Home

Baby showers: what about dads?

22 Comments

Multicultural Kid Blogs - Virtual Baby ShowerAs our son is swiftly approaching his first birthday, I am today joining with fellow members of the Multicultural Kid Blogs group who are co-hosting a blog hop about baby showers and becoming parents. Last week I blogged about the day that I learned I was going to become a dad, and this week I’ll be talking specifically about baby showers. If you have written any posts about similar themes, please feel free to link them up to the blog hop at the end of this e-mail.

I’ve generally seen baby showers as being a bit of North American thing, although I have seen articles in the UK press suggest that more and more baby showers are now taking place here in the UK. As it happens, my wife and I didn’t have a baby shower. We did, however, go for a nice weekend away to Liverpool a few months before our son’s arrival on what I believe is sometimes known as a ‘babymooon’. We stayed on the edge of the city centre and enjoyed eating tapas, going on a Beatles tour of the city, taking in a comedy night and eating one of the best ever vegetarian roast dinners we’ve ever had.

Rightly or wrongly, I normally see baby showers as being mainly mum orientated. However, it’s good to see that there is information out there about how to make baby showers more men-friendly. I think that it’s great to celebrate the impending arrival of a child with friends and think that it’s ever better when dads are either involved in this or find a way of marking this too. After all, if you’re going to bring up a child together then it makes sense to prepare for it and celebrate it together.

Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

A Magical Mystery Tour: a good name for a Beatles tour of Liverpool and possibly a metaphor for becoming a parent?

While preparing this blog post, I asked some fellow dad bloggers what their views on baby showers were and found it fascinating to hear back from several who had either been to this sort of event or knew people who had. Several, such as Mike Crider (The Father of Twins), suggested that baby showers could and should be more inclusive. Australian dad blogger Darrell Milton (Modern Father Online) mentioned that he and his wife had a joint baby shower for their first baby that was based around a barbecue, and several others shared similar experiences.

Michael Bryant (The Purposeful Pappy) argued that as he and his wife do most things together, they decided that this should mean jointly hosting a baby shower. Michael mentioned that their baby shower was attended by both men and women, as did others such as Micah Adams (Big Boned Biker). Mark McNulty (The New American Dad) reported being the only man at the baby showers that were predominantly focused on his wife but that his work colleagues organised a baby shower specifically for him. Mark added that including a dad-to-be in a baby shower could make him ‘more excited or comfortable with the coming change in his life’ and also ‘have a positive impact on preparing him for his new role’.

Several dads talked about enjoying baby showers that were specifically for dads-to-be or that had been planned with dads in mind, and several of these seemed to have a lot in common with the sorts of Dadchelor Parties that have been discussed on the Life of Dad website and podcast. Brian Marks (Dashing Dad) talked about enjoying being able to hang out with male with friends while drinking beer and watching baseball, and Craig Fortner (The New Age Mister Mom) enjoyed a similar type of event that his sister organised for him. Chris Daddio (Buff Daddio) and Spike Zelenka (Double Trouble Daddy) shared similar stories. Just as dads value different aspects of baby showers, Jeff Tepper (Ay yo, be a father) pointed out that his wife hasn’t keen on having what he termed a ‘classic women’s only baby shower’ and that their event didn’t feature any baby games.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

We may not have had a baby shower, but we wasted no time before getting a baby bath.

Reading these tales led me to wonder if I’d missed out on something by not having been involved in some sort of baby shower prior to my wife and I becoming parents. Although it’s hard to come up with a categorical answer, I think that it’s fair to say that we both benefited from discussing parenthood with friends who’d already had kids. Just as my wife found it useful to have talked things through with friends who were mums, I also feel that I really benefited from discussing all sorts of things to do with child birth and parenting with friends who had become dads shortly before I was due to become a parenting.

What I think this boils down to is the need for both mums and dads to be present in discussions about parenting so as to get an idea of what to expect and face up to concerns, challenges and whatever else together. As a blogger, I know that I’ve gained so much both from being in groups for dad bloggers and also from groups for parent bloggers than are made up of mums and dads.

What about you? Did you have a baby shower? What do you think of baby showers and whether they should be made more of an event for both mums-to-be and dads-to-be?

Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

The co-hosts of this blog hop, listed below, have each written posts related to baby showers or more generally about becoming parents, plus we’d love for you to link up yours below.

Also be sure to visit our Facebook page to leave your advice and well wishes for our guests of honour!

