by JAMES WILKINSON
Last Friday, James wrote a post for Mamamia where he asked the question “Does anyone look after their kids anymore?” (You can read that post in full here)
James argued that there is a ‘norm’ where it is acceptable for parents to ‘palm their kids off’ in child care and he questioned the benefits of this for children.
The response from the Mamamia community was intense, with the story attracting thousands of readers and hundreds of passionate comments. Since reading the comments from Mamamia readers, James has provided this response. He has changed his mind.
Dear MM readers,
Thank you all so much for your honest comments. I spent most of the weekend reading through every single comment carefully and can only express my extreme horror that I have managed to offend so many people in so many different ways with my own personal ramblings and sweeping generalisations.
What is blazingly clear to me is that I am completely out of touch with the community in general on this issue. That does not surprise me as the Stay at Home Dad (SAHD) does not belong to a community.
The general consensus is that I am judgmental and self-righteous, criticising others for their choices to make myself feel better. Looking back on the article I have to agree with you all but that was never my intention.
I wrote that post in my blog (you know, that place where you are allowed to spout all your hopes dreams and frustrations no matter how ridiculous) after a particularly degrading day as a SAHD. I had been told that I was lazy, that I should get a job and put our two year old child in care so that she would be better off and we could buy a house.
In addition I was completely ignored by two ladies at the playground while our children were playing together. They spoke to each other just not to me. This is not the first time.
So I come home feeling incredibly fired up with no one to talk to and try to justify my own existence as a SAHD by having a rant on my site about feeling judged and ignored by the community at large.
It is ironic that I ended up judging and hurting everyone else instead. How sad and how sorry I am especially to those poor struggling Mums and Dads who don’t have any choice and already feel guilty about their child care decisions.
For the record I don’t claim to be an expert on children or anything for that matter and despite how I have come across I most certainly don’t want to judge anyone’s choices. Every caring parent does the best that they can for their individual circumstances.
My blog is where I rant on about my own opinions and experiences as a stay home dad. They may not be right or politically correct but they are mine. Isn’t that what blogs are for?
What I really need is help.
Women have a wonderful support network with sites like this and other mothering websites along with regular play groups where they all get together and discuss their issues. There is nothing like that for the SAHD.
I started to blog my experiences so that other SAHDs might also have somewhere to go to share their experiences. It seems we are all in hiding.
Although websites like MM have some excellent information in them they are mainly tailored to a female audience so that I have to wade through articles about Ryan Gosling (yes, yes, OK he is hot, I get that) or the best new hair in order to find out something that may help me in my daily struggles as a new dad.
I have joined many a group but even though I am tolerated by the Mums I am not actually included in the conversations. Have other SAHDs had the same experience? I mean how could we possibly know how it feels to breastfeed or give birth or if our vagina (or was it vulva?) has gone back to its normal size and shape?
The whole point of the article was to try to say that I believe that children are not better off in child care. Not worse off either mind you, just not better off as the industry would make you believe. Instead I have come across as judgemental and failed miserably in the attempt.
I also noticed by some of the comments that some of you still believe that a man is incapable of raising a child properly. These are the kind of attitudes us SAHDs face every day. Just because I can’t actually give birth does not mean I can’t care for a child.
Perhaps the SAHD role is the last bastion of sexism?
What is interesting to note is that like me, most of you felt the need to justify your own personal child care circumstance which makes me think that maybe we all feel a little bit guilty about the way we raise our children, whatever way that is. Why is that?
To those of you who have managed to strike a balance and are happy and secure in your childcare decisions I applaud you. Then there is me who struggles daily.
Please don’t hate me – Help me. I obviously need it.
James Wilkinson is a stay home dad, the husband of a corporate wife, a writer and a musician.You can find his blog here.
Please remember that James is reading these comments. Any abusive comments directed at him (or any other commenters) will be removed. Please remember there is a way to disagree without having to leave the dinner party.