Wednesday, 24 June 2009

What’s it like being a “modern dad”?

Well, I woke up this morning (sounds like a cue for a song) and one of the topics of conversation on the BBC Kent morning show was “modern dads”. I listened with interest as a few dads called in with their views and experiences, they also canvassed some opinion from “the man on the street”.

General consensus seems to be that a lot of dads feel left out when it comes to things like midwife appointments and calls from the heath visitor, in as much as all the attention is directed towards the mother. I can empathise with this to an extent, Whenever Mrs D had such an appointment or visit I always made a point of having a few questions ready just to show that I was taking an interest – sounds daft but it was surprising how the attitude would change and all of a sudden I would be included in the conversation!

A few people made the point that during the pregnancy, again, they felt that most of the focus is towards the mum-to-be. On the one hand this totally understandable but on the other, it would be nice to feel like there were as many books, leaflets, advice forums, etc.. aimed at the dad-to-be as we need just as much advice and reassurance. We also need access to baby change facilities when we’re out and about, a common gripe that many dads brought up!!

Feeling self conscious when taking baby out alone was another issue, one guy even went to the extreme of putting “L” plates on his son’s buggy! I wasn’t quite that worried but I certainly felt a bit awkward at first, the feeling passed pretty quickly when I’d gained a bit more confidence from taking Baby D out a few times and tried to adopt an “oh, just get on with it!” attitude. There was no point in depriving her of the outside world just because I felt a little out of my depth.

I thought I’d call the show to give them my story (a lot of which I've already blogged about so I won’t repeat myself here!) I agreed with most of the points made but to me, it’s more a case of the establishment getting used to the idea of full-time dads. Every time I’ve taken Baby D for an immunisation jab I’d get the “So, you’re looking after her today?” comment to which I’d reply “Yes, I look after her full-time” and this was always met with a raised eyebrow – why?!?
The flip side of this has been that pretty much everyone else I’ve met, and especially the mums from Mrs D’s antenatal group have been really supportive and encouraging.

In all, a really interesting show (it’s on the BBC “listen again” if you fancy it - The John Warnett and Julia George breakfast show) and it was a bit of a pat on the back for all the hard working dads out there. Nice for the media to show us a bit of support every once in a while!

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