(This entry is also published at The Huffington Post.)
I took my eldest son to get his hair cut the other day and noticed on the door to the salon an advertisement for a local “Mommy and Me” class. The flier included an illustration of a mother holding her toddler. There was no mention of dads and other caregivers being welcome as well.
When it comes to father’s rights, I am certainly not a militant. Nor am I the type of person who takes offense at every little thing. However, when I read a flier for a toddler activity that only emphasizes motherhood, do I, as a dad, feel excluded?
Do people intend to be exclusionary? Sometimes they do and sometimes they just haven’t thought enough about what they are doing, as evidenced below:
There’s a famous quote by Gloria Steinem that I think is worth repeating here: “Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.” There’s certainly been a lot of growth in terms of how the genders work together, but there’s still a great deal of resistance from all sides. As a society, we still hold too tightly to old stereotypes of what moms and dads should be doing — even when reality dictates we should be more open.
When it comes to childcare, it really is up to women to allow men into what has previously been their domain and a great place to start is to get rid of the moniker “Mommy and Me.” So, if you are connected with such a class, consider getting the name changed to one that is more welcoming, like “Toddler Time” or “Toddler and Me” — names that include not only dads but grandparents and other caregivers as well. It’s small changes like this that, over the long run, will help alter attitudes and perceptions about our roles as men and women in our society.