Editor’s Note: As you may have noticed, this site continues to be a treasure trove of fathers’ perspectives – sharing their stories, expressing their feelings, and discussing ways to improve their craft as parents. As parents, we seek a sense of belonging- a comfortable place to vent frustrations, learn best practices, and communicate with others that are going through the same things. Today’s post is by Jason Greene, a talented writer, member of the NYC Dads Group, and a stay at home dad for over 8 years. Here he discusses the importance of being around other dads. You can read more of his writing on www.thejasongreene.com. This guest blog post is cross-posted on his site as well. – L.S.
When my first son was born in 2004, I jumped right into my new parenting role. I never backed down from dirty diapers, cuts and bruises, or putting him to bed. As I transitioned into being a stay-at-home dad, I felt that something was missing though. Adult communication. Being alone with a baby all day was great and I loved my time with him, but making goo goo gaga noises and singing “The Wheels on the Bus” over and over again grew tiresome.
When I began my journey in fatherhood, there weren’t any dads groups around and so I joined moms groups. And to the credit of those moms, I never once felt out of place. They all treated me with the respect that is due to a parent. Most new parents have the same philosophy when raising babies – if they’re hungry, you feed them. If they’ve got a mess in their diaper, you change it. We were in it together.
As my son grew older, though, things began to change, and as he reached the toddler years, I began to feel out of place in the group. The way I parented was different than many of the moms in the group. Most of the other parents had girls that enjoyed quietly playing with dolls, stuffed animals, or doing arts and crafts. My son enjoyed running, playing sports, and anything that involved some sort of collision. Yes, they fit the stereotypes. And I allowed and encouraged my son’s play style. Unfortunately, many of the girls playing quietly with dolls were at the end of his quick run. It may not have been the case, but I felt the other parents (moms) were judging my son (and me) because of his style of play. I didn’t think they fully understood where he or I was coming from.
My idea to fix this was to start a dads group. At first it was great. We had a lot of dads showing up at my house with their kids and we played with them, talked, and ate together. We let our kids go wild and run around. We controlled the chaos and it was fun. After a while, though, the dads began to find other jobs that took them away from the group and I was left by myself once again.
My next idea was regular visits to the library. I loved going there with my son – still do – and all the librarians know my children quite well since they have watched them grow up over the years. The library was great, but it didn’t have what I was looking for – communication with other parents about what was going on at home and, dare I say it out loud, my feelings. My search continued.
Finally after being a stay-at-home parent for 8 years, I discovered the New York City Dads Group. I happened upon the group by chance. After working on my blog, I decided to see if there were other dad blogs out there. I had no idea there were so many. Here I thought I was doing something groundbreaking. Anyway, I came across the Dads Group blog and it was exciting. There were hundreds of dads just like me. We talk about parenting, sports, beer and our feelings about being a dad. My search ended; I finally found what I had been looking for.
Jason Greene is a member of NYC Dad’s Group and has been a stay-at-home dad for over 8 years. You can read more of his writings at www.thejasongreene.com and follow him @thejasongreene.