Updated: December 19, 2012 11:16AM
A good number of at-home fathers I know dropped their collective jaws last month after reading an article titled “Navigating Play Dates with Stay-at-Home Dads.”
Wilmette-based Make It Better, an online and print publication for families on the North Shore, produced the article. Tips include avoiding play dates with “a dad you find attractive” and asking your husband to chaperone a play date with a stay-at-home dad and his children.
Now, the article was called to my attention by a group of at-home dads, many of whom actively advocate for full-time fathers. Their reaction mirrored my own, which was equal parts astonishment and feeling offended. One of my buddies even referenced the article on his Facebook page and changed his status to read, “I’m too sexy for your play date.”
Clearly, the article wasn’t written for dads. So I asked some of my mom friends from Chicago’s Morgan Park community to take a look at the piece and share their thoughts.
Perhaps they’d see something that I didn’t within the article. Here’s their take:
“Preschool pickup nowadays has an equal number of moms and dads at our school. That’s a lot of kids who aren’t allowed to play together if we’re counting out mixed-sex interaction,” said Mary Fitzpatrick-Duleba. Her daughter, Hallie, is in preschool with my son, Peter.
She went on to say that any play date that leads to an affair is likely rooted in an unhappy home life.
“Lucky for me, my husband is just as hot as any of the dads on the play date circuit, so I’ve got nothing to worry about,” Fitzpatrick-Duleba said.
Colleen Kozubowski said the article doesn’t give parents credit for being able to show restraint.
“If you buy into the argument being presented in this article, you have to assume that men and women who work closely together in a professional setting are bound to end up romantically involved,” said Kozubowski, another preschool mom.
A neighbor, Carly Carney, gave the article kudos for touching on a seldom-shared secret — parenting can be a lonely job. Indeed, the article does reference “emotional infidelity.”
“It feels really good to connect with another human being during the day,” Carney said. “That being said, it is really more of a personal or marriage issue than moms and dads having play dates.”
Lisa Lyle’s son, David, is in first grade with my son, Bubba. She strongly disagreed with the article’s suggestion that moms refrain from complaining about their husbands during play dates with stay-at-home dads.
“There’s a natural tendency to vent about situations at home with your friends, whether they be male or female,” Lyle said.
She sided with the article’s suggestion that stay-at-home dads share any play dates they have scheduled throughout the day with their spouse. And she thought it was a good idea for dads to introduce their wives to their “mom friends,” as recommended by the article.
“But I see this more as an opportunity to get to know the whole family and its dynamic,” Lyle said.
I was relieved to learn that none of my female friends outwardly agreed with the article. Then again, maybe they were just being nice. If I start seeing chaperones on the playground, I’ll know how they really feel.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.