Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get too comfortable and accustomed to my usual play groups. Sometimes it just slips my mind that I am the only dad. My daughters and I tend to frequent the same classes and parks. We are known there. It isn’t a big deal that I am the only dad. But when we go some place new, things change. It becomes very obvious how uncomfortable I make all the moms in a new group.
The One and Only Dad.
This happened just recently. My daughter was sick and we had to miss her gym class. We rescheduled and made up the class on a different day with a different set of moms. While waiting for class, I would normally chat with the other parents about the topics of the day, how our kids were doing, just make small talk. Today? Nothing. In fact, my daughter and I were left standing alone a few feet away from the group of regulars.
As the class progressed, I tried to engage the moms in conversation. Normally all the parents in class chat as our 2 -3-year-olds fall, tumble, and get back up. Today I was met with quick one word answers, followed by the moms making a quick exit to do something else. No one was rude, but I would be drastically overstating if I said they made me feel welcome.
At the end of class, we all join a circle for the goodbye song. By chance, my daughter and I were first to the circle. As each mom joined us she would take her kid and sit across from us. Once everyone had grabbed a spot, we sat by ourselves on one side while all the moms huddled together on the other side.
At this point, all I could do was laugh. It was so blatant, so obvious they weren’t comfortable with me I couldn’t help myself. (I am sure me sitting by myself on the other side of the circle laughing didn’t make anyone regret their seating choice. ) The teachers came over and sat by me. We sang our song and class ended.
How scary am I?
I hate to say this is a common thing, but all too often it is. Usually, it isn’t everyone. There will be a mom or two who don’t mind me, but the majority always avoid me until they get to know me. I know I will never have the good looks to be a movie star, but I never thought I was that scary.
I spoke with some other at-home-dads. Many, especially those like me in smaller communities, have experienced something similar. A situation where they were not welcomed, or made to feel uncomfortable. A few of the dads have stories of being confronted by the moms. Being told they weren’t welcome or how they made everyone uncomfortable. I luckily have never had it progress that far.
I am not sure why I make moms uneasy. I don’t know if they worry I am some sort of predator there for their kids. Trust me. I don’t want your kids. If you pick the right day when mine have been fighting a lot I may even give you one of mine. I have heard that some moms are uncomfortable with dads out of fear the dads may hit on or in some other way be inappropriate. I can alleviate that fear as well. I have a wife who I am both very in love with and very scared of. I know what she would do if she found out I was being inappropriate and trust me you’re safe.
I am often asked what I want my readers to glean from my posts. For this one it is simple. If you’re a mom, say hi if a guy is there with a kid, he is probably harmless. He isn’t there for your kids. He probably won’t hit on you, if he does then it’s up to you if you want to shun him or welcome his advances. And dads, say hi too. Be nice, and keep trying. Sooner or later you will be accepted.
Have you been made to feel unwelcome? Has a dad at a play group made you feel uneasy? Share in the comments below.
This post was originally posted on Kzoodad.com where you can read more about Bryan’s experience as a stay at home dad.