There had been a lot of discussion around ChicagoNow lately regarding the interactions (or should I say non-interactions) between stay-at-home-dads vs. stay-at-home-moms. SAHD's bemoan the isolation, the exclusion outside of the mom's circle. I had experienced it myself recently, when I took my son to the Children's Museum. It did not happen constantly, but I did receive a few off-putting stares from mothers as they clutched their kids while I passed.
To some degree, I get it. Mothers need to be protective of their families. There's an uneasiness around other guys because there's the notion of disrespecting her husband. There's worry that any type of acquaintanceship leads to a slippery slope of unfaithfulness. For the most part, I don't take it personally. I'm not looking to join the mom club.
But after weighing some of the arguments, I have a few responses:
1. "Befriending another dad on the playground would be like cheating on my husband."
First, it's a public area. So unless you'd rather construct a private playground on your condo rooftop, expect to see other people in the park, mothers and yes, even fathers. It's the same argument I'd make when non-parents complain that parents take screaming kids on a flight. Yes, it's a difficult situation, and no one wants to listen to a screaming child for hours, including the parents. But it comes with the territory. So if you really want to avoid screaming kids, then charter your own jet. Otherwise, stop acting like your coach ticket is first class.
Second, as I mentioned in a previous post, 47% of the American workforce are women. So think about it: those women are in the office, working with your husband. I'm pretty sure at some point, he is interacting with women. Yes, it is within the context of a professional setting. But if the assertion is that motherhood is a full time job, then consider the playground as a workplace. Act professional. Is the reasoning then that a father can be trusted with women in the office, but a mother cannot be trust herself with men at the playground?
Look, everyone knows that kids make anyplace unsexy. Having even more kids around on top of the one I'm responsible for would put me that much further out of the mood with someone not my wife.
2. "I don't really trust stay-at-home-dads who are too hands on with kids, even their own."
Okay, wait a minute. For decades mothers have complained that fathers are not involved enough with childcare. So now that some fathers are trying to buck that trend, we're now met with distrust?
3. "Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."
So this was an argument originally posed back in 1989 from the movie "When Harry Met Sally." Perhaps the argument holds true for singles living in 1989. But we're talking about married men and women who are sharing a playground, not mingling at a bar. Also, we're not talking about friendship, at least not in the sense described in the movie. At least for me, I'm not looking for someone to have coffee, or share lunch. At the playground, I'd just hope parents would be polite, and set good examples for their kids on how to interact with people, even people of the opposite gender.
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