Co-hosts

Multicultural Kid Blogs

the piri-piri lexicon
Vibrant Wanderings
Creative World of Varya
La Cité des Vents
Spanish Playground
Dad’s the way I like it
Tiny Tapping Toes
All Done Monkey

 

 

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums

37 Comments

2013-08-16 15.09.45

In the run up to becoming a dad in April, I joined several ‘parenting’ clubs run by big brands that provide special offers for parents. However, I’ve been dismayed to see that some of these clubs could be doing a lot more to engage dads as well as mums. Reading an article that Darell Milton (a.k.a. Modern Dad Online) wrote on his blog back in July of this year made clear to me that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I’ve written twice to the supermarket Tesco about this issue but have not received a reply. Here’s an extract from one of my e-mails that summarizes the issues that I have with their Baby and Toddler Club:

I recently joined the Tesco Baby & Toddler club as my wife and I are expecting a baby in April. Having just been on to the website link accessible through my Clubcard account, it seems that the Baby & Toddler club is very much focused on mothers and babies and largely ignores fathers. I find this disappointing and believe that it represents an overly stereotypical and outdated attitude towards parenting. I intend to play an active role in bringing up our child along with my wife, but feel somewhat excluded by the limited focus of the Baby & Toddler club. Such an approach both fails to acknowledge that men are increasingly playing a greater role in parenting and does little to encourage men who may feel reluctant about doing so. There needs to be a focus on Parents’ choice and not just Mums’ choice.

I would be most grateful if you could explain why the Tesco Baby & Toddler club fails to focus on fatherhood (or parenthood in general) as well as motherhood. I would also like to hear what steps you intend to take in order to make the Tesco Baby & Toddler club more inclusive and less gender-specific in the future.


To be fair to Tesco’s Baby Club, they do appear to be taking some steps in the right direction when it comes to including more features about or by dads. There is now a brief article entitled ‘How to be a good dad‘ and a longer and more useful looking one entitled ‘Top tips for dads-to-be‘. However, the section of the Tesco Baby Club entitled ‘Your family entitlements and benefits‘ makes no reference to paternity leave. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that paternity leave is a topic about which I feel quite passionate; I’ve given my views on the UK paternity leave system and talked about what I learned when I was on paternity leave.

One of my other main gripes is that the Tesco Baby Club offers section features the slogan ‘Making mums’ lives easier’. Whilst I fully appreciate that childbirth and pregnancy can provide many challenges that are felt most acutely by the mother, I’d have preferred to see a phrase like ‘making families’ lives easier’. Although some of the products on offer at the time of writing included shampoo and shower gel that one would most likely find in the women’s toiletries aisle, it also included different sorts of products in the categories ‘baby’, ‘toddler’ and ‘family life’. The ‘family life’ section included items such as razors and deodorant that would be found in the men’s toiletries aisle.

Recently, I thought that the Boots Parenting Club (Boots is the name of a well-known UK pharmacist) had started to turn over a new leaf when it came to trying to engage dads. The letter to me that accompanied their free magazine, began with the following words before talking up a variety of promotional offers:

What a thrilling time to be a dad.. All those experiences, all those ‘firsts’

However, the focus of the accompanying ‘parenting’ magazine was somewhat disappointing, and not just because it featured the slogan ‘making life easier for mum’ as the main tag line on the front cover. In the 52-page magazine, there was one picture of a dad and a mum with a baby compared to 22 pictures of mums with babies or young children. There was not a single picture of a simply a dad with a baby or child. In addition, there were many features where women talked about their experiences of being mums but none where men talked about their experiences of being dads.

When I see the sort of narrow focus on parenting that I’ve described here,  I feel that I – as a dad – am effectively being excluded. I may be working full-time while my wife is taking charge of more of the childcare, but I’m doing my best to achieve a work life balance that allows me to be as committed and involved a dad and a husband as I can be. I just wish that more big companies out there would realise that I am one of a great many dads who are striving to do this.

In addition, I am also aware of quite a few stay at home dads who are taking the lead with childcare whilst their wife or partner is out at work. Their experiences also need to be more prominent within materials about parenting. The same goes for adoptive or foster parenting and same sex couples who are bringing up kids.

To end on a positive note, I am glad to see that some companies are reaching out to dads and demonstrating a decent level of sensitivity and understanding where fatherhood is concerned. Within the last month alone, I’ve read articles from Huffington Post, The National Fatherhood Initiative and Scott Behson’s Fathers, Work and Family blog that discuss companies that have made commercials that provide positive and empowering representations of dads. I hope that it won’t belong before more brands follow suit by also focusing on the role that mums and dads play in parenting.

What did you think of this article? Are there in companies that are particularly good or bad when it comes to reaching out to dads when it comes to either their advertising or materials about parenting that they produce? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

 

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it!

I’ve linked this blog post up with the ‘Something for the Weekend’ parent bloggers link-up hosted by The Voice of Sarah Miles and Diary of the Dad, and also the #PoCoLo link-up hosted by Verily Victoria Vocalises.

What’s the most important thing about being a parent?

