Dad shaming: A father’s heartbreaking texts about his play centre visit

Dad and toddler
Dad shaming is a real phenomenon where dads are treated with suspicion when alone with their kids

Dad shaming can make fathers feel unworthy and like ‘lesser parents’ our community. While it’s important to keep kids safe, it’s important to approach issues with balance and recognise that dads are parents too. This story has been told on North Shore Mums in our Facebook Group and is shared here with permission. 

When we saw this dad’s story being told on the North Shore Mums Facebook group, we knew it was important to share.

A North Shore Dad was at a local play centre with his toddler, and was shocked when mothers began eyeing him suspiciously and giving him “dirty looks”. His text exchange with his wife will resonate with parents everywhere.

Here’s their story, in the mum’s own words.

Dad-shaming: One dad’s story

“Why the hate on dads with small kids?

So my husband this morning took our toddler to a play centre, one we have both been to before as solo and as a family.

I took our toddler there last week, took a ton of photos and sent them to dad to show how much fun we had.

Today, I asked if he took any photos, and this is a photo of his reply.

dad shaming

These texts from a dad at a park with his child explain how others mums were suspicious of him

“This is so sad, and it’s only going to discourage him from taking our son out solo which he loves doing. They went on a bush walk last week and a train ride.

I know there was a horrible incident at Penrith on the weekend, and those people should be barred from society.

But when a dad wants to take their kid out and is being an active parent (playing with their own child) some mums need to chill the hell out and know that men can be great parents too.

Argh! End rant! (And yes he was the only dad there, all others were just mums and their kids).”

Dad-shaming: Stories we shared 

The story of the incident sparked a conversation in the group, with many mums sharing similar stories and support. Here’s what they shared:

  • I remember once my dad came with me and my kids to the shops and he was taking photos of them (proud grand dad) but then was approached by a woman who asked very rudely why he was taking pictures. My dad was so embarrassed and upset. I had to go up and defend him. She didn’t even apologise! I understand ppl are are being careful but in that situation, it is so sad that the worst is assumed and male carers are made to feel bad.”
  • I love seeing a dad whether biological or not making an effort with their children. There’s not enough dads in society doing this so good on your husband and tell him to give them filthy looks back Cos he’s doing an awesome job!” 
  • This is awful! I went to a Crocs this morning and was thrilled to see three dads there, I’m keen for my husband to go. How awful! Next time I will tell them how I think it’s so great that they are there!”
  • A good friend of mine took his daughter to the park a few years back and a woman approached him requesting he prove that his daughter was his otherwise she would call the police. His daughter heard the whole thing and was distraught that her daddy was going to be taken away by the police. Disgusting behaviour.”
  • My hubby has felt the same thing quite often which I agree is super shit. I think unfortunately it’s the times we live in ☹️ thankfully if he spoke one on one with the Mums I think most would be happy to see him there but it’s that fear of the unknown – especially just after that horrible incident, maybe ask him to give it another chance a little way down the track and see if it’s a different experience.”
  • My hubby worked 4 days and often took my daughter to playgroup but he needed a lot of encouragement to go as it was def not the ‘norm’. We need more dads at playgroups and taking kids out independently- it’s such a shame he was made to feel like this. Hopefully he can go again but go with the confidence that he is doing nothing wrong and don’t worry about nasty glares because he is 100% in the right.”

Dad-shaming: It has to stop!

This incident is not the first we’ve seen, including this North Shore Mum’s shocking story of dad shaming, or the famous case of a Melbourne woman who posted a Facebook image of a man she said was a ‘creep’ and a – but who turned out to be taking a selfie with a cardboard cutout of Darth Maul from Star Wars.

dad shopping

This post wrongly suggested the man was a sex offender

Dad selfie

The accused, whose face was shown in the post, was actually taking a selfie with a movie poster

While it’s important to be vigilant, and a child’s safety is paramount, we can do this while being mindful, being fair and raising children with a healthy sense of community and trust in those around them. As parents, we might now consider how we can balance ‘stranger danger’ with normalising dads spending time with their kids at the park so we promote an inclusive society.

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