having a bad day and/or you’re about to take care of the situation.

      Bad apples ruin things without regard to sex/gender/socioeconomic status/etc.

      • Yes, you’re totally right. I didn’t meant to make my comment gender-specific. Was only bringing to light the matter of bad apples. Everyone has bad days… it’s only a matter of luck whether they happen in private matters or with public audiences… haha
        Then again, I’ve seen parents who take their kids out, let them loose unsupervised while they enjoy their *insert couples private time activitie here*, while their kids are wrecking havoc on other kids, people, buildings & equipments ,animals, etc.

  66. Nice post…I’m sorry that you and other Dads may feel slighted, though, please know that moms-epecially the “stay-at-home” kind (like that means we stay home and don’t work our tale off 24/7) still encounter our own difficulties and biases in daily life although it may not be the same as Dads but it may explain why you run into the over-emphasis on “mommy and me” sort of activities and gatherings. Keep up the blessed work of raising your children with Drew and your awesome writing. One parent to another-R.V.S.B.

  67. Enjoyed your post and think it is true here in the UK too. It also pisses my husband off that so many adverts for household products seem to focus on the male being unable to do any of the routine chores properly and need a woman (plus approriate brand) to help them do it. He was always better at the baby stuff than me (apart from BF of course!!)

  68. I know this all too well. As a young man who enjoys being around young children, teaching them and playing with them, I have to always be careful how my behavior might look to someone else. I’m not a dad so I have to be extra careful. There’s a lot of pre-conceived notions that society still needs to drop.

    Incidentally, it reminds me of some lyrics from a song

    “Thou shalt not call a man over 30 who plays with a child who is not his own a paedophile — some people are just nice.”

  69. Although advertisers are slow to catch on, I have been seeing an upswing in advertisers using men as the family caretakers and several television shows are picking up on the importance of men being the stay-home parent, as well as gay couples raising their children (I’m thinking Modern Family-one of my DVR’d shows).

    Several weeks ago I wrote about this subject in my blog: http://debracolbyconklin.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/role-reversal/

    And for my column, Mom’s Eye View, http://www.exploringlincoln.com/?s=debra+colby-conklin

    I believe men can and should be one of the most important guiding forces behind our children’s development and more support is needed to make the public aware that looking down upon a man who chooses to be that force in their child’s life is someone who needs a reality check.

    • Ha-ha. A medal? Well that’s a bit too much. But yes, sometimes changing a diaper is not for the faint of heart. Specially when the kid has diarrhea and soils his pants, shoes, shirt, socks, you name it.

  70. Well written. My husband had a complaint about the bathrooms and trying to change a kid when they were little. He went into a mens room, that actually had a changing table, but the looks he got from the men in there were awful. He said you would have thought that he had asked one of them to change our son’s diaper. I guess it wasn’t viewed as masculine enough or something. So you all get it from both sides, the men and the women. Great post

  71. This a great post and true for even dads who don’t stay at home. My husband is a great dad. He does everything I do with and for our kids. And yes, the bathroom is a big issue! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  72. How often my in-laws – upon finding out that I was alone with the kids will say “oh! Are you babysitting today?” To which I would respond each and every time “why no, I’m parenting actually.” =)

  73. Such a great post. This is your second time being freshly pressed isn’t it? Congratulations! I’m sure I read the names Bennett and Sutton in a post about 5 people you meet as a gay dad? Such lovely names x

  74. I was a nanny for the past two and a half years and I don’t plan on ever becoming a mommy, so I was always skeptical of the way the other “mommies” would act. I live in Asheville, NC, which is pretty daddy friendly, but still, one of my favorite games to pass the time was count the daddies versus mommies. One day though, I have to say, there were 8 men at the park and I was the only woman! It was actually quite fantastic. I, not being a mommy, didn’t usually try to chitchat with the other parents, and would feel more left out when all the moms were talking together. With the dads, none of them were talking to each other really, and they were just focused on having a good time with their children. I felt much for comfortable in that group than with women.
    Thanks for this post.. I think the more men like you talk about being a daddy, and giving other men support, we will see more and more daddies and granddaddies and uncles and male cousins, out there with kids!

  75. I’m a stay-at-home dad, and I run into the no changing table problem all the time. Many times I’ve had to change a dirty diaper while stretching a kid out on my lap. I also hate it if I forget something when I’m out and moms give me the “incompetent” look. Nobody gives that look to other mothers.

    • Oh, yes they do. The next time a kid is screaming in a waiting room with adults or a grocery store watch other adults instead of the kid. It’s likely that you’ll se that look. Fortunately, you’ll also see sympathetic looks from people who have been there. I’m sure that there are some of those sent your way, too, esp when changing a diaper on your lap!

      I do agree that mommies are given more slack for “mommy brain” forgetfulness. Keep your chin up and keep asking for family restrooms and more changing tables.

  76. As a stay at home dad myself, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in seeing this discrimination in action.

    I was at a library story time recently, and in a rare attempt to be social, I asked one of the other moms a question. She answered slowly and loudly, as if we were in a foreign country and I could not understand English! I couldn’t help but start to laugh, I wanted to say ‘I’m a Dad, not Deaf!’.

  77. Fantastic. Love this!! I’m a mom and in advertising and this has bugged me for years! I remember being in a meeting 4 years ago bringing research to the table to say how we can’t ignore dads, make fun of them in ads, and that they are a HUGE part of parenting. Whether a single dad, two dads or a dad & mom, dads are still quite overlooked and often stereotyped. Awesome article.

  78. Inspiring post! I’m a proud single Dad of an awesome three and a half year old Son, and your words bring back a lot of raw memories …it was painful having to fight for more of a balanced life in terms of more frequent / more consistent contact with my Son after his lovely Mum and I sadly split up, simply because my Son’s Mum and the rest of the World apparently, regard you as ‘just’ a Dad! Life is better now, but as a Dad, it feels like you really have to prove yourself to earn any vaguely reminiscent sense of equality as a parent, though, as a parent …I guess you never stop ‘fighting’ to be there for your kid(s)!

