A post shared in the Dad Network Closed Facebook Group today reminded me of some of the experiences that I’ve had as a Dad – ones created by other parents who have a stigma against Dads and a preconception of what family life is supposed to be like.
You see, even though we’re now 17 years into the 21st century, there’s still a lot of people out there who haven’t gotten with the times. So, I wanted to share a couple of these events, just to let new Dads or Dads-to-be what to expect. Because I can tell you now, I was very shocked and taken aback by these events – so some pre-warning can definitely come in handy!
So, let’s get on with it! Here are some of the preconceived notions that you’ll have to face.
Dad’s Don’t/Shouldn’t Change Nappies
So, on a trip to Lion’s Yard in Cambridge, we were enjoying a nice day of shopping when the little princess filled her nappy. Now, my OH and I tend to take it in turns to change nappies when we are out, and it was my turn this time.
I took the princess to the baby changing room, which was a single person changing room, and got down to it. However, half way through changing the nappy, there was a knocking on the door. Someone was obviously wanting to come in and change their child’s nappy. All seemed pretty normal, so I just said “one minute, please”.
The next thing I know, the person is banging on the door, and the following conversation begins (with the woman outside shouting);
- Woman: “Get out of there right now! That’s the baby changing room!”
- Me: “I’m changing my daughter’s nappy. Wait a minute.”
- Woman: “Don’t f***ing lie to me! Men don’t change nappies! Get the f*** out now or I’m calling security!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing… So I just turned my attention back to the task at hand and got my daughter sorted and back in her pushchair (who was now very upset and didn’t want to let go of me because of the woman’s shouting). When I opened the door to leave, the woman was standing there, arms crossed and a big smile on her face. A security guard was standing next to her.
The smile quickly faded when she saw the pushchair and my daughter. The security looked at us, and then turned to the woman before shaking his head and walking off. However, she wasn’t done. She proceeded to say the following in a very annoyed voice;
“What the f*** are you doing? Men don’t do that! You shouldn’t have been in there! Where’s the mother and why wasn’t she there! All of this could have been avoided if you’d been a real man.”
Looking back at it now, I wish I’d given that woman a piece of my mind, but my daughter was already distraught from the woman’s actions. So, I took the little princess as far away from that woman as possible and bought her a new toy as an apology for having to hear someone shout like that.
So yeah, be prepared for idiots (there’s no other way to refer to them) that still try to reinforce stereotypes from the 1940s… They are out there! And this isn’t the only example…
Is This Really Your Child?
You might be surprised, but yes, I have been asked this… Multiple times. The worst example, however, came when I was walking around a clothes shop in Peterborough, looking to buy some new tops for the princess.
My OH was at work at the time, so it was just myself and the princess. We’d been in the shop for, maybe, 45 minutes by this time as I was trying to decide the best stuff to get for her. Then, all of a sudden, I felt someone tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see the store security guard glaring at me.
This was a very large man… And apparently he had been called over because a number of people had warned staff of, and I quote, “the suspicious man pushing a child around the shop”.
And so, he looked me dead in the eye and asked if the princess was my child or not. I said she was. He didn’t believe me. We were taken out back and I was made to sit down with my daughter taken to the other side of the room. The security guard stayed between us whilst she was crying and reaching for me. They made me call my OH at work to confirm that I’m the Dad!
All it took was one word over the phone from my OH and everything was sorted. But even that is really bad… What if I wasn’t the Dad and just called some random woman who had agreed beforehand that they would say “yes”?
So, not only did my little princess have to go through a scary ordeal because other shoppers thought that there’s absolutely no way a Dad would be there with a child by themselves, but the security check they carried out was pathetic! Naturally I complained, but as far as I am aware, nothing was ever done about it.
But yeah, as a Dad, you need to be careful about what others think… You also need to be prepared to prove you are the father at a moment’s notice! That’s why I now have a scan of my princess’ birth certificate on my phone. Not that I should need it, really…
What Are You Doing In A Mother And Child Parking Space?
Ok, so first, let me just say this; it’s not a “Mother and child” space, it’s a “parent and child” space. You’d be surprised how many people don’t see it that way though! Seriously! This happens to me almost weekly.
The second a parent sees me pull into the space and they notice that I’m a male, they come over to the side of my car and start throwing verbal abuse at me… I get called “lazy”, an “asshole”, a “f***head”, or worse… But why? Isn’t it obvious? I’m a man, and therefore I couldn’t possibly have a child with me! I must just be parking in that space because I’m too lazy to walk from the other spaces!
In fact, I’ve even had it were, after getting the verbal abuse and proceeding to get my little princess out of the car, I was told the following;
“Well, good! But make sure you remember, this is a Mother and child space! It’s for Mothers.”
No, it isn’t! Not solely! In fact, the parking space isn’t even for the parents! It’s there for the child, for God’s sake! But it’s amazing how many people seem to thing that it’s there to make life for the Mother easier!
And yes, in a way it is; it is big enough to get the child out safely. But again, that’s for the child, not the Mother. These parking spaces are there to make things safer for the child! And it certainly shouldn’t matter if the parent with that child is the Mother or Father!
Yet, for some people, it really does matter! So, Dad’s beware, you may well get abusive language thrown at you for using the parking areas specifically for your children, just because you’re a man!
And That’s All Folks
There are other examples of things like this, but as thinking about them makes me angry, I think this is a good time to call it a day. In short, there are so many people in the world who need to wake up and realise that we’re not in the 1920s anymore. Family dynamics have changed a lot since then, and these people really need to understand that!
Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that they ever will. So, new and soon-to-be Dads take note, and be prepared!
Have you or anyone you know had experiences like this? What is opinion on these events? Let me know in the comments below!