4 Comments

IMAG0942As you may have noticed from my last blog post 6 things that I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent, I’ve recently been thinking about what it means to be a parent. During this reflection, I recently read an article on the Mama Natural blog that fellow blogger Dominika Tracy from Back to Roots Baby mentioned to me on Google+. The title of the article from Mama Natural was as follows:

‘Why is this quote controversial? “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

An answer that I would give in fairly general terms is that making categorical statements about topics such as parenting or marriage is liable to provoke a range of different responses. I think that it’s good to have a reasoned dialogue on these sorts of topics and to try to respect the views of others.

Going back to the original quotation, I think that any attempt to identify a single aspect of being a father that is more important that all others is quite challenging. Having read the article, I can’t help feeling that the author might be overly extrapolating based on their own experiences. I would also like to know more about the context that gave rise to the original quotation from Theodore Hesburg.

I can’t help wondering if the quote was deliberately selected as part of an attempt to fire up debate. Even if the author of the Mama Natural blog post did not think that the quotation was controversial, did they really think that posting it would result in unanimous agreement as opposed to debate?

I’ve said before that one of the reasons that I decided to become a parent blogger was because I wanted to participate in the interesting dialogues about fatherhood and parenting that take place. Maybe the blogger who posted the debate-provoking quotation that I cited at the start of this post was simply doing the same.

One of the specific issues that I had with the initial quote was that – in the form it was cited – it focuses uniquely on the notion of the father having a duty towards the mother, and not vice versa. If the quotation, had talked about a mother having a duty towards the father then perhaps it would have been criticized for implying that women should be subservient to men. Ultimately, I think that being in a couple is about being mutually sensitive to the other person’s feelings, needs and general well-being.

That said, the author of the blog post does acknowledge this in their own article to a certain extent. However, I did feel that their whole article seemed to be overly restricted by focusing largely on biological parents, married parents and male-female couples. It didn’t really take into account issues such as adoption, fostering and adoption by same sex couples (be they married, united in a civil partnership or in another form of relationship).

2013-09-02 19.12.07

Promoting IT skills from an early age – an important part of being a modern parent 🙂

Going back to the quote itself, I see being a father as involving a complicated balancing act (or series of balancing acts) rather than a single priority. In my case, it’s about working together with my wife in order to find a way of trying to meet each other’s needs both individually and collectively. I’ve talked on this blog about how men can play an important role in supporting women who breastfeeding. I’ve also said more than once that the casually thrown about phrase ‘man up’ can often be unhelpful when it comes to the expectations placed on men and boys (see here and here for links to the relevant posts).

This is something that I mean in relation to being parents, being a couple and just being people. It is also, of course, about trying to do so with a view to focusing on what is best for our baby son. I’d not like to try to prioritise between all the types of needs in that mix as I think that it’s important to take a more holistic approach.

As parents, I think that it’s important to transmit positive values to our kids. I feel that part of this is about respecting people and behaving towards them in a way that is polite, fair and sensitive. Within the context of being part of a couple raising kids, loving each other is part of this. As to whether it is the most important part of being a parent, I’m not so sure.

As I’ve already hinted, I feel that it is important to take a nuanced and holistic approach here.  I can see that kids may well end up taking on values that they associate with their parents’ approach to life and relationships. The relationship between their parents is one part of it, but it is not the only part. Relationships with other family members, friends and people in a school or work context are also important.

Ultimately, I think that being a couple with kids involves focusing on each other’s needs and the needs of the kids both collectively and individually. It may sound like I’m sitting on the fence here when it comes to responding to the quotation that I mentioned at the start of this post, but there’s a reason for this. What works for one family isn’t necessarily going to work for the next family.

Attitudes to parenting and family roles are evolving and I just don’t think that there’s really any such thing as a ‘typical’ family. For this reason, I’m generally suspicious of those who seek to talk up a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Ultimately, I think it’s great to be able to read and learn from fellow parents wherever they live and whether or not they have the same take on issues like what constitutes the most important thing about being a father or a mother. This, to me, is definitely one of the most important things about being a parent.

What do you think is the most important thing about being a parent? Do you agree or disagree with the quotation that I mentioned at the start of this article? I’d love to hear your views on these questions and this blog post in general, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin.

 

I’ve linked this post up at the ‘Something for the weekend’ parent blog link-up run by Diary of the Dad and the Voice of Sarah Miles.

It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling

31 Comments

DSCF1012

I recently discovered that it is now International Baby Wearing Week, which runs from 7-13th October this year. As we’re both keen on wearing slings, my wife and I decided to go on a little excursion last weekend to a town called Sling that happens to be a mere ten minute drive away from where we live in North Wales. It may not be renowned as the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch that is only a few minutes further away on the island of Anglesey and certainly doesn’t attract bus loads of tourists who queue up to have their picture taken next to the sign on the platform of its small railway station, but we ventured to Sling ourselves to take photos of our son in his sling next to the solitary sign in the village bearing the name Sling. My wife has now also done blog post about Sling and slings at her blog Mindful Mam.

