Thursday, February 17, 2005

Got Dads? Got Moms?

When I started staying home almost 4 years ago, I was lucky to find a very large, active stay-at-home dads group here in the Washington, DC area. DC Metro Dads got my infant daughter and I out of the house. It gave her some playmates and me a chance for some adult conversation with people who could relate to my situation. The group was (and is) a lot of fun, and was truly a blessing to a guy who had just started to learn about the whole parenting thing. Since then, I've heard from other fathers that it's hard to find dads groups in many areas. Moms groups are more common, but it seems some (many?) don't accept members with the Y chromosome.

I've run a weekly playgroup, as part of DC Metro Dads, for over 2 years now. We have occasionally had stay-at-home moms ask if they could join us. We discussed it as a group, and not a single dad objected to allowing women into the playgroup. The kids, of course, didn't care a bit whether it was a homogeneous group of dads or not. And actually, as time went on, I believe the group actually benefited from having the moms there. It was great to get a women's perspective on some things. The topics of our conversations didn't change (still mostly centered on parenting, diapers and potty training, nap and bedtime routines, preschool selection, etc.), the the things we did and the way the playgroup ran didn't change. In fact, having a few moms join didn't change the nature of our group at all! The focus of our group (and I'm sure most others, whether comprised of moms or dads) is to give the kids some playtime and the parents an opportunity to socialize with others.

Jay Allen, the Zero Boss, has written a short, interesting piece for Blogging Baby that asks whether stay-at-home dads should be welcomed into moms' groups. What do you think? If you're an at-home mom, would you be uncomfortable if a man started attending your playgroup or other outings? And if you're a stay-at-home dad, would you be interested in joining a group that was traditionally for women?

Sure, I can understand that some women may feel uncomfortable discussing certain topics in mixed company just as I am sure some men would. And I suppose that it is their perogitive to decide who can and cannot belong to their group, but I think moms groups that don't allow at-home dads to join are missing out. And dads, I hope you invite the women in as well.

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