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to call this is sex discrimination at our local Children's Centre?

(109 Posts)
learnasyougo Sat 30-Nov-13 16:25:24

Our local children's centre runs weekly 'Stay and Play' drop in sessions on a weekday morning. My husband (SAHD) often goes to these with our toddler son. It's mostly mums, but there is another father who goes occasionally, too.

Being a weekday morning I can never go (to spend time with DS and see him interact with other children), as I work full time.

Once a month, on a Saturday morning, the same centre runs a 'Dads' Stay and Play' drop-in, so working fathers can a) have the same sort of experience with their children and b) have somewhere to go to give SAHM a break, presumably. I know not all fathers have Saturdays free, but presumably a shift-working father would be able to make the weekly one from time to time, at least.

So my husband asked when the next one would be because his wife (me) would like to go.

"Oh no. It's men only" was the reply. He said his wife works full time, though "yes, a few people have complained about that" but it was left at that.

This is sex discrimination, right? I qualify in every other way, except for the Y chromosome. I can understand a men-only space if this were some sort of support group or talking therapy and having women about might inhibit men.

I'm really annoyed by it. I'm wondering whether they'd actually turn me away if I turned up. I would love to see him in a social environment, interacting with other children and playing with other sorts of toys we don't have at home, and give DH a break. I was annoyed enough at everything on a Saturday always being a 'dads' whatever, yet the regular, normal event is never described as a 'mums' event - a reverse of the 'men as default' so prevalent elsewhere in society.

So, should I just turn up anyway? Next one isn't until next month.

Bubbles1066 Sat 30-Nov-13 17:31:50

Mums in general aren't really their target group though; they have limited funding and have to use it to reach out to the 'hard to reach' groups - dads, young parents, the disadvantaged. It would be great to have mums or a general group on the weekend but there have to heat the place, pay the staff... That's pretty hard to do for a lot of them. Of course there maybe disadvantaged working mums who miss out... But there's probably not that many in all honesty. Since the cuts Children's Centres are more like an extension of health/social services for those needing extra input now rather than being there for everyone. It's a shame but that's the ConDems for you.

OddBoots Sat 30-Nov-13 17:33:16

If you disagree with what the cc is doing is it because:

a) you don't think there should be male carer only events


b) you don't think they only groups to happen at the weekend should be male carer only.

I suspect most of those who think the policy is wrong would say 'b' and are perfectly happy to have male only events provided there is accessible alternative provision.

This isn't about it being wrong because it's men, it would be just as wrong if there were only female groups at the weekend.

ImATotJeSuisUneTot Sat 30-Nov-13 17:36:44

I wasn't allowed to the CCs baby massage class because I didn't fulfil any of the criteria. I work, don't smoke, drink or have a drug problem. I'm living with my babies father. There were places on the course. What a waste.

TheCrackFox Sat 30-Nov-13 17:41:06

I'm in the B category Oddboots.

I can see why there is a need to get dads more involved but not all dads are available at the weekends (loads work shifts nowadays) and not all women can attend Mon-Fri either.

sandfrog Sat 30-Nov-13 17:45:47


PeriodFeatures Sat 30-Nov-13 18:21:49

I think it's great that there are men only groups. Men really really need opportunities to socialise and meet other fathers. Mums have automatically got access to networks and support. I have run men only groups in childrens centres and they are valuable. Fathers can be isolated and feel powerless and they need opportunities to meet together

learnasyougo Sat 30-Nov-13 19:46:48

I don't object to the being a men only group, as I agree, they can feel isolated and may find mums take over, but why can there not be a weekend event for working mums? I'm not the only full time working mother. Even if dh worked full time too we would still have the situation that he is the only one of us allowed to take ds to any stay and play groups, yet BOTH should be catered to. If I were a lp ds and I would be entirely excluded. even more isolating.

quietbatperson Sat 30-Nov-13 19:57:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BohemianGirl Sat 30-Nov-13 20:04:18

but why can there not be a weekend event for working mums? I'm not the only full time working mother

so lobby for a similar group instead of hijacking one

TBH its supply and demand, the old 20/80 equation ..... I've yet to see someone have the hebejeebies ove a female only babysitting service hmm, decorators, cab firm and so fort - but woe betide a male only play group and its sexist

moldingsunbeams Sat 30-Nov-13 20:04:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sat 30-Nov-13 20:17:34

We used to go to an under 1s group at the children's centre.

While we were on holiday it was changed to a crawling+ group.

Ds was the littlest there an the only non crawler.

So basically everyone but us is invited. sad

Dd didn't crawl until she was 15 months so if he takes after her he won't get to go until he is too old to go.

Neverland2013 Sat 30-Nov-13 20:24:20

Where we live there are mostly mixed groups (mums & dads). I have to say that when I used to take our DD, I did really feel for some of the dads... as you can see that not all of them feel that comfortable surrounded by women. Saying that, I always thought that they were very brave and in the end is about children. Why should they be at home when their children can enjoy themselves.

