It has been a week since I shared the link to this local news story on my personal Facebook page; Facebook page for mums in the Hills provides instant parenting advice for mothers. Go read that article and then come back here and read my thoughts.
I left it a week for a reason. Far too often when a news story breaks, when something goes viral on the Internet and then hits to mainstream media there are people who jump on the band wagon and give their opinion without really thinking about it.
Now I need to give you some background with this story. I was given the heads up about this article from a mother who is in this group a day or two before it was published by one of our locally distributed newspapers and their online version. She thought that I would be very interested in reading the article and she was sure that I would have an opinion on it.
When the article was released online I quickly shared the link in two places; my own personal Facebook page and in a private group set up for parents of children that attend our son’s school. When I shared the link on my own Facebook page I did so with this introductory comment;
These women will be hearing from my legal team…
For those not familiar with my writing and self promotion of my blog it’s called hyperbole.
hyperbole hʌɪˈpəːbəli/ noun noun: hyperbole; plural noun: hyperboles 1. exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.
When I posted it the Facebook group for parents of children at our son’s school I did so with these leading questions;
Anyone in this group a member of the Hills District Mums Facebook Group?
Would you object to a dad being in this group?
I know I ruffled a few feathers when I asked that. I know that I had mothers who I am friends with on Facebook worried about my “legal action” and those who were in the school group worried that a dad was looking at penetrating the castle walls looking at spoiling the sanctuary created inside.
And I know this; the questions and comments within the discussions appearing in both posts made their way to the administrators of the Hills District Mums Facebook Group (HDMFG) and the question of letting dads into the group was posted in the group. I heard there was support from both sides; some mums thinking that it wouldn’t be a bad idea but others suggesting that it should be mothers only.
Regular readers of my blog know how I have been trying to bridge the gap between mothers and fathers. They know I have been trying to break down the walls, smash through that glass ceiling that us dads have in the world of parenting. And because of this those people will be somewhat shocked at what I am about to write. Of course, those who truly know me, those who know to read between the lines will understand that some of this will be riddled with irony, but which lines are literal and which aren’t, that’s up to you dear reader…
So without further ado I present to you Five Reasons Why Mothers Need a Secret Mums Club;
- Some mothers aren’t ready to give up the parenting duties.
It is true. There are mothers who want to do it all. There are still households where the role of the father/man of the household is bread-winner, handy-man, gardener (well mower at least) and barbecue chef only. The father would never be expected to cook dinner unless there is a barbecue to be had. They wouldn’t be expected to do laundry. They wouldn’t be expected to do any domestic chores, and they certainly wouldn’t be expected to raise the kids.
These are the sorts of dads that still refer to looking after their kids when their partner goes out as “baby-sitting my kids.” I meet these dads at the local town centre. Yes, they still exist. For some of them their only involvement with looking after small children on their own is watching them at the play area while their wife is getting her hair done.
2. Many women are still embarrassed by personal issues.
This comment was made on my personal Facebook page by a friend who is a mother and a member of the HDMFG group;
“a man cant relate to breastfeeding issues and female contraception, im sure you dont want to hear about VBAC and craacked nipples, do you?”
It was met with this reply a little further down in the discussion by a friend of my wife’s who is also a Dad Blogger (Darrell Wallace of Wait Until Your Mother Gets Home);
“I also probably know as much if not more about breast feeding than many woman. I know the torture that my wife went through with having to have 2emergency ceaser sand then not being able to find a doctor or hospital that would let her try a VBAC. Darrell, myself and many other fathers may be able to offer an insight or perspective from a male view point that could help mums and their husbands.”
In verbal discussions about this topic with my wife (yes sometimes we talk outside the realms of social media) she had told me that when she was having an issue with breastfeeding she asked the question on her personal Facebook page and Darrell Wallace gave her the best advice. And I need to point out that when she told me this it was before she had seen the discussion on my page so she wasn’t merely corroborating his comment.
Another mother who resides outside The Hills area waited to chime in with this discussion and her comment seemed to finalise the debate on my page at least;
“I love talking to SAHD’s they are a great source of knowledge and have a totally different perspective (sometimes a little clearer, just sometimes) on parenting and i have on plenty of occasions asked both Shaun and Darrell for advice on stuff! I absolutely love your comments Darrell Wallace there is no need for such a divide, imagine how great it would be if dads actually knew how mums felt by comments on these pages…”
Now in addition to me (Darrell) and my wife’s friend (Darrell Wallace) there is a further friend of mine from my school days Shaun who whilst not being a Dad Blogger, he is someone who gives great advice and is very active in raising his kids.
And sometimes, just like my wife did, we have females friends (often mothers) asking personal questions and they are willing to take on advice from their female friends and male friends.
But just as we have all those chain-store women’s only gymnasiums popping up around Australia (Curves, Contours, Fernwood, BodyShape, etc.) many women are too embarrassed to discuss their personal life with men. That’s cool. I understand that.
3. All men on public Facebook pages are trolls. All of them.
For those who have been following me from the early days long before I started my old blog “The Squircle” which lead to this Dad Blog that I focus my attention to, you would know that there was a time that my articles were written exclusively for the website Baby Hints and Tips who have the very successful Facebook pages Baby Hints and Tips and Toddler Hints and Tips. Both of those Facebook pages are public and can be followed by anyone.
Back when I first liked that page on Facebook it was after my wife joined and made a comment to help out a mother in need who asked a question on that page. Her comment popped up on my wall feed and naturally being as inquisitive as I am, I clicked on the link and read the advice that was given.
