Men’s Work in a Kid’s Class

12 01 2011

Real short post today, as I’ve not much to write about, but I did want to share this little experience. I got an email this afternoon from my child’s class asking for volunteers among the parents to do things for their class play. I do try to be an active and involved parent and my schedule at the moment thankfully affords me the time to do so when needed. This past Fall, for example, I volunteered for every practice and meet for my daughter’s cross country team. I’m going to be helping with the set of the lower school play, in which my kid’s playing a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. I’m happy to give my time and labor when I can and would love to be involved more.

What keeps me from doing so is mostly how cliquish other parents can be and how awkward a guy is made to feel at these sorts of things. It’s not so bad if I can keep my head down and concentrate on a task, but any other time, there’s this crazy power struggle among the alpha moms there and, again for a guy, it takes on an almost absurd character and, make no mistake, we’re clearly not wanted. It’s as if, by being involved, we guys are intruding on their sacred realm. This is their territory and they are going to pee on every tree they can find. At the same time, I’ve got to imagine these very same people would love for their husbands to be more involved. See where I’m going here?

Now, I know that stay-at-home dads are still not mainstream, but I categorically refuse to respond to any email that begins with the line: “Hello ladies!!!” They can work on their own props/sets, which is probably how they want it anyway.

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6 responses

12 01 2011
Anthea

You definitely have my sympathies. It reminds me of the women who complain about their husbands not helping around the house/with the children, but then nitpick and treat them like they’re doing it wrong when they try to help.

To be honest, I think I do a bit of that myself when Brian cooks, though I try not to. 😦

17 01 2011
robdougherty

See, I do the majority of the cooking around here and I hover over my wife’s shoulder when she’s cooking, so I can see your side of it there, for sure!

17 01 2011
mummybreadwinner

My husband is about to become a sahd, so I read your post with interest. I wondered whether you have ever taken issue with them over this and what sort of response you’ve had? It’s crazy in these supposed modern times that such sexism still exists. I am starting to feel that prejudiced against most people is frowned upon but for Dad’s it’s accepted. I hope things change, but in the meantime I won’t be holding my breath!

17 01 2011
robdougherty

Thanks for your comment!

To be honest, no, I’ve never considered taking serious issue with it. I fear that would be seen as “making a big deal” of something, and part of that is that I don’t trust people’s abilities to see the other side of things and secondly, it’s somewhat un-macho to allow something like that to perturb you to that degree. Consider, perhaps, if you did bring the issue up. You might have some then say they didn’t realize or simply acted as they always had and failed to consider that a man was in the recipient list, and you may even get an apology. What you won’t get, however, is any real sort of acceptance and you’d always be the guy who complained. You’d be trading one thing for another, neither good.

Equality’s a weird beast. Everyone’s all for it in the grand sense, provided they have their little unequal niches to carve out an identity for themselves. I’m with you not holding your breath.

In any case, best of luck to your husband. There are more of us out there! And, really, end of the day all that matters are the kids and how we take care of them, so it’s not like these little power struggles carry a lot of meaning to them. Just annoying more than anything else, really.

17 01 2011
Ruthie

Don’t know if you saw this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12204525. They’re changing paternity leave laws here so that dads can share in it to a greater extent. They currently get 2 weeks paid, with a statutory minimum of £120 per week, whereas women get 39 weeks, with the first 6 weeks at 90% of their normal pay, and then the rest of the time either at the statutory minimum or 90% of their normal pay, whichever is lower. Women can take a further 13 weeks unpaid leave without losing their jobs. There’s a way to go before it’s equal, but I think this is the first thing this government has done that doesn’t make me want to ram a pencil up my nose.

17 01 2011
robdougherty

That’s definitely a positive!

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