  79. I live in the UK and have to say things are much better here, most places have somewhere for a man to change a kid, and I’ve never had any trouble. Still, it is annoying when parenting = mother, because it doesn’t in any family I know.

  80. One needs only to watch a few hours of tv, and see the commercials to realize that this is truly happening. In every commercial, dad is dumb, or un-cool, or a failure, or bad for some other variety of reasons. Dad is over-bearing, he doesn’t want the kids or mom to have any fun. He can’t use a cell-phone, twitter, or facebook. He can’t put things together properly, the deck he builds falls down, the bike he put together on christmas eve falls apart, etc. etc. etc….What this is really about is putting a wedge between dad and the family, because dad will say “No” No to spending money on worthless crap, no to getting into troublesome or dangerous situations. Dad says NO. So there is a media war going on to discredit Dad. Dad is basically being relegated to a servant role. “Just bring home the money, hand it to us, and then shut up.”, dad’s are being told. “Television has provided us with plenty of fallacious reasoning, semantic logic, and blatant lies to shut you up, so don’t even try it.” “We’ll let you know when you can ‘serve’ us some more.” This agenda is being pushed by advertising interests that know if you put the ‘power of the purse’ in the hands of kids, you can charge too much, for things bought too often; simple as that. This isn’t really an issue of mom vs dad. It’s just that dad was the easiest and most important target in this money war.

  81. I am totally hearing you with the “perv stares at park” section.

    I imagine that for some dads, the suspcious moms can deduce that they DO have a kid there, due to family resemblence. But since my kiddos are adopted, (and they were blessed not to be born “pasty caucasian” like Dad) my little ones look nothing like me, so I will always be the creeper at the playground.

    Great post – one of the best I’ve read in a while.

  82. While I’m not a stay-at-home dad (my daughter is 10), I totally relate to this post. Not many things in this world offend me, but the “dad-as-a-clueless buffoon” stereotype bothers me immensely. It’s followed closely by “husband-as-a-clueless-buffoon” stereotype. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of an absent-minded professor type, but I’m not stupid. I’m so tired of guys who, sometimes unwittingly, play in to the notion that the man would be completely helpless without the help of his wife. Give yourself some credit, guys!

    Great post. I’m glad you wrote it.

  83. You know, back in the day before we began to really have these conversations, my dad was the one who changed our poopy diapers. He was the one who got up with us in the night for our 2 am feedings (we’re both adopted, so no breastfeeding). He worked full time, but he often took me (before my sis came along) or both of us out while my mom was working–they lived on the family ranch, so my dad had a “town” job and my mom worked for her dad on the ranch, and that often included weekends when Daddy was home.

    The fact that men and women maybe believed they had certain roles back then didn’t negate the fact that lots of dads spent time with their kids. Of course, there were no Koala Kares at all in those days, so public diaper changes generally happened in the back of the station wagon no matter WHO had to perform them. It seems that as we make this big noise (we: women, feminists, etc) to move away from the misogyny of the past, we are actually creating MORE mommy- and female-centric spaces in which men are discriminated against. I don’t think we can have it both ways.

  84. I love this! You are right – Mom’s do not solely own the right to wipe poopy tushies! As someone who has been both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, I have to admit I never really thought about this side of the equation – how stay-at-home Dads must feel. You brought this issue to light in a wonderful, humorous way and I hope your post makes many, many people think (although, sadly, I think you may still have to deal with the “perv in the park” problem given the number of real pervs that are out there…) All the best to you and your family :)

  85. Great article! And kudos on being Freshly Pressed. I too am a stay-at-home dad (for full disclosure, I’m not gay and believe it is wrong to be gay). I am all for involved & responsible fathering. Absent fathers contribute to increased crime, poverty, school drop-out rates, addictions, etc. A recent study estimated that government spends $100 billion / yr on programs to make-up for absent fathers. Children need to hear you say ‘I love you. I’m proud of you. You are good at (insert what you child is good at).’ A couple of places that I recommend for fathering advice – National Fatherhood Initiative & All Pro Dad. And visit the website I maintain for my church’s Mens Ministry – MENofCALVARY.wordpress.com

    • Why would you ruin such a nice comment with such an ugly statement? “Wrong to be gay”? OK, fine, you’re free to think that. But why would you think I’d want (or need) to hear that on my blog? Can’t you just be happy to have found some common ground with me in this post, without inserting your judgment into it? It’d be nice if people could disagree without being divisive.

    • What a silly comment. There is nothing to agree or disagree with as far as sexual orientation is concerned. People are who they are and your disapproval doesn’t change a thing! You have far more in common with gay dads than you realize if you don’t let your Christian bigotry blind you. This dadscrimination is something ALL men have to contend with regardless of their sexual orientation or racial background.

  86. A small anecdote for you: My cousin lives in Stockholm, is married and has 2 kids. When I was there visiting in December she told me that she had once overheard an American girl saying to her friend ‘it’s so cool; they all have gay nannies here [in Stockholm]!’. My cousin clarified that they were the fathers taking their kids out. This says a lot about so much, but the bit that annoyed me the most about that comment was the assumption that a man pushing around a baby in a pushchair was ‘obviously gay’! I’m sure that says a lot about me as well…

  87. I’m a gay SAHD, too. I’m lucky enough to live in an organo-groovy college town with a playgroup for SAHDs and their kids, they didn’t know what to do with gay dads, either. But yeah, the same problem. “Mommy” is the default mode here, too, but at least there are changing stations in the men’s rooms.

  88. I was raised by my Dad, from the age 10 onward, and I’ve seen this sort happen all the time.

    In my parents’ divorce, it was pretty obvious who should have gotten the kids, by the end of it my mother had 12 counts of child abuse, but it still took 5 years for the cops, the court, the guardian litem, department of child and family services, to realize even with our child testimonies that my Dad was the only parent worth looking at for custody.