OddBoots Sat 30-Nov-13 20:32:31

Mumoftwoyoungkids That's a disgrace, they can't make a group based on the developmental stage of a child, I'm sure that's a clear breach of the Equality Act.

lilyaldrin Sat 30-Nov-13 20:36:42

OP, maybe you could set up a working parents toddler group yourself? See if the CC will let you have a room later in the day on a Saturday, or see if you can hire a church hall or something?

quietbatperson Sun 01-Dec-13 08:11:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

iamadoozermum Sun 01-Dec-13 09:23:36

We're in the same situation - DH is SAHD and I work full-time being out of the house from 6.15am to 7pm, Monday-Friday, so no chance to attend any weekday events. There are no other baby groups at the weekend like swimming or music for us to go to either. So I have no opportunities to meet other mums or develop networks with other parents (other than Mumsnet!). DH doesn't want to go to the Saturday men's group as he is grouped-out by then and it's me that wants the experience. DH was CC parent rep and raised it and I've raised it a number of times but they say it is all to do with funding so tough. I don't want them to stop Men only Saturday groups but it would be lovely to add a Working Parents group too.

brettgirl2 Sun 01-Dec-13 09:32:45

If you want to go then go.

In relation to comments from others it isnt going to help you make friends with other mums though! dh goes and its great actually.

OP I suspect that if you went to toddler groups they would probably lose their appeal pretty fast. Get an annual pass for a local children's attraction instead and go there with lo at the weekend.

Mummytotwox Sun 01-Dec-13 09:45:42

I want to go to a group with my ds he's 4, global development delay so he plays/acts like a 3 yo.

Was told there is no groups we can go too, there all for babies.

Thurlow Sun 01-Dec-13 09:47:12

I can see why they are doing this, but it is annoying. I contacted my CC recently to ask if they could maybe help with advertising or putting together a casual group for weekend mums - DP works most weekends and I struggle sometimes. I'm sure there must be plenty of other mums who wouldn't mind a coffee or a play in the park at weekends. But all they said was "no, we don't do anything except for dads once a month" and that was it. Thanks there, C hmm

ChilliJo Sun 01-Dec-13 09:51:26

I work in a CC. This time last year we had 5 groups on our weekly timetable that were 'universal' (open for all to attend). We are now down to 1 sad .

It is all down to government/LeA targets as to who the most deprived and needy subsets of the population are that year.

If you are father who is an ex offender, with a child with diagnosed SEN, who lives in a dodgy postcode then you will be practically dragged through the door. If you are a married mum, living in a decent area with your 2 pre-school children then you can fuck off. (Unless you announce that either you or the kids live in certain circumstances or have a certain medical or MH condition that you are happy to announce and sign a form stating so).

It is so incredibly short sighted and based on years of experience of seeing how these targeted groups are initiated and then fail, it's seeing up CCs to fail and missing the opportunity to help 'normal' families who need just as much support and who often get far more from the sessions than those who are ticking more boxes. angry

YouStoleMyHat Sun 01-Dec-13 10:06:09

quietbat is that really true? I had the same experience as manchestermummy except the boundaries where I live make it so that the 3 nearest CCs to me aren't the one I'm "allowed" to attend! It's a really odd system and means a lot of people are effectively excluded if they can't get travel the several miles to their "allocated" CC. I complained but they told me that was how it was. Could you point me in the direction of guidance that says this isn't the case?

flatpackhamster Sun 01-Dec-13 10:25:51


OP, maybe you could set up a working parents toddler group yourself? See if the CC will let you have a room later in the day on a Saturday, or see if you can hire a church hall or something?

This. I can't believe it's that hard to round up a group of mums on a weekend.

DumSpiroSpero Sun 01-Dec-13 10:34:42

I also work at a CC and sadly these problems are all down to politics/funding.

We are given targets to meet and have to jump through hoops or risk losing funding and therefore jobs which in turn will mean even less available for families.

It is all assessed to the Nth degree too sad .

We are currently in the ridiculous situation of having to promote breastfeeding as one of our annual targets, yet we are not allowed to hold a bf support group as the other local CFC has one already confused . Never mind all the parents who have older dcs at our nursery and neither the time or transport to get to another Centre for this group angry .

I know it's not a real solution but if it's 'just' a case of wanting to see your DS interacting in a different environment, presumably you could take the occasional day of annual leave and go along to one of the week day groups?

FudgefaceMcZ Sun 01-Dec-13 10:51:06

It is discrimination, unlike womens/mens only swimming sessions where there are some religious and cultural reasons that some people need single-gender groups, there is no need for single gender playgroups unless they're nudist ones ffs. If women try and organise something women only then everyone is up in arms saying 'oh no reverse discrimination poor men' (see also earlier in this very thread), so most womens services have been cut, but apparently now it's ok to have these just because men 'feel left out' in groups with lots of mums, even though it's hardly as though the mums are turning them away (tbh the complete opposite, most playgroups I've seen are overjoyed to have men turning up, and men are already treated like something superhuman just for looking after their own kids). You should send in an official complaint.

TiggyD Sun 01-Dec-13 11:13:17

A lot of men don't like going to places like playgroups that are mostly women. Partly due to not being able to cope in a female environment, partly due to sexist attitudes shown by some women, and I dare say partly fear of being branded a weirdo for wanting to hang around where children are.
There should also be weekend groups for women but I just don't think there is such a need for it as a men's group. CCs would target the bigger need.

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