Then I went back and read some of the other questions posted and read the responses that followed. I decided to like the page and keep an eye on it. Many of the questions had this as their open line;
“Hey mums, can you give me some advice on….”
Now seeing that this is a public page accessible to both mothers AND fathers I found it off putting that many of the questions were addressed to mothers only. Often I would have some great advice to give the person asking the question and I would start of my response with;
“Hey, not a mum but I thought that this advice might help…”
And surely enough I started to get likes for my responses. Soon, some of my bits of advice were racking up 20 or more likes while the mothers who were replying were getting one, or two, or, well, much less than 20.
Now I’m not saying that my advice was the best advice but I attributed it partly to be good advice and partly to it coming from a dad. How do I know this? Because often times there would be mothers making comments like “hey Darrell, it’s great to see a dad giving advice” amongst other positive comments. BUT…
There was a time that my comments were deleted because it was assumed by the administrators that I was a troll. The same way I add a touch of humour to even my most serious posts, I sometimes did that within my responses, and it was possibly a failing of mine, or a poor misjudgement by the administrator, but either way, the comments were deleted.
I did take it up with the administrators that I was “offended” (more hyperbole?) by the “hey mums” salutation and sent them a private message and this is part of the reply I received;
Sorry I took until today to get back to you – bit crazy yesterday!! It’s fantastic to not only see a dad on this page who is actually interested in the page (rather than the trolling we usually get from our bloke members – before they are banned) but is also a contributor We’d love to see more dads on here – there is so much they can offer, both in support but also their perspective. Thank you for your feedback, we are seriously discussing some of your points (the ones that are feasible from our side of the fence) and will be implementing them soon. We do try to be all-inclusive but it is hard to slip into ‘mummy’ speak when pretty much all our members are women, but we will try harder.
It was not long after that and my continued involvement in being active on their page giving advice that I was invited to write my first Dad Blog for them; Dads Are Parents Too. That was followed up by a further two or three exclusive articles for them until my own blog was released, and I only decided to do my own blog after receiving positive comments from the mothers following that page as well as the administrators who were pleased that my articles were resulting in many page views for their website.
Not long after that I was invited to become an administrator. The owner of the website/Facebook pages sent me a friend request, and then gave me administrator access to the Toddler Hints and Tips page. And behind the scenes is awesome. It is where the team of volunteer administrators discuss whether a question posed on the page is okay to publish (there may be legal ramifications with publishing certain question where advice on medications is being sort).
And my opinion mattered. I didn’t always get my way and some questions I thought should be reworded went to press as is, and yet others that I thought were okay were reworded or rejected altogether. But that didn’t matter. I was part of this parenting advice team. Yes, a dad. A dad had broken through and his opinion mattered.
I have since parted ways with my volunteered administration role as I have become too involved in not only my own website and its Facebook page, but in the lives of our sons who are both getting to ages where they need my undivided attention. I still read the page. I still give the occasional advice. And I often post questions to them and get advice from other parents, much of which I take on board and it helps me be a better parent myself.
But, all men are trolls so…
4. Mums Need A Place Where They Can Bitch About Their Husbands
Maybe I should change this point to read mums need a place where they can bitch about their husbands, in private.
5. The “If it Saves Just One Life” Rule
The HDMFG group (yes I know that’s sort of like saying the ATM machine) provides a great service and if keeping it private and accessible to women only keeps it alive and helps women, who am I to want that to change that?
And if having it as a public domain or having it as a private group but open to dads joining turns off just one mother who really could do with some advice but only wants to discuss it in private, I don’t want it to be open to dads like me. I don’t want that mum to miss out. More importantly, for the sake of her kids, I don’t want her to miss out on getting advice that will better their lives.
Summing it up…
You see, while my blog is dad focused with many of the posts (as many Dad Blogger blogs are), it is actually an open forum where both mothers and fathers can read about how dads want to be seen, how dads want to be included, and how dads in our ever changing society could, would and/or should be.
It is for the fathers who aren’t sure if they should be more focused on their family or more focused on their career. It is for the fathers who don’t think they have a voice when it comes to raising kids. It is for the fathers who want to make sure they are on the right path (not that I’m an expert, remember, I still look to parenting advice pages to make sure what I am doing is right).
But it is also for those mothers who contact me and say “can you speak to my husband because all he does is play Playstation?” (And no I can’t, but you can point them in the direction of this website and those of my fellow Dad Bloggers). It is for those mothers who I mentioned in point number one who want to keep the parenting cards close to their chest (that’s a poker reference, not a boob joke, okay?) And it’s for those mothers who run businesses selling products for kids who don’t include dads in their marketing or those mothers who run parenting blogs, websites, news aggregators and online magazines for “parents” but only ever focus on the mother.
I guess there are those dads out there who will be where I was a week ago thinking “they shouldn’t have this private group for mums only.” They might be thinking “hey you’ve given some great arguments in here to suggest we SHOULD be allowed to join.” Sit down mate. Sit down. Take a load off your feet.
We could start our own private group for dads. Just dads. And we could talk about our kids. We could talk about the rash on our groins. We could talk about the things that the mums are talking about in their group right now. Not sport. Not which beer is the best. Just about our kids.
Who is with me? You? No? You couldn’t be bothered? That’s what I thought…
So it’s over to you dear reader. What do you think? Should mums have their private Facebook group? I have made up my mind that this group should stay as it is, but tell me what you think….