    Because of expected gender roles, my dad got a lot of crap from people growing up. He has also routinely had random moms in all the neighborhoods we moved to that once they found out that he was a single parent decide to come over and force their pity dinners on us, even knowing that he’d been cooking us dinner for over 10 years at that point, and didn’t need any help, they said that we must be tired of all the food that my dad knew how to make because men are only limited to a few recipes and can’t cook. Trying to help him out by taking us out on girl dates, teaching us girl things that he already had covered. It was insulting. I remember practically being barred from all the mother-daughter crap, and being an outcast in traditional Utah, and still when I talk to older people, they say that my mother taught me such good manners and that they’d like to meet her, and I must love her so much, if my friends are there, they’ll just explain it for me, because having no mom requires an explanation but having no dad doesn’t.

    Almost my entire town knew what was going on by the end of it. But parents and teachers would still misstep and ask for help from mom’s and force me to do Mother’s Day projects and if I substituted “Dad” for “Mom” on them, I got in a lot of trouble until the school counselor would come down and talk to them.

    Dadscrimination is more prevalent than people realize. In your standard temporary divorce order (and I’ve seen a lot of them by now) the mother will automatically get full custody no matter what, instead starting out at joint custody like what would be fair. I’ve heard a fair number of judges (Male and Female) as well as lawmakers who say that a child can only be nurtured by it’s mother, and it’s just not true.There’s also programs like WIC (Women with infant children) and scholarships and programs for single mothers but not single dads, and if a dad dare apply for them, he gets laughed at.

    Also only women seem to be allowed to miss their children, but guys wanting to get visitation when they’re paying child support (which don’tchya know every man has to be forced to pay because all men don’t actually want kids) are laughed at, and it’s not enforced.

    I imagine that a family with 2 dads gets a lot more crap for being men, than my dad did as a single parent. Plus the crap that I get for being a motherless girl. I sincerely hope that it goes well for you in spite of the huge biases working against you. Sorry I went a little long in my own experiences, it sort of turned into a rant rather than a comment and I apologize.
    Good Luck!
    -Riles

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story, Riles. I loved hearing it. Sorry for all you had to go through, but your dad sounds amazing. I have to admit I’m the kind of dad who only knows a few recipes myself, so my hat’s off to him for being a good cook on top of everything else! :)

  89. I am totally not plugging my own blog here, but given what I blogged about last night, this was quite the interesting read. I am a stay-at-home mother (and have been since I was 19). Almost four years ago, I lost my two oldest sons in a custody case. While I agree with what you are saying (mommy-centric world), I am an exception to the rule. I was given the shaft. Read the blog and let me know what you think. Grab some tissues if you tend to get emotional. It’s a tear-jerker. Even four years later.

    lauriejlong.wordpress.com

  90. I don’t stay at home, but face (and have faced) the same things. I lost my wife last year and have had to raise my kids alone. SO much of the world looks at the raising of kids by Dads as just so impossible. I get it, there are so many chauvinistic throwbacks still out there, but raising kids alone you have to have the “mother’s intuition” along with the firm disciplinarian in balance. Then go through the world and have your 9-year-old ask you why there aren’t any Dads on the picture of the detergent ad? (No, I’m not plugging my own blog here, I’m just commenting. Won’t even paste a link! Just liked your article!)
    By the Way . . . I lived that diaper changing moment SO many times – even when my wife was alive. I had days where I cared for the babies alone. Can’t tell you how many times I carried a makeshift changing pad with me for that dirty men’s room floor, or knew the precise spot on the back seat that balance the baby so it didn’t roll one way or another off the pad . . . made me laugh and feel so happy I’ve gotten through all that!

    • Thanks for the comment and for sharing your story. I’m very sorry for your loss. As a family that’s never had a mom or wife, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have one and then lose her.

      Oh, and I found your blog anyway, so ha ha! :)

      • Ha! Well, I’m not one to try and snipe readers from another’s blog if it’s not warranted, and I just wanted to share how I’ve seen the same things.
        While you’re a different kind of family than ours is/was, it doesn’t change that you’re a family. Loss is loss, and my message is and always has been “we’re stronger together than we are apart.” That message stands no matter what your family’s makeup is. I just want people to appreciate the time and people they have around them, it’s all just too short. Thanks for reading! I’ll do the same!

  91. I just wanted to say that I am a woman with no kids, but I have often sympathized with men who are raising their kids, be it single or with their partner, for the very reasons you stated. Parenting products (magazines) and food seem to all be geared toward the mother, leaving one to assume that they think that the father doesn’t know or doesn’t care enough about his kids to be able to take care of them. I’m glad you addressed this.

  92. Thanks for your article. Some of the “Mommy” set is quite understanding yet I’m constantly surprised how many women and men can’t fathom the idea that a Dad can raise kids when Mommy isn’t around. It seems as though every church has a single moms group, a Moms Offering Moms Support group, Monthly dinner to support single moms, and single fathers are completely excluded. If we work from home and make a decent living then it is assumed we must really not do anything or we just neglect our children. As a single dad, I’m proud to say that I’m “that Dad” who takes his kids to school, makes their lunch, takes them to the park (and fends off the looks), and who has a close relationship with my kids that most dads can’t even fathom.

  93. As a SAHM, I am totally with you on the daytime t.v. thing. It’s horrid. I don’t even bother to turn it on anymore. Best of luck to you, Stay At Home Dad. Even if you face dadscrimination, your kids will thank you for it.

  94. It is quite unsettling not to mention frustrating that after all that work of fighting for equal rights and proving that women and moms can work outside the home, that dads and stay at home dads are discriminated against like this. Women can do what men do but many do not think that applies the other way around.
    How sad that the view of the mom is still linked to the stay at home mom, the housekeeper, the cook, waiting with a smile on her face and slippers in hands when dad comes home after a hard day of work. This view is still ingrained into our society’s psyche. It’s as if no matter how we have tried and think we have moved far away from that, we really haven’t traveled that far.
    To address the whole perv issue. We are taught that men are sex obsessed beasts, constantly looking at porn not to mention other things every single man does that a majority of women “don’t do” or aren’t suppose to. And many assume that since men have sex on the brain 24/7 then they are more likely to be perverts, therefore having a need to abduct children. Which is completely unjustified not to mention utterly ridiculous. And God forbid dads take their children into a MEN’S RESTROOM to change their diaper because apparently a men’s restroom is crawling with perverts.
    Mom’s are celebrated in every shape and form. Bravo if you work and are a mom. How incredible that you are a single mom! Why can’t dads get the same praise. It is entirely sexist and flat out discrimination. If we as a society truly want equality between the genders then we need to stop seeing mom as thee parent with the distant, aloof dad that knows nothing about raising children. This view is a complete lie that should be exposed.