Llanfairpwll

As it happens, my wife and I were able to put him in a different sling for our photos as we have quite a few. Some of these we have bought from eBay and we have bought others new over the web. It’s been great to be able to try out slings that we’ve been lent by friends before deciding to buy, and my wife has been to a sling library in Colwyn Bay. For my part, I am a proud member of the UK Sling Dads group on Facebook and have enjoyed carrying our son in a variety of different carriers ever since he was a few weeks old. It used to be that he’d go to sleep almost instantly when we popped him into a carrier, opened the front door and walked only a few footsteps.

DSCF1016

I’ve always loved the way our son, who is almost six months old, is able to look around when he’s in the sling and also feels close by. It’d feel odd to me just pushing him about in a buggy and not being able to look at him. I’d miss not being able to make the silly faces at him for a start. I also feel that carrying our son in a sling has also helped to create a stronger father-son bond. It was really cute when he was a few days old and would just go to sleep on people and it still is when he gently nods off while he’s in one of his slings when we’re carrying him. I have, however, learnt that it’s often a good idea to put the sling on before a coat as it can be a challenge coming back home with him asleep and trying to take my coat off without waking him up. In fact, it’s kind of like playing the kids’ game Buckaroo.

On a recent trip to France that I have mentioned in a previous blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday, we didn’t see many other people carrying their kids in slings. In fact, I think that we only saw three and one of those was in a shop that sold eco baby products such as slings. This started me wondering what attitudes towards sling wearing were like in different countries round the world, and I’ve been able to discuss this with fellow members of the great Multicultural Kid Blogs group on Facebook. Here are some of the insights that fellow bloggers provided:

  • Stephen Greene (Head of the Heard) told me that slings and other baby carriers are very practical in Brazil as the condition of pavements in certain areas means that using a buggy is more or less impossible.
  • Kim Siegal (Mama Mzungu) has done a great blog post about the impracticality of using a normal buggy if you live in Kenya and also talked about how wearing a baby in a sling on one’s front as opposed to one’s back can result in strange looks from locals.
  • Sandra Amorin (BXL Sprout) observed that carrying babies in slings in Belgium is a bit of a middle class thing, also adding that slings were not very common at all in Portugal and that carrying a baby in one can be something about which passers-by comment out of inquisitiveness.
  • Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki (Maroc Mama) contrastingly pointed out that it is very common to see babies being carried in slings in Morocco and that strollers are a rarity.
  • Annabelle Humanes (Piri Piri Lexicon) backed up my initial impression that slings are a bit of a rarity in France and told of how a male relative had to put up with quite a few judgmental remarks when carrying his daughter in a sling.
  • Sarah-Jane Begonja (Chasing the Donkey) went as far as saying that she had never seen anyone carrying a baby in a sling in Croatia and received strange looks when doing so herself, adding that there seems to be a bit of a national obsession with fancy prams.
  • Souad Guex (Babelkid) used to run a babywearing consultancy and blogged about sling wearing while doing so. For Souad, who became the first trained babywearing consultant in the UK, babywearing is ‘the second most important parenting tool after breastfeeding’.

One thing that I’ve noticed here in the UK is that whilst I have seen other men also wearing their kids in slings, there aren’t all that many. Nevertheless, when my wife went to our village supermarket the man behind the till started talking about how he and his wife also carried their baby in a sling and thought that it was great. I remember feeling slightly self-conscious the first time that I went out on my own with my son in a baby carrier, mainly because I’d never seen any men carrying a baby in a sling in our village before. When my wife and I were at a music festival (at which our son was wearing his very cute looking ear protectors) I noticed a few people smiling and pointing as I walked around with our son in a sling. At the time, I couldn’t work out whether it was because he looked cute with his ear protectors on or because they thought I looked silly. It felt a bit weird in some ways, but this was probably because I’m kind of shy more than anything else.

As the weeks go by, I wonder how many slings and baby carriers we will ultimately accumulate. As it happens, my wife said that a new sling that she’d seen on the internet (a sort of woven wrap that she will be able use to make both a wrap and a ring sling or a bag) is what she would really like for her birthday this month. As it happens the sling that she has her heart set on is a second hand sling that is in excellent condition, which may mean that I’m able to successfully participate in the ‘October: Buy Nothing New Month’ initiative that Ute Limacher-Riebold recently described in a post on her blog Expat Since Birth. As to when we’ll stop getting new baby carriers, it’ll probably be when we discover one that can be described as the….

2013-10-06 15.39.41

What did you think of this article? What is your view on baby carrying and slings? I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin.

I have linked this post up with the Something for the Weekend blog post linky run by parent bloggers Sarah Miles (The Voice of Sarah Miles) and Tom Briggs (Diary of the Dad).

%d bloggers like this: