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I feel excluded

(26 Posts)
FengHuang Wed 26-Sep-12 11:44:38

For 6 months I've been doing the school run with our daughter, and I've tried my best to fit in with the mums in the playgorund. I talk to them whenever possiible. I initiate conversation whenever possible. I've invited kids for playdates a few times, although on a couple of occasions it's felt like getting blood out of a stone. Reciprocation has not always been forthcoming and no one has ever invited my little girl for a play date without their child having been invited to our house first. And when my 4yr old uses the word "lonely" it breaks my heart and makes me accutely aware of the impact this has on her social development and happiness.

Last night I got an email inviting mums to a social evening, and I found myself incandescent with rage (I'm calming down now) that, despite doing my best to fit in in the playground, I am actively excluded from being part of this group. A group that indirectly has a huge impact on my child's present and future.
And all because I'm not a full time mum. I'm a full time dad.

BigFatLegsInWoolyTIghts Wed 26-Sep-12 12:22:30

Bollocks. It's not because you're a Dad it's because people are lazy. A million Mums will tell you they have had the same experience.

Not inviting kids for playdates isn't a crime...people are busy...if they invte your DD back that is good! It means they like her!

You had the email for the social evening...isn't that an invitation?

FengHuang Wed 26-Sep-12 13:06:51

I'll resist the urge to respond with the same opening word and assume you weren't trying to be offensive. I can't comment on how many women have similar problems, or the specifics of their situations - I don't know a million mums. But at best that underlines the hideous tribalism of playground politics.

There are plenty of play dates going on. Being lazy or busy has nothing to do with it. Quite the converse - a play date is (amongst other things) free child care for a couple of hours.

And the invitation explicitly said dads are not invited.

There are plenty of "mums only nights". No one is interested in dads' only events - they have been organised and are really badly attended. And why should there ever be single gender only parents events?

I'll probably get slated for this but it's my honest opinion. I think it's a bit awkward trying to forge platonic opposite sex friendships when you're married/living with someone. I can't imagine a situation where I would invite a playground dad round to my house for a couple of hours in the same way I would with a mum. It just sounds a bit dodgy, even if it was completely innocent it'd still set tongues wagging in my tiny village hmm and if the friendship progresses like it does with women, how you go forward from there? You can't go for a drink in the pub, you can't drop into each others houses for a glass of wine and a natter, you can't text each other all day... all those things sound like dating, it's all dodgy ground. The situation is different if your child is old enough to be dropped off and picked up from a playdate, it wouldn't stop me then.

But with regard to the invite, I wouldn't get all strung up on the language used, if it says "mums" (unless it's a girly pampering evening or a trip to see the chippendales) then I'm sure they mean mums, dads and guardians. Just go along, what's the worst that can happen?

My ds used to say he was lonely, one year on he has plenty of friends. My advice to you would be to try and organise lots of little social things, birthday party, maybe a halloween party or tea at soft play after school? Or invite more than one school friend over at once and make sure the mums know each other are coming. It takes all the potential intimacy out of it.

Cross posted. Dads not invited? That's a bit shit. Who organised that? the school?

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Wed 26-Sep-12 13:12:47

Bring it to their attention. It's not in the school's interest to be so sexist and exclusive. They should be promoting inclusiveness and as part of their community cohesion brief everyone should be made to feel welcome at events.

Join the pta so that your voice can be heard more readily?

You may not know a million Mums but the schoolyard can be like this for everyone. I moved here 6 years ago and knew not a soul. I became a school governor and a member on the pta and am now a very well known face around school and our town.

People do seem to be inherently lazy, it's more that fact than busyness.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 13:16:15

Why did you get an email about the social evening when you're not invited? confused Surely the email was an invite?

Am a bit confused about how a 4 yr old has been in school 6 months already by Sept - did you mean six weeks?

We weren't doing playdates this early in reception.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 13:17:59

Our school organised a Dads night out and as I am a single mum I sent a jokey email asking whether I could come as I perform both functions. They were very welcoming (though I didn;t actually go!).

Just reply and ask if its aimed at "mums" specifically or parents.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 13:20:18

just re-read that it said Dad;s specifically excluded. OK as a one off girlie night out but not if its the kind of thing they do regularly. Can you talk to the class reps and explain your position.

Playdates at 4 quite often aren;t "free child care" my child wouldn't have let me leave at this stage - at least not until they've been to someones house at least once.

