In January 1961, in his Inaugural Address John F Kennedy said this.
“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.“
Now change the word country to community, than ask yourself what have you done to help your community?
This is something that has been whirling around my head recently.
As a dad who takes an interest in their kids I am aware that the majority of groups were originally started to support mums not dads and now thankfully although the ‘mums and tots’ label remains, these groups are very much open to dads/grandparents ect.
One such group is a mums and tots group that my mother in law take LB to every week. It’s in a local church hall and it is full of little boys and girls playing with toys, making noise and socialising as only kids do.
On one occasion the mother-in-law very selfishly went away on holiday and left me to look after my own child on a Tuesday morning (Sense the sarcasm). Of course a holiday for grandma doesn’t mean LB had to miss out, so off we went, daddy and LB to mums and tots.
The first thing I noticed was out of about 50 people there was only one other male in the room. I’m guessing by his age he was most likely a grandad.
The second thing I noticed was how welcoming everybody was to a dad. I had more than one person say it was great to have a dad in the group.
So why don’t more men go to these groups? With the increase in the UK of stay at home dads, you would think there would be more dads going to these groups. Maybe its the name. Maybe its the fact that all the buggys and prams got left outside the gents loo and I had to fight my way through them to take a pee or maybe it’s just some dads don’t know/feel that they are perfectly welcome in such environments.
So today I went to attend a meeting about the services available in my area and try to learn what, if anything, I can do to help my community. It might just be by being available to help move equipment, it might be running some sort of social media account, maybe help with a play group similar to the one mentioned above which is run by a local church or I may not be able to help at all, but with the lack of focus on bringing in a male perspective into these services, hopefully I can help in some way.
Of course some of these services are aimed for and used by those that need it the most such as low-income families who can’t afford private playgroups or nurseries, but just like the dads group I attend once a month some are open to everybody.
Have you ever used any of these services?
Do you do anything in your local community to help others?
How would you feel about a man running a ‘parent and tots’ group?
If you’re a man, do you attend these parent and toddler groups? If not, why not?
I really would love to hear what you think and you may well help me be able to understand the obstacles and overcome some of them.
As always, thanks for reading.