The Thinking 

When Motherhood Becomes Co-ed

December 12, 2012


ELLEN writes:

I wanted to bring up yet another cultural problem that women in the workforce have created in our society: The awkwardness of dealing with “stay-at-home dads.” When my child becomes friends with someone, it’s nice to have a play date. I can have a little grown-up time with the mother; they can run around and be kids with their friends. The problem with stay-at-home dads is that suddenly you as a married woman are expected to spend time alone with a married man, and everyone has to pretend like this is okay. It’s not appropriate and I believe it can lead to improper relationships.

There was once a “mom-dad,” as I like to call them, who was in a baby music class with me. He and one of the other mothers would hang out a lot and formed a very close friendship. It always seemed inappropriate to me. Although I doubt anything actually happened between them, even having that kind of friendship with someone of the opposite sex seemed weird. There are ways to avoid the alone time when you have older children because you can just have the kids over, or send the kids to the other child’s house, but there still must be contact with the person of the opposite gender in coordinating these things and in pick-up and drop-off, and even that can feel wrong.

So what do you do when your children are friends with someone with a stay-at-home dad? Is there a polite way to avoid the interactions while still allowing your children to be friends with theirs? Should you avoid the interactions altogether and discourage the friendships? I don’t feel like it is as cut and dried as, say, having your children avoid friends who are the children of lesbians because it is a friendship that would otherwise be considered okay.

Laura writes:

It’s all too weird. What mother wants to sit down and have coffee with a father during a play date? That’s the time when women spend time together.

There is no etiquette for abnormal situations such as this.

By the way, see Jill Farris’s comment in the previous entry about the awkwardness of fathers at home.

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