FengHuang Wed 26-Sep-12 14:50:49

The school has a nursery unit that takes kids from the Jan before Reception. There have been play dates throughout this time, including the school hols. The norm is that you pick up the other child at the end of school and they are collected from your house a couple of hours later.

The socials are organised by (unelected volunteer) parents - calss reps, and the school does not have any specific evolvement. There have been various mums' only nights out, no dads' only events (as far as I can think) and only a few parents' only events.

I'd love to have the time to join the PTA or governors, but pretty much every waking hour I have not spent parenting is spent trying to hold together the few tatted rags of my carreer in the wake of becoming a parent. (I know I'm not alone there!) And looking at some of the emails from the PTA and school, I'm not sure they've heard of gender stereotyping.

(I'm trying not to be glass-half-empty on this so thanks for the input.)
I may ask if I qualify as an honorary mum.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 14:55:53

"I may ask if I qualify as an honorary mum." thats pretty much exactly what I said in my email on the Dad's night out (obviously substituting Dad for mum). We have no SAHD but lots of fathers do pick up and drop off and a few also do school trips so I guess we are much more used to both sexes around.

Is there one or other of the mums who are part of the "in crowd" who are more approachable who you can talk to about feeling excluded?

It might be worth a try?

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 14:56:45

oh and the non-reciprocation is heart-breaking but not uncommon - I have a problem with it too and still have no idea why.

sparklingwine Wed 26-Sep-12 14:58:57

Jamesandthegiant. I disagree with you. I have a couple of stay at home dad friends (I'm a stay at home mum) who im very happy to meet up with/have round/ text to make arrangements. Yes, it's a different friendship to those friendships I have with women, but it's still a friendship. My DH isn't concerned, neither are the partners of my male friends.
OP persevere- there will be some women who don't want to be friends cos you're male, but there are normal people out there who hopefully will make more effort soon. The mums only events does sound rubbish- perhaps you could suggest some ideas for non- gender specific events.
Good luck

nilbyname Wed 26-Sep-12 15:03:50

Shame on them...but I think you will have to do more of the leg work here to make sure the other mums feel like you can be part of their group. It is crap though.

Email them, tell them you "would love to attend as you love a night out, thanks for the email invite, and see you then", be assumptive and join in.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 15:06:11

"be assumptive and join in." blimey you'd need balls of steel to do that! I wouldn't have the nerve and I've been a class rep AND am on PTA!

nilbyname Wed 26-Sep-12 15:11:15

I would. Even if I went and it was shit and I left after a drink. I would make myself do it. Well I have, nothing ventured nothing gained and all that.

I went to a jewellery party (hell) as I wanted to get to know some of the other mums better. I spent about 1 hour there, chatted to a handful of mums and left. But it was a start. My sons playground has a massive clique and it is hard to break in. But you have to keep on trying, and eventually you will get in. Try and find one or two mums that you like and see if you can forge a friendship there. Coffee after the school run, a game of squash?

stealthsquiggle Wed 26-Sep-12 15:20:23

There are all sorts of exclusion, of which this is one. IMpersonalE there is more of a SAHP/WOHP "divide" than a SAHM/SAHD one in my DC's school, but I am waiting and watching with interest - in DC1's year, there were almost no working mothers, and drop off/pick up/party duty was almost exclusively done by mothers. Social events mostly seem to be coffee mornings, and I know there is a whole party/dinner circuit which we are not part of, which I suspect orginates from these coffee mornings (which they don't even bother inviting me to any more as they know I work). In DC2's year, it is almost 50/50 and there seem to be a fair few self employed (or possibly SAHD) fathers who do all the school runs. So far, there have been a couple of "parents" social events, which we haven't been to because I am too antisocial lazy to organise babysitters etc. In DC1's year, there is an annual "mothers' lunch" and there are no mold-breaking fathers to test if that is deliberate exclusion or just assumptive.

Good Luck, OP. A gentle and clearly humorous "us Dads like social events too, you know.." reply to the email might just possibly get the message through?

MistyB Wed 26-Sep-12 15:22:40

I would approach the class rep and say that you think that the class nights out should be open to everyone. I think it is a difficult position to be in as you are clearly in a minority. SAHPs do not have work social occasions open to them and often find themselves looking after children while their partners attend them. I can see the thinking behind not inviting both parents as this can result in a completely different kind of social event, one which is more revolved around couples and involves greater logistical planning in terms of baby sitters etc. I do however, they should not exclude Dad's per say.