    • > I know dadscrimination isn’t the worst form of bias. Nobody’s making us sit in the back of any buses or denying us the right to vote.

      That’s not the case at all. Women have the option of going out to work and making partner.

      Men in the other hand are still bound by the provider and incapable of nurturing stereotype. It’s a stereotype that limits men, not women (directly).

  95. My husband and I can feel your pain – we’ve had a terrible time finding a playgroup for our son and I think it’s because the moms are uncomfortable with my husband being the one who brings him. And we were at the National Zoo in DC and discovered there was not a changing table in the men’s bathroom – are you freakin’ kidding me?!?

  96. Love this! As a mom I think it would be great if the world made it easier or more acceptable for all dads to take their kids out to the park, I know I could use the break lol. This is 2012 time to realize everyone can care for a child! Thanks for the post next time I am in the park I will be sure to welcome the dad in the corner!

  97. I think all those ladies are jealous of you taking over child care. His “poor wife trying to make partner” may have sighed with relief when she left for work. Raising a child was harder than any “outside” job I ever had! Love the post!

  98. It is also an insult to women when building and community planners assume that only women will be changing their babies. Sorry you are having so much trouble trying to break into that whole “Mothers’ Group thing.” If you moved to my side of the planet, you would be more than welcome to join our group. We are all Mums but have welcomed the Dads and the odd Uncle to our group when they have been able to come. When it comes to talking about breastfeeding, I think it is a topic that men should be involved in, if only to assure insecure new breastfeeding Mums that it is a normal thing to do. Hang in there.

  99. This was hilarious. Marisa Tomei at HIllman with Denise Huxtable … I know what you mean.

    Even though I’m a mom, I’m not hanging with the “mom” groups at the park either. They’re sort of an interesting breed. Some of them remind me of high school cliques. Although I guess it depends on the area.

  100. Thanks for the great article and a good laugh to start the day! My husband was a stay-at -home Dad for a year, and was amazed by the looks he got from mothers when he waited outside school to pick our three-year-old up…. You’re right to point out that whilst some women complain about men not being involved in bringing kids up, they immediately presume that a man in the playground is a perv rather than a parent…. Great blog: to quote a certain somebody, I’ll be back!

  101. Interesting article. Am living in Sweden, where stay-at-home dady-ing is somewhat more accepted ( and expected ), so things were easier for me when I was at home with each of my three children. We, at least, never had the toilet problem, because most of the mens restrooms do have the necessary facilities for nappy changes ( or , alternatively, there is one of those family rest rooms you mentioned in your blog). Still, even with more acceptance in place, as a dad with your children in a park or at a playground you still are amongst the most lonely individuals on earth. While all moms cluster together, they still eye you somewhat suspiciously as if you would be some kind of closet perv stalking small kids when in reality all you do is letting your young ones play in the sand box.

  102. Hey hi
    Great post. By the way i did not know there were so many stay-at-home dad. After reading your post and looking at the comments made me realise what else is happening around the world. :)

  103. “I know dadscrimination isn’t the worst form of bias. Nobody’s making us sit in the back of any buses or denying us the right to vote.”

    Actually this bias has caused men to loose custody of their kids. Can you think of what us more valuable than raising your kids and watching them grow?!?

    I’m sure your kids are more valuable than a vote.

    Still, great article!

  104. Another issue I have run into in my five plus years as a stay-at-home dad (which is not entirely accurate as I work a night job, which by the way is far less stressful than my day job): men do not respect you. I cannot tell you how many times I have been rebuffed by professional men in social situations as a “less than”. It is a shame, they don’t even know what they are missing.

  105. I admire your resilience. No stay at home dads where I come from, although more involved dads aren’t looked at weirdly. If anything, they are admired. Were they to stay at home, now that would be a bit of a culture shock. We’re still a few steps behind.
    Great post, and congrats on the FP!

  106. You are so on the money with this, even on the other side of the atlantic it all rings true, well, apart from ‘I’m going to vouch for straight dads, too. They’re not trying to look at your boobs.’ Well I think that myself and some of my pals would be pleading the fifth amendment there, but in essence I’d agree with the general sentiment. What has been astounding is at the school gates the stuff you hear from the mums, that as a straight guy would have been so useful to know age 18! Lifes learning curves would have been far shallower, shallower even, than me.

    I totally get the ‘If dads aren’t changing their kids, they should be’. That to me is a right of passage, (excuse the euphamism), for a dad. If you haven’t been covered in cack and thinking ‘I could have been a vet and actually been getting paid for this!’ then you aren’t yet, a qualified ‘dad’. Recently we had a family issue involving a fast departure for my wife and other family members. My brother in law turned up with his small child, that unnanounced I was to left in charge of, and hadn’t spent any time with, a cracking start then, ho hum…

    Well as the child (3.5 yrs) was handed over, it had that certain aroma about it. Not ‘Napalm in the morning’ but, well, you know, you’re parents… ‘You can sort that out before I take charge of it’ I advised him with steeley Dirty Harry (rather than dirty botty) look in my eye. The picture was perfect, a first timer struggling on the front lawn, broad daylight, with a full diaper, (the child, not BIL but it was a close run thing), his first ‘Dad 101′ in full aroma, technicolor, and surroundsound. Pure poetry.

    It got more interesting later on. I had to do the school run. Small child now wanted mummy and daddy, who were ‘over the horizon’, ‘out of Dodge’, unavailable etc etc.
    I got child into the car and drove off to collect the other kids, keenly aware that when I turned up at school I would have a kid with me whom the other mums knew wasn’t mine. And when I strapped it in the car seat it’d be screaming ‘I want my Mum’ at the top of its voice.

    How I laughed at that one.

