I am lucky to be part of communities where people organize social gatherings. There always seems to be block parties, Halloween parties and potlucks in my neighborhood and around the schools my children attend. This time of year is particularly busy since the kids have returned to school and Thanksgiving is still X weeks off.
This week I added to my calendar two potlucks, including one that I am hosting. This morning, after the second one was organized, I realized something: me and the other moms are discriminating against the men, especially fathers.
In one of these neighborhood potlucks, I helped to create the email distribution list for the invitation. For the houses where I had the email address for both the wife and the husband, I submitted only the email address for the wife. I DID only have email addresses for husbands at two of the houses, so I submitted those without thinking about hunting down the wife’s email address. But every other time I had a choice I decided that the husband either would miss the email, would not want to be bothered with a potluck invitation, or would assume his wife was handling the matter entirely.
This morning I noticed that in organizing a potluck for the parents and children in one of our classes, we excluded all of the fathers on the email distribution list for those communications.
In many of these families the mother works full time. In some of these families the father/husband may be more inclined to attend than the mother/wife. Still, the assumption is that in all of these homes the woman is the household manager; responsible for family
communications, family calendar and child logistics. In my family we have two houses, so my ex-husband – the father of my children – was not invited to this potluck.
Recently I had a conversation with a single father who very much wanted to be part of the school community. He thought volunteerism would be a great way to engage with the school, be involved in his child’s life and feel like part of the community… and, maybe even meet a nice woman or two! When he showed up as a volunteer for a school play he said people avoided him. He felt like he did not belong. He ended up standing alone for much of the evening while the women had conversations all evening long.
What are we doing to our fathers? With half of all marriages ending in divorce, and millions of children in the US being born to single moms, we cannot afford to exclude fathers from our communities – unless they opt out. Most of us get dozens if not hundreds of unwanted junk email messages each day. I’m sure a message about joining a social event with one’s child is among the welcome ones!