When I started venturing out into the world of parenting groups, I had no idea what to expect. I had hoped to meet like-minded families, to share experiences, to learn, to grow, to meaningfully be accompanied on this shared journey of parenthood. Well, that is not what I found at all.
It started with our local baby wearing group. We went to learn about carriers, wraps, ring slings, the whole gambit of options. The baby wearing educators were great, the other parents not so much. It wasn't because we were weird or not outgoing. No it was simple, it was because I was a dad and I was involved. The unspoken rule was if you were a man, you spoke only to your partner and the educators. Your presence was tolerated and nothing more. Ok, so not a great experience in the parenting group world but obviously you can't judge all parenting groups by attending one meeting. So we went back, sometimes together, sometimes separately. I will say the experience stayed basically the same when we were together. I don't know that I can accurately describe the sheer volume of dirty looks and disgust I received from other parents when I went by myself. So maybe the local baby wearing community wasn't a nice group of people. Time to look for a different community.
My partner was starting to get very involved in parenting groups online. I thought to myself, "online sounds great! No one will care that I don't have a vagina, I'll be another avatar in an online community." What an idiot I was. I decided to join a group that my partner had been raving about. She said they were like minded and the group was really friendly. Despite my reservations about joining a "momma" group, I did it anyways. That was short lived. I left after 2 days. There were so many dad-shaming posts I couldn't stand it. It was clearly a women's group. For women by women.
My partner and I attended the LA Baby Show together for the first time 2 years ago. She had gone to MommyCon without me and had a wonderful time. My expectations weren't high at all. Luckily, it was really just a vendor expo, but the bias was still there. Many of the vendors clearly preferred to talk to my partner, but at least they were courteous. That being said, there were plenty that ignored me outright. Months later was MommyCon again, and let me tell you I was not excited to go at all. I was determined that despite how people felt about a dad being present, I was going to be an active participant in my kid's life. If that meant dealing with people's discomfort of there being a dad around, so be it. I was going to be actively participating in making decisions about diaper choices, baby wearing, potty training, whatever. Well I am so glad that I went. There was a breakout session devoted entirely to dads, and it was great! We shared stories and experiences. This was before the creation of DaddyCon, which I am so excited for this year.
Since then, I joined another parenting group, and while I was met with some Dad-shaming, I decided to ignore it instead of bailing. It was one of the stepping stones to actually writing this blog, that and finding the Naturally Dad Collective on Facebook. Those guys are great. Here is a shout-out!
So what am I doing at parenting groups? It's simple. I am modeling what an involved dad looks like. I am participating in the lives of my children. And, I am making those people who are uncomfortable face their bias. I AM DAD HEAR ME ROAR! Anyone who doesn't like it, well either get with the program that dads can be involved and play a positive role in children's lives or go suck an egg. Either way, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere.
I'm Matt a.k.a. The Attached Abba (Abba = Hebrew for Dad). This blog is detailing my journey in parenthood, and will hopefully provide a space for other dads to find support and insight.