    Thanks for a great posting that reminded me what it is to be a ‘dad’
    nm

  107. I’ve been a gay rights advocate for years, but this issue has honestly never crossed my mind until I read your post. Thank you for enlightening me! I’ve never thought about changing tables in men’s restrooms or tv ads being mom-centric, but it’s true. It’s extremely rare for a company to offer paternity leave, even though it would make sense.

    Even if the guy’s wife gets maternity leave, I guarantee she would appreciate having her husband home to support her through all the craziness and stress newborns come packaged with.

    oh, and I love what you said about if guys aren’t changing diapers by now, they should be! I agree!

  108. I can only imagine how frustrating dadiscrimination is. Staying at home with your child can be so isolating. It’s not that you don’t love being with your kid, it’s that you need support, adult interaction, and community. I’m currently on maternity leave with my baby and don’t think I would be (sanely) surviving without the community of moms I know. It makes me sad that SAHD’s have a hard time finding that community. I had never really thought about dadiscrimination, but now I’ll think of your post the next time I see some dads at the park.

  109. Wonderfully well-written post. Thank you for sharing a side of parenting many of us don’t get to see. What you’re doing is incredible, and it’s too bad society isn’t more open-minded and helpful to the men caring for their children full-time. The last thing any stay-at-home parent needs is to be treated like an outsider.

  110. Nicely written (and congrats on the FP). My Husband has been a stay at home dad for the last 8 years. He’s done a great job, but I’ve seen/he’s seen everything you mention over and over again. The bit that drives me most nutty is the idea that he is lazy… or that he’s “gotten one over on me” because he gets to stay home and I work. People have even referred to him as “a kept man”… but I’ve never heard a stay at home mom called the same. He laughs it off, and those comments are fewer and fewer, but nonetheless, it is insulting to him and me.

    Keep up the wonderful work as a dad! Thanks for sharing

  111. Yes, yes, and YES!!! My husband is a stay at home dad who can’t get a playdate to save his life. He takes our son to all manner of toddler art classes, music lessons and macrame workshops, only to be marginalized by the Heather-mommies. He’s trying his ass off to find other munchkins for our little guy to roll with, but the ladies assume there’s some far more scandalous motive. I assure you, ladies, he is NOT trying to get into your mom jeans. Please let us know if you find this mythical park before we do….

  112. Thank you so much for this. I almost feel bad for the posh older lady who saw me with my sons one day. She said, “Oh, Daddy is babysitting. How nice.” Or something like that. It hit me at the wrong time, so I nearly sneered as I said, “That makes no sense, unless I am with someone else’s kids. You see, we hire a babysitter, but when it’s me with the kids we call it PARENTING.”

    I’m usually a bit more kind, but seriously, why would anyone say dad is just babysitting? It’s not 1953, after all.

    Love your blog, and congrats on making “Freshly Pressed.” I was beginning to think a blog had to be vanilla, uncontroversial to the point of being boring, and otherwise mostly bland to be Freshly Pressed. It’s encouraging to know Gay Daddies are not considered potentially offensive or controversial on WordPress. :)

  113. All this is rather a good point. Our world is full of bias and discrimination, and one form that doesn’t get a lot of attention is dads (and by extension, men). It’s far less of an issue than several others, but many of us are guilty of this still.

    There are things about a man’s lifestyle that I just don’t get. I’m not guilty of everything bad in this post, but there are also things here I’ve never thought of. I guess I’m pretty ignorant about those things. I’m more of a feminist (though I do try to keep men in mind, too).

    For the record, I respect a stay-at-home dads just as much as a housewife. And I think it’s totally unfair to call them lazy, considering that home parenting isn’t exactly a walk in the park for women themselves.

  114. Awesome post! I was aware of a lot of the issues you raised (I’ve fought for changing facilities that are accessible for men!), but I hadn’t really thought of some of your other points. So, thanks for spelling it all out for us. And congrats on being freshly pressed!

  115. I love that this blog exists and I’m alerting some dear friends who are legally married (thank you, Massachusetts) and now going through a horrendous open adoption process. From the advertising angle, maybe it’s my PR background but I’m always impressed when an ad campaign actually targets the dad. And yeah, I can’t remember which one it was… :^\

  116. Loved reading your blog. My husband is a very hands-on dad and we regularly have our friends and people around us commenting on how good he is with the baby. As if what he is doing is the most off-beat thing in the world. But there is no denying the fact that there is a dearth of hands-on dads all around us that’s why we continue with the perception that’s mom’s the ultimate word.

  117. As a woman, I would LOVE to see a TV commercial showing a man dusting his fine furniture. Maybe if we had a bit more of that, it might encourage a better understanding of each other’s traditional gender roles. No more assumptions that men are clueless!

    All your points are excellent and we should be more considerate to Dads out there, particularly single dads and those who choose to stay at home.

    Congratulations on being featured on Freshly Pressed!

  118. Great post. You have a very valid point. Men are just as capable as women, so they shouldn’t be discriminated. At my eldest daughters school I see a lot of men picking up their kids. I even see some pushing prams and they do not get stared or laughed at. To me it is perfectly normal. You would think in this day and age people would be more opened minded. Clearly not.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  119. Aaaw. I feel your pain. However, you have to blame the ‘bad’ dads throughout history. Women are usually responsible for raising children even if they are not biologically related. Here in Jamaica the Absentee Father is the norm and is not held responsible for anything. He gets away freely and just go and breed another woman (not every Jamaican dad is like that). I do commend you on being a dad but the bad lot causes these discriminations: some abuse their children, the mothers of their children, etc. So until all the other dads get on board, ‘Dadscimination’ is here to stay.

  120. This is an awesome post. I’m not a Dad, but I know what you’re talking about. I hate how in commercials/media today the “Dad” character is always portrayed as stupid or clueless.

  121. My hubby is straight and not a SAHD but he feels the same way! I stay home & often make lots of daily decisions & often negate to invite him in on them. I “assume” he doesn’t care, or is too busy, etc. We SAHM do need “to recognize” the new Dads, whonare hands on staying home or working. I also relate becasue I am an Afro-Am. female, who lives in the suburbs, staying home with three boys. I look young & so often I am treated as a “young welfare” Mom or it is assumed I am some single Mom. At 42 I am way to old for that crap. After 12 years of raising three kids and staying home I have seen it all. I hear you & hate all the crazy commercials, & so called women friendly TV too. Great blog post!

