Making the most of a new life

Singing Dad



I remember watching a TV series with Karen many years ago, I forget which, where a father taking his young son to a singing session with the parents of other toddlers was depicted as a comedy moment. Apart from our ‘hero’ there was one other father and the rest were mothers. The other father was shown as someone who was doted on by the mothers because he knew how the session worked and somehow played the game. The comedy of the scene was that the ‘hero’ did not and so was looked down upon by the teacher, the other father and the mothers. Much embarrassment ensued with hilarious consequences.

This had a big impact on me at the time and I remember saying to Karen something along the lines of: “if you think I’m ever going to do that sort of thing you have got another thing coming”. And this has very much been the case until a few weeks ago when I started to take Sam to a sing and sign session at a local soft play centre.

So was it anything like it was depicted on TV? Well yes and no. In the four times that I have now been with Sam I have been the only male over the age of five on one occasion, and one of two on the other three. What it has not been is a case study in ritual humiliation. So from that point of view I am happy to go because Sam really enjoys it, and it is a great way for us to spend our Mondays; especially when it is cold and rainy.

However, like many things to do with early years child care, I find the soft play centre to be a very female environment. Those working there tend to be female, and it is overwhelmingly mothers and female carers who take their children there. So should this matter? Well in someways it should not, but I would say that it is a much more social occasion for the mothers who come along; as I recently posted on Facebook “the soft play centre: where mothers have friends and fathers have iPads”. One of the responses I got to this was that men would rather stare at a screen than try and connect with other Dads (or Mums) and I suspect that there is more than a scintilla of truth to this; but I think that it is also the case that, in general, Dads tend to go to these places on their own rather than in groups.

So what is my point here? Well what I think is interesting is that despite the recent increase in interest in Dad-related issues, and the number of blogs like this is going up all the time, little seems to have changed in the fifteen years or so since that TV programme was made, from my recent experiences at least.

I wonder why that is? Is there an expectation that such things are still the Mother’s domain? Or do Dads feel uncomfortable about going to singing sessions and the like? Maybe is it simply that Dads are out at work?

I am not sure I know the answer to these questions, but what is certain is that I have written this sitting on my own in a soft play centre while the Mothers around me are being far more sociable.

8 thoughts on “Singing Dad

  1. I’m glad another Dad is blogging about this! My wife is pregnant at the moment and when the baby is born I’ll be the one staying at home with him / her. Even though it’s a while off I must admit I’m a bit anxious about being the only man at things like singing groups. Hope I’ll be able to get stuck in and not be too isolated!

    • Hi. Thanks for your comment. It is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I look at it that I’m basically there to be with my son and help him to enjoy it. I think it also depends whether you go to an open group, in a soft play centre, like I do, or whether it is a stand alone group. If it is the latter then I think it is less isolating as you will see the same people every week (I did swimming lessons with my eldest like this and found it to be more inclusive). I really enjoyed reading your first blog post and, as you will see, you inspired me to write my next post. Hope it all goes well.

      • Yeah, it makes sense that stand alone groups would be a bit less easy to socialise in. I’m planning to make myself do as many regular groups as I can. Will help my social skills as much as the baby’s!

  2. I’ve certainly had similar experiences where I’ve been the only dad (or one of a very small minority) is soft play sheds, activity sessions and so on. I’m more than happy to get involved with whatever my kids are doing, but I’ve certainly felt very awkward and on the periphery of things when it comes to the mums. It’s not that they’re unfriendly, but like you say it’s hard to get up to speed with the ‘rules’, everyone already seems to know everyone else, and it’s difficult to break into the cliques that naturally form when (a) you’re not particularly outgoing, like me and (b) I only go to these places occasionally, so I don’t get the chance to build up any recognition or relationships.

    I often end up twiddling with my phone – not because I necessarily want to, but because it’s better than standing there looking like a complete lemon. I don’t feel excluded – just not included.

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