If you're a dad or married to an involved dad (and if so, lucky you!), chances are your baby and his father will be spending some time on the playground, at the indoor play space, or even at a nonjudgmental mommy-and-me group. Yes, I realize those can be hard to find.
If your local tot spot is like ours, dad will be welcomed and the assumption will be that he is the father of the child he brought, and as a father, must be at least partially interested in the health and welfare of children. Maybe even worth chatting up a bit about day cares, snacks, the weather. But apparently not all playgrounds are as equal opportunity, as some dads have been getting the stink-eye when they bring junior out to play. And some dads have been insulted, ignored, and had assumptions made about their sexual proclivities that are not in the least bit flattering.
Some moms think dads on the playgrounds are perverts.
When Motherlode opened up the can of worms that is dads on the playground, bloggers and regular old dads alike chimed in with their own horror stories about being treated like a criminal when they were trying to give their baby a push in the swing. Daddy Dialect blogger Jeremy Adam Smith even told how a grandmother asked him to leave a playground.
What followed Smith's Twitter confession were more tales of dads being treated poorly including: being asked to leave a playground, being excluded because they were a dad and not a mom, and being criticized for their parenting. Dads also report the phenomenon of never being asked over for a play-date, but as soon as their wife takes the kids out, the invites flow.
With the exception of the play-date scenario (my husband doesn't get as many play-date offers as I do, it's true), my husband claims he's never experienced any of the discrimination described above. Whether it's because we're in a urban area and he's not the only dad on the playground, or he's just oblivious to the suspicious looks and whispers, I don't know.
But it does seem really strange that this kind of thing goes on in today's equal parenting society, and with regularity. Why are so many women suspicious of men on the playground, who are there with their own kids? Do we really think men who are interested in children must have something wrong with them to the point of making nasty assumptions about their motives? If so, we all need to get a grip. Dads love their kids too, and have the same rights to entertain them on the teeter-totter as the mom next door.
Have you or your husband ever experienced dad discrimination?