  122. I don’t think stay-at-home dads are lazy at all! Being a parent is hard work, whether you’re male or female. The screaming kids, the tantrums, the sleepless nights, oh gosh. My kids are still very young and my dear spouse and I are still struggling through it all. My dear spouse has never had to worry about changing diapers in public because I was a stay-at-home mom until our youngest was 2 and by that time we had already potty trained her. His problem now is finding a family restroom where he can take our daughters to use the toilet. He tells me that a male’s restroom is not acceptable for little girls. And he does get the stares when he’s at the playground with our kids.

  123. All the things you complain about piss me off too…. because of the underlying cultural assumption that *of course* it’s the women who are responsible for changing nappies, wiping up gunk and giving up their lives and souls to serve the whims of screaming sprogs. ‘Mommy’ is not an empowered state of being. It’s the lowest caste imaginable. Masculinising oppression won’t make it less oppressive. We need a radical cultural paradigm shift that values *parenting*, regardless of the gender of the parent.

  124. Yes! You shouldn’t need the advice of other people when it comes to screwing up your kids. They are your kids and it is your parenting!- yes, I clearly took away some very important points from the post.

    Good post, I’ve never thought about the discrimination faced by dads. Thank you for the insight.

  125. Wow, this was truly enlightening! I loved the read. I like seeing dads out with their kids,and raising them, kudos to you. I saw something the other day in a gas station bathroom. It was a toddler seat that was inside the stall so you can place the kid in it, strap them in while mommy is going potty! so somehow lets make sure they do that for mens bathrooms as well! Lets face it, the mens bathrooms are kinda gross so a seat or a diaper changer is needed for mens bathrooms too! I would say since our society is not their yet, with all mens bathrooms having changing tables and seats for toddlers then carry a clean towel to place on the floor for changing and maybe plenty of hand sanitizer if you have to have your toddler in the mens bathroom, those little fingerts touch everything! this was a great read!

  126. I’m not a stay-home dad, but a dad just the same. I really enjoyed your post. It is really annoying when there is no changing table in the mens room. Too often my wife has been the only one that could change our kids because of that. I never want anyone to think I’m that guy that has never changed his kids diaper. I agree, every father should be changing their kids diapers. If you can’t hack it, then you’re a wuss.

    I prefer not to go to any Mommy and Me class just because of the name, though I’ve gone, I’ve been to my 2 year olds dance class and gymnastics as well. It felt weird with all the women but it was worth it. As for being in the park, I make sure the stroller is within arms distance now that my oldest is 3 and I have a 1 year old so I have yet to experience the “perv” stares, though I am aware of that and don’t ever want to be mistaken.

    I’m straight and do enjoy seeing attractive women but when I’m with my kids, I make certain to never stare. For my kids sake, they don’t need to be the kids of the ogling Daddy. I usually don’t notice anybody but my kids anyway because they’re always into something they shouldn’t be.

    Thanks for the post. I can relate to much of it, even if I’m not a stay-home dad. I think if you’re a “good” dad, you can relate to everything you’ve noted for the most part because you’re with your kids and taking them and letting your spouse/partner have some time to themselves or work.

  127. I think it’s a real problem that stay-at-home dads isn’t ‘normal’ yet. My dad stayed at home with me for 3 months, which I’m sure he got a lot of credit for (and perhaps some grief from work for missing that much). Of course, my mom put her career on hold for over ten years, but that’s seen as standard. I wonder if, when I have kids, I’ll be lucky enough to have a husband who is modern, and emotionally invested enough, to offer to stay at home- or at least not expect it to automatically be the other way around. Great article!

    • From experience, and seeing all my friends getting married and dealing with this, it’s something you figure out before getting married. I know, it seems shallow to say you want certain qualities in a guy, but some of these qualities can be deal-makers or deal-breakers.

  128. I wish I could tell you it gets better as they get older, but it doesn’t. When my youngest child started middle school, I had to bring in all my court papers to prove I was “allowed” to get her school reports, even though the listed address on the registration was mine. Tell me any mom would have gotten such treatment.

  129. YES! I know! Whenever my husband comes back from an outing with our toddler, he’s got that where-are-all-the-dads look. And when she was just a new baby and we switched off with her while we each went to college classes, there were very few bathrooms in which he could change her diaper. And no father’s room to rock her to sleep, or feed her a bottle while sitting in a comfy rocking chair. But I’m glad that there are you guys out there, acquainting society with the fact that men can, in fact, be dads and not lose their testosterone/drive to succeed/will to live. Keep up the good work, and spread the news!

  130. you should go take a look in scandinavia… it’s the country with the most gender equal- role distribution i’ve ever seen. all through the streets of copenhagen you see men pushing strollers, being at playgrounds and generally hanging out with their kids. it’s really refreshing!
    love your writing style!

  131. Good reminder as I’m out with my kids to be more aware of the stay at home dad. My husband also complains about the bathroom scenario at restaurants. I’ll say can you go change this diaper, within a few minutes he’ll say, “well, it was either change them on the scuzzy floor or have you change them”. So, I get to do the task everytime :( At fast food restaurants, if the don’t have them in the women’s or men’s I am not afraid to change them in the booth. I know Iknow, its disgusting, but no more disgusting than putting my child on the scuzzy floor. Maybe the people behind the counter will think so to and install one.

  132. Though in the UK you do have more chance of finding changing stuff in the men’s loo, or a family room, there is still to my eyes plenty of improvements to be made. One of my OH’s major bugbears is Peppa Pig, a programme in which the father (Daddy Pig) is written as terminally stupid and completely incapable of parenting. His failings are often the main plot point. And it isn’t alone, all too frequently do children’s TV show men as incompetents :(.
    The assumption of being a wrong-un isn’t limited to men, although I imagine you chaps are far more frequently tarred with that brush. I have been without mini me in places where there were small children, and found myself being regarded with faces of considerable suspicion.