At our school, there is a SAHM dad who is also class rep and he organises father and child events. I am not sure he feels entirely comfortable at the Mum only (never called that!!) nights out and sometimes his partner comes instead. He does attend coffee mornings, plays in the park after school and has made friends among the other school gate parents.

Good luck!! It is difficult being in a minority. I remember working in an all male, apart from me, factory and if anyone ever spoke to me, the other guys on the line jeered / whistled / made comments. It was very hard to be included in the social life that went along side work and awkward from both sides. I had moved to the area for the job so had no other social life to rely on. I did meet some sensible people and did make some friends! So I can completely understand what it feel like!!

funchum8am Wed 26-Sep-12 15:27:28

I think this kind of thing is a real problem and it needs to change in the light of more dads being the SAHP these days. I am going to back to work in a few months after baby is born (40+6 today) and I emailed NCT to see if my DH could go on their post-natal course - they said no, it is women only. Since I will be back at work by the time the course runs in our area and DH will be a full time SAHP at that point I was disgusted.

Huge sympathies, OP, and I hope that you can find the strength to persevere and blaze a trail for other dads, at least in your area, to have a better experience in the future. Someone needs to pioneer this in areas where people haven't yet got used to the idea of dads who are the main carer (and their DC) needing the same support as mums!

Viviennemary Wed 26-Sep-12 15:34:10

My son did have a friend when he was younger whose father was a stay at home dad. There was no problem. I didn't meet his Mum for years. But I don't think this Dad expected to be included in playground chats or coffee mornings. That's just how it is.

DameKewcumber Wed 26-Sep-12 15:48:12

"That's just how it is" confused

No it isn't - at least not here. Our class rep this year is a father. only this morning I was talking to a Dad about arranging a playdate

Why on earth wouldn't you include a Dad in playground chat [confused.

I'm beginning to be very grateful for the school we're at!

Solution OP - move here.

EldritchCleavage Wed 26-Sep-12 15:52:49

Well, my SAHD husband found himself very excluded by a lot of mothers, and still does. Some women are very pointedly unfriendly unless I and/or their partners are also present, as if they are paranoid about being seen speaking to a member of the opposite sex.

It has got better with time and he now has a few nice friends among the local mothers. We notice that most are themselves in some way unusual, or outsiders, so all the non-conventional parents have flocked together.

steppemum Wed 26-Sep-12 16:10:48

sorry you feel so excluded. I am surprised by your post and by some of the responses, as my experience is obviously different. We have a lot of dads at the school gate, also nans, childminders, aunties, uncles etc. All social invites that are connected to school are for both or either.

Also, I can understand the playdate thing. Unlike others my dd has been doing playdates for ages. After nursery on the way home, sometimes she would go back to her df house and sometimes he would come back to ours (live in same street) we often organised a couple of hours with friend, drop off and pick up later. BUT. If I had to stay, would be uncomfortable opposite gender, alone in house with you and dcs. It just isn't the way I construct my social life, one on one with opposite gender (I am married) If I dropped dd off and left, that has its own problems. Like it or not, because of the society we live in, I would think twice before leaving my dd with a man who I don't yet know. I do it with her friend in our street. Friend is a boy, Dad and Mum both work shifts, so it is often Dad picking up. We walk home together and chat (only met them through school) and would let dd go there for playdate with dfs Dad. Difference is both dad and mum are police. and mum works in thier childprotection department, so I feel safe with them.

Last sept I was new mum - moved to area had 2 older kids in school and one in nursery. I had one friend whose son started reception. We hate playground cliches and noticed that while lots of the mums (and it is mums) know each other there were lots looking a bit isolated. So we set up a coffee morning. We invited anyone to my house (we have big lounge) for coffee once a week. It has evolved into once every 2 weeks and we invite mums dads grans and carers. We took the initiative. Now I am reception mum and we are doing it again, lots of new mums, those whose kids hadn't been to nursery are so grateful to be invited. I have noticed that many mums just don't want/need any more friends

CinnabarRed Wed 26-Sep-12 16:19:21

You'd be made very welcome in the Red household, I can tell you that for nothing.

Nice DC (of either sex) + nice primary carer (of either sex) = playdate invitation.

I'm really sorry you're being made to feel this way. It's wrong. Categorically so.

steppemum Wed 26-Sep-12 20:36:09

actually the more I think about it, the more surprised I am that you are the only man at the gate. I have been a gate mum at 2 very different schools, and there were always a good smattering of dads. Lots of families where mum and dad took turns. Everyone chats to whoever. The clichey group is clichey to anyone, but we talk to others.

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