Someone in a Facebook parents’ group I’m a part of recently complained that when her husband took their child out alone, other mothers weren’t very receptive towards him. I was actually really surprised by this post since my husband actually experiences the total opposite effect when out with our toddler!
I call it “The Dad Effect”. Women smile at him. People are friendly towards him and talk to him. Airport security don’t seem to deem him a threat at all when they find a foldable card knife in his wallet because he is holding a cute kid…(he just likes his camping/survival gear and forgot to take it out- promise he isn’t a wannabe ninja)
A woman with a child is a no go to other guys, but somehow when a man has a child it seems to make him more attractive to other women! Oh, and did I mention we have a Chihuahua too? Perfect for attracting women in the park I can tell you that.
Maybe there’s something about seeing a father engaging with his young daughter that makes ovaries leap. Maybe it’s because my toddler talks non-stop and people find the way my husband converses with her like an adult so amusing. Maybe it’s just my husband because he is extroverted and can talk to anyone if he wanted to. (The amount of friends he has made for our 3-year-old at the playground is ridiculous!)
I don’t doubt that there are some women out there who are genuinely hostile to others dads e.g. tell them off for using the parents’ room when they are clearly with their kids, but I do think most aren’t being intentionally exclusive. It’s just natural to connect with others of your own kind. Mums likely just find they have more to talk about with other mums. It’s nothing personal. My husband has taken Miss A on play dates where he was the only dad and sometimes he has to make an effort if he wants to join in a mum conversation, and other times he decides there are women conversations he just does not want to be a part of.
Heck, there are even mums who feel “judged” by other mums in their parents’ groups (the new parents’s group the council puts together) and drop out so clearly this feeling isn’t exclusive to dads. I think it’s just really up to you to decide whether you want to connect with others. I’m an introvert and in the first year of being a part of a parent’s group, even I didn’t really actively join group conversations much. However, I just kept going for the sake of getting out of the house and as time went on and I got to know them all better, I started really enjoying my time with them. It’s been over three years now and our group is still good strong. What I love about our group is that it’s really a parents’ group (the way it was intended) and not a “mother’s group” as most people end up calling their group. We have lots of involved dads too and we all get along swimmingly.
So to all the dads out there…you’re doing a good job. Most other mums aren’t looking at you weird, trust me. In fact it’s slightly unfair that all you need to do is carry your baby in a carrier to generate smiles from old ladies and “Aww…he must be a good dad!” comments. If you’re feeling any judgment, it’s probably mostly in your head. It’s a effort for anyone to have a good conversation with a stranger in public. Even my husband- as extroverted as he is- will say it’s not easy to make friends with other parents in the playground and it’s always a conscious decision to talk to and get to know someone. So keep taking your kids out, keep changing nappies in the parents’ room, keep making friends for your kids in the playground…You will vibe with the people you’re meant to vibe with (we’ve actually “picked up” some of our closest friends from the playground!). And if you encounter genuinely negative people? Just smile, move on. and enjoy your time with your kids!