  133. A refreshing look at what all parents have to deal with. Especially dads who have to deal with unnecessary looks from other people for no reason. keep up the witty posts Jerry. We love them!

    • I know, right? I can’t even take a walk in my neighborhood without looks or cops driving by twice, unless I got a child, my wife, or a pet with me. Believe it or not, that scrutiny is partly why I started up riding a bike around my area, instead of walking….bicyclists apparently pose no threat.

      One time I was walking back home from dropping my son off at school. And a cop passed by me twice because I looked suspicious…even tho I was just there with my 2nd grader not 10 minutes ago.

      Oh and hte school itself wouldn’t allow dads to walk their Kindergartners to class but Moms could… I did lay into the lady on that one and she insisted it wasn’t true even tho I could see the Moms walking down the hallway… I said “I bet if I was my wife you would have anything to say”. She’s all “Thats not true” followed by my “Uh-huh” as I glance at the moms that walked in ahead of me unhindered.

  134. My dad has full custody of my 2 brothers and I when my parents broke up and as I got older it drove me CRAZY that there never seemed to be enough recognition of the dedication and hard work he put into raising us on his own. I love my mom but I don’t run to her the same way I still do to my dad. Even before the break up he was our primary care giver and that was late 80’s-early 90’s. Go DAD’S!

  135. I really enjoyed this. I find it refreshing when men stand up and say “hey! Living in a patriarchal society hurts us, too!” I know many women, including myself, who are angry because according to our gendered society, we all must be the perfect, nurturing mothers. Which of course implies that we all must want kids, too. What you don’t hear as often is that it leaves men feeling that they aren’t allowed to be nurturing, that to be a “man” is to be an uninvolved parent, which of course is just as false. And by the way, does anyone enjoy “The” shows and those ridiculous commercials in between? Last time I checked, my idea of a good time is not going to my gal pal’s house and having a heated discussion about why her dishwasher leaves her dishes looking dirty. =)

  136. I still remember the first time my husband went to change our baby in a restaurant. He came back and said that there wasn’t a changing table. I honestly thought he didn’t know where to look. So mommy got stuck changing the diaper. This makes me angry for my husband who is an amazing dad. What is he supposed to do when I am not around? And this makes me angry for me! Because I am a woman am I more obligated to change diapers than my husband? Do penises make you guys less capable?

    Great post! I now kind of want to be your friend. :)

  137. Hi, Jerry. My wife forwarded this post to me. I’ve stayed at home with our kids (2 of em under 3) now for nearly 3 years. But I’m a songwriter by night. Your post is spot on. Thanks! I needed this!

    • Thanks for writing, Jay. Glad to hear from another stay-home dad who has a creative side, too. I know how hard it is to work on your own stuff after the kids go to bed, so kudos to you! Hope you’ll keep reading!

    • Nice – agreed! I think creative work is ideal for the stay-at-home parent in lots of ways. It all comes down to energy, in my experience. Having enough of it left to think up killer thinks, basically – like Jerry said. I think its easier to plow through a sink of dishes when you’re running on fumes than it is to write music or something. I paint, but I almost never could get started working in that mode at night. If it works, you’ve got a sweet thing going there Jay.
      It gets much easier when they go to school. For the creative working stuff, I mean. I don’t want to scare y’all with tales of what’s to come. hmm. Little ones are a joy :)

  138. I actually know quite a few SAH dads. I run a nature playgroup in the Bay Area, and I purposely made it a kid-focused group instead of a “mom” group, making the group open to all caretakers. The dads I’ve met have all been incredible, super parents, juggling a kid or two on our hikes and outings as well, if not better, than many of the moms. It’s never crossed my mind that these men had any other intention for being there other than to be out having fun with their kids. You guys are awesome!

  139. Love the article..100% agree….
    I’m a SAHD as well and one thing I learned that at least online you can sneak into the sites like Cafemom, that don’t allow men, by simply keeping your gender hush-hush and blending into the the background while participating in conversations and debate, etc just fine. Its sad when a good dad has to resort to pretending to be his wife or a vague screenname that “could be” a woman just to get the same advice and social interaction those Moms are getting. Why exactly ARE we left out…the only answer I ever got is “we can’t take chances”…okay so you’re basically forcing people to lie to go on your silly website and participate in the #1 PARENTING website…last I checked Dads and parents too, Ladies. They say “oh make Cafedad”…well Ladies, men don’t go online to talk to other men, esp about parenting….the logical choice is to go where the other parents are…duh. And honestly those dad sites suck and have almost no activity. Why wouldn’t i go where there fast responses, etc. If I gotta pretend to me Michelle instead of Michael to find out some parental advice or just shoot the breeze with other people I have something in common with, then so be it. Online rules are easily broken, may as well just let us guys in the door openly.

    Sadly in real life, we cant sneak in the door, and indirectly our kids get left out too. There’s this great club I coulda joined in our county but of course its just for Moms, effectively leaving me at home with nothing to do but shoot hoops wand go to the park and hiking tails with my boys, which after a dozen times or so gets old, meanwhile this club/group is always having new acticities and events that we cant join unless my wife quits her job just to join their little group. Its not clear and they never get back to you on exactly why men cant be part of it…theirs really nothing uniquely feminine about it…its sposed to be for the kids mostly.

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  142. I know this post is almost a year old but i want to add a different perspective as to why Mommy’s may be a little cold to stay at home Dads until they know you are gay…..for me and a lot of other Mom’s i know striking up a friendship with a male other then our significant other is pretty close to pointless.

    Unless you & your partner are 100% secure 100% of the time – it just doesn’t work. There’s the huge risk that jealousy will creep into your home relationship – why are you spending all day with this other man? “i know you say your just friends but i don’t like you & my kids spending all day with him” kind of thing. And a lot of the time at the end of the day you just don’t have the energy to fight it.

    I’m not saying that every male/female relationship results in cheating but the risk is there – even if there’s only a .5% chance of something happening. That could be why once they find out your gay everyone is more friendly – there’s no risk

    • It’s a good point, Susan, and I get it. Just like the movie/book Little Children. It’s just sad that dads and moms can’t mix more for that reason. We have a lot in common. Most of my friends are dads (straight and gay) for that reason.

