Dad Was Kicked Out of Family Room for Trying to Change a Diaper & Now His Wife Is Speaking Out

Sarah Fa'avale

Tua and Talani
Sarah Fa'avale

Although no one would argue that moms definitely have a hard time finding welcoming spaces where they can change their babies in peace, we often forget that for dads the experience can be that much harder. Which is why when one mom from New Zealand discovered that her husband had been kicked out of the family room during a recent diaper change, she was angry and hurt. Sarah Fa'avale is now speaking out on the incident, which embarrassed her husband. "It just doesn’t make sense to me," she says.

  • Sarah and her husband, Tua, were out shopping at the mall with their newborn when they sensed the familiar signs that it was time for a diaper change.

    Fa'avale family
    Sarah Fa'avale

    Speaking with CafeMom, Sarah explains that the couple hadn't made too many trips to the mall with their 3-month-old daughter, Tahani, before the incident, but on August 9 they made the trip to Queensgate Mall in Wellington, New Zealand, so Sarah could order a new car seat for her little girl. 

    "Of course, low and behold she would start doing her poop face while sitting in her pram," Sarah says. Tua, Sarah's husband, offered to take their daughter into a family changing room so Sarah could finish up the order, but a short time later Tua returned looking crestfallen and ashamed. 

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  • Tua had been chased out of the family room by another mother.

    It was Tua's first time taking his daughter to a parents' room, but given how things went, it might be his last. According to Sarah, Tua was just about to open the door to go in to change his daughter when another woman stopped the dad and told him, "You can’t go in there"

    "Taken aback, Tua replied 'Well I need to change my daughters nappy'" Sarah says. "To which [the woman] continued to stand in his way and say 'You can’t go in there, there’s mums in there.'”

    "Tua was shocked and didn’t want to start an argument in front of the children who were around, so he left to find me," his wife shares.

  • "I could tell something was up. His face had dropped."

    Tahani and Tua
    Sarah Fa'avale

    When Tua returned to his wife, she says she knew "something was up" because her husband looked visibly upset. Once Tua explained the situation, Sarah says she was "absolutely fuming" and despite not usually being confrontational, she says that they raced back to try and find the woman so that they could chat.

    She was gone by the time Tua and Sarah returned back to the family room, and Sarah regrets not having the opportunity to speak with the mom. "[I] really would’ve liked to have talked to her to see what kind of angle she was coming from because I couldn’t see one,"  Sarah tells us.

    "The fact was it was a parents' room and she made my husband feel like he was not ‘allowed’ to look after our baby!? It just doesn’t make sense to me," she adds. "I really felt for him and I found myself apologizing to him on behalf of this lady and you know what? I shouldn’t have to do that. No one should be stopping a parent from looking after their child and helping out their partner. It still makes me so angry just thinking back to it."

  • Now Sarah is trying to spread the word about her husband's experience so "this sort of situation will happen less."

    Tua and Tahani
    Sarah Fa'avale

    The mom shared her story on her Facebook page, hoping that by speaking out she wold help others realize that it's not okay to shame dads for trying to take part in doing the everyday acts of childcare crucial to new parents. "The response online has been absolutely overwhelming," she says. "So many dads have started sharing their own stories with similar experiences."

    The couple say that they just wanted to start a conversation about public family rooms and that dads being kicked out of traditionally moms-only spaces is "happening more than we realize." 

    But not everyone agrees with Sarah and Tua. Sarah admits that she has received some pushback from moms online who argue that they would want privacy in the rooms if they were breastfeeding their children. But Sarah points out that there are often private cubicles with armchairs and curtains so moms may nurse in peace. "If you want privacy when feeding pull the curtains, easy peasy. It’s no excuse," she says. 

    Though in the end, the fight for dads to be welcomed in family rooms isn't about breastfeeding. It's about men embracing being a part of childcare.

    "Every time I have been in [a family room] I’ve seen dads in there changing nappies and think it’s awesome," Sarah explains. "They are helping their partners who might hopefully be getting a few minutes of down time."

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