Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Criticism of a Dad

Baby-wearing Dad - how can there possibly be anything wrong with this image?!

I've been meaning to blog about this since it happened just over a week ago. Last Sunday my husband, Chris, took our 8 month old to the Farmer's Market with him. He usually goes to the Farmer's Market every week to get our weekly fruit and veg. Normally he would take the two bigger kids and leave Gideon with me but this week he took just Gideon (to give me a chance to get some sewing done - he's great like that ;)) He wore Gideon in the Ergo on his back which is a common occurrence around here.

When he arrived home he was really upset. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that people had made negative comments about him wearing Gideon in the sling. Apparently he was told by a number of people that Gideon was 'too low in the sling' and that he was 'all twisted'. He tried to explain to people that Gideon was fine but he continued to get comments. Normally Chris is pretty good about letting negative comments slide but the comments made him doubt himself and he actually went and checked Gideon's position in the mirror in the toilets. All fine. Of course. Chris knows how to wear a baby safely.

It really irritates me that people focus on the negatives. Perhaps people could have been more thoughtful when they made a comment to Chris - how about saying how great it is to see a Dad wearing their baby before they dive in with their critique of how he is actually wearing the baby? At least then it would have been a bit easier to take, and Chris could have explained to them that he is an experienced baby-wearer who knows how to position a baby in the sling correctly.

Chris made the comment that if he'd had the two bigger kids with him then people wouldn't have made these comments. He felt the comments were made because he looked like a new Dad out with his baby for the first time and, of course, that means that he needs 'help'. And indeed he proved that, as he went back to the Market the following week with the big kids and Gideon in the sling on his back again and he didn't get a single negative comment.

You may remember this article recently where a Dad was called into question by the police when baby-wearing his daughter. It's sad that it's becoming a trend to criticise our Dads for playing an active role in parenting our children. In all my years of baby-wearing I have never had a comment about my baby's positioning in the sling. So why do we think it is ok to do it to Dads? The traditional role of the Father is rapidly evolving as society moves forward and we need to embrace that. C'mon people, let's give Dads a break! I challenge you to say something positive to the next Dad you see baby-wearing their child in public!

1 comment:

Yvette O'Dowd said...

I am starting to get really angry about this - why do people feel they have the right - or the expertise - to be criticising men for wearing babies in slings "incorrectly"? The fact I know both you and the other family involved makes me wonder if this is happening to lots of other people but we don't hear about it because they don't blog or have a supportive, aware community around them?

Are they really saying "I am uncomfortable seeing a father and baby without a mother out in public"? Would a man get the same comments if he was obviously with his partner? Is this simply a mirror of the sort of reactions men had when they started pushing prams (this was still a novelty when our babies were born in the 80s)- and it would have been very rare to see a man do so without a woman nearby.

Or is it more a reflection of what Steve Biddulph talks about - that we now fear men around children and to see such an intimate connection between man and baby makes people uncomfortable and wary.

Whatever it is, I don't like it and want my daughter's partners and my son to feel confident they can carry my future grandchildren confidently outside the home.

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