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  149. It seems to me you are all way too precious and self serving. It takes time for things to change in society and you want it now! or you get angry or complain. Come on…recognise that you are doing something different and instead of whinging be creative in making changes. Stop expecting businesses, groups and other people to jump to it and make changes just for you. No, I’m not a stay at home mum, I was a single working mum when it was not common and I saw it as a situation that I needed to manage, not everybody else around me. I am now married to a man who ended up being a single working dad of 4. He also managed his own life and that of his kids successfully without feeling hard done by and moaning how unfair it all was. By the way, why wouldn’t any parent keep a close eye on their kids in a park and wonder about the lone adult, whether they be male or female? There are pervs out there!!!

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  153. I don’t understand how a feminist could disrespect stay at home Dads. What, it’s good enough for women but not men? A man is supposedly degrading himself but for a woman it’s just fine? So sexist. It’s one of the hardest jobs there is, period, regardless of the genitalia of the worker.

  154. most of the mom’s i have met at parks have been nice in a one on one situation. however, when they are grouped together it gets rather intimidating and i feel like a social outcast. this is a really good post. I like your writing!!!

  155. Parts of this really hit home for me but in slightly different ways. My husband and I are a straight couple but adopted a child of another race. We’re Caucasian and she’s of African decent. I don’t know how many times I’ve been approached by African American women giving me unsolicited parenting advice, asking personal questions without even introducing themselves and the most common (and personally aggravating for me) of all is giving me advice on what to do with her hair (or asking me who does her hair for me–I do her hair thank you very much).

    I know how to take care of and arrange her hair. I’ve received plenty of compliments on her hair arrangements. But, if an African American woman is leading her kids around and one or all of her daughters have been playing hard and their hair is in disarray, other mothers don’t assume it’s because she doesn’t know how to fix her daughters’ hair. I am definitely not afforded that consideration.

    My husband, though, definitely has it worse. He was once actually stopped by a police officer when he was walking our daughter down the street to get an ice cream cone as a special Father/Daughter treat. We adopted our daughter out of foster care and she’s terrified of police officers because, as she put it once, “Police take Mommies and Daddies and Grandmas away.” So, the fact that she was terrified into complete silence didn’t help things. He was, fortunately, able to prove to the officer’s satisfaction that he really was her Daddy and everything turned out okay. But there are definitely challenges involved in any non-traditional family structure.

    I think it will just take time for people to get all of these prejudices out of their heads of what a ‘normal’ family is or how it works. Some people assume you’re a perv. Some people assume because you’re a man you can’t take care of your kids as well as a woman. Some women assume because I’m Caucasian I am just incapable of really, truly taking care of my daughter. I’m not sure I’ll ever be okay with them spewing their prejudices at me, but I keep getting better at shaking off their negative assumptions. It sounds like you’re pretty good at that too and I hope that nothing manages to stick for too long.

    You’re a rockin Daddy.

  156. I just came across your blog and I love it – very original to hear parenting from the perspective of the dad, and gay dad at that!
    You never think about this sort of reverse parent discrimination – I’ve never even thought about it from this perspective.
    About the mummy cliquishness – I don’t think that mothers exclude stay at home dads because they’re afraid of home wreckers (although I know you meant this with humour). I think that it probably has more to do with women associating stay at home dads with broken families. You know, like “oh, he’s probably divorced with a bad ex-wife who doesn’t even look after the kids – so he has too” kind of thing. I know that’s broad generalization, but it might explain the mummy cliquishness to some extent :)

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  158. Thank you! I HATE it when my husband and I go out and he returns to the table with a poopy baby and clean diaper because there was no changing table in the men’s room. I always think, “what is he supposed to do if he’s by himself? Or if he were a single dad?”

    As a fellow twin parent, I’m enjoying your blog…thanks for the laugh!

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  161. One of my first parent friends from a local park was a stay at home dad and we chatted about this issue plenty. I bet the same moms that are cliquish to other women are the ones judging men. It never occurred to me to think a dad is lazy or unemployed as parenting bc he’s an unsuccessful man, but people are in fact judgy so I see it. I did an article on stay at home dads after meeting him and one of my husbands good friends. I always try to say parent and not mom, even though I work with a lot of women as a breastfeeding counselor, so I feel the womanly kinship— but hardly enough to exclude a parent based on his gender.

  162. I was a stay-at-home dad for several years. I left a good job and moved to the Caribbean (where Staying home with my boys was WAY out of the norm) to support my ex-wife in her career. When my ex decided she wanted a divorce, she used the current bias to keep the kids in a foreign country and put them in day care. My Visa was dependent on my wife, So I had to leave the country, And though I had fairly good luck in the courts there when I needed them, there the ruling court was here in the US. Frankly, I expected equal treatment under the law. My naivety, I guess.

    Now, the children are miserable. She is only doing this to exert control and vindictiveness, not because she has any real interest in the children (which is evidenced by a lot of behavior as well as statements she made to me and in court that I won’t go into). I can’t believe we have a system that still allows this. I have been fighting this for nearly two years now, and every time I manage to get back into court, the bias is immediately obvious. I mention this because Dadscrimination is a far bigger problem than one that resides in restroom, playgrounds, and school groups. I would love to see stay-at-home dads take the torch for the next equal right movement, but there is such a lack of interest and so many groups claiming to support men are really there to make a profit, that I am afraid it may be at least another generation before the movement can gain any real strength. A lot of children will be hurt in the meantime; such a shame.

    Thank you for writing such a through description of the basics of what we stay-at-home dads have all had to fight on a daily basis. I believe it is important for people to see the reality of what happens when the culture takes such a one-sided on an issue it has created under the guise of “equal rights” If it is okay for a woman to pursue a career (and it is), then surely it is okay for a man to leave his career to raise his children.

    • This breaks my heart. Thanks for pointing out that this is a bigger problem than I even described. It makes my complaining about bathrooms and cliquey moms seem trivial in comparison. Best of luck fighting for your kids. I’m so sorry it’s been such a struggle.

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