Moms Group Forced to Drop 'No Dads Allowed' Rule After 1 Guy Throws a Fit

dadWe all know how isolating and difficult being a new parent can be. That's why many parents turn to parenting groups -- it gets them out of the house and connected to other people who understand what they are going through. Dad Haran Yaffe works from home on an internet start up while also caring for his young daughter in the San Francisco Bay area. He applied to join the Burlingame Mothers' Club but was turned down because, well, he's not a mother.

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The club also told him that if he were in a same-sex relationship he would be allowed to join, but that as a heterosexual man he could not. Yaffe went to the local media with the story, and soon after that the club emailed him with an apology and allowed him to join.

Finally, a victory for a heterosexual man.

They shall overcome.

Listen, I joined a moms-only PEPS group for mothers of twins when my children were born. I did this because I needed the support of other people who shared the experience I was having, which meant connecting with other women who had twins. There are PEPS groups that include dads, but that wasn't what either I or my husband wanted or needed. If there had been a man in my group, it would have changed the whole dynamic. It's hard for many women to feel comfortable discussing vaginal discharge and clogged milk ducts in front of a man. It's only with other women that you can let it all out, and that is what many new mothers need.

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There are more and more stay-at-home dads these days. There are options out there for those men to find other dads to meet. They aren't as plentiful and easy to find as mom's groups, but they are out there.

So why would a man push his way into a mom's group? Why would he contact the media and complain about discrimination? Possibly because he doesn't like being told, “No.” Possibly because he wants to prove a point. But not because he understands or respects that some women only want the support of other women.

As for the sexual orientation part of this, I support the club's stand that gay men who feel more comfortable in a mom's group should be allowed to join, while gay men who are more comfortable with other dads can join dad's groups. The difference between having a gay man who identifies with moms in a group versus a heterosexual man is that with a gay man there is a shared experience of discrimination. Gay men and women know very well what it's like to have to fight for respect and equality in a way that many heterosexual men cannot. And for me and many women like me, that common ground is a must if I am going to share my vulnerabilities and seek advice that makes sense for me.

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There is nothing wrong with excluding men from a women's group whose primary purpose is to provide emotional support. As much as many would like to deny it, there is still a power imbalance between men and women, just as there is between white people and African-Americans. That's why I'm not going to fight to join the NAACP – because it's not about me; it's about people who have been denied equal rights finding solace and strength in each other. Men who look at mom's groups and feel discriminated have to look past themselves and remember why groups like this are important to women. And then they need to do some Googling and find some other dads to hang out with.

What should the moms group have done here?

 

About the Author: Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared at Time.com; Brain, Mother; The Rumpus; Scary Mommy; and Blogher, among others. She also writes at her humor blog, Pile of Babies. You can follow her on Twitter at @pileofbabies or on Facebook.


Image via © iStock.com/emholk

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