Dads only playgroups and breakfast clubs are springing up across the UK and worldwide. Why do dads need their own space?
Dads and Littl’uns in Wimbledon, South London, is a playgroup just for dads.
Dads and Tots in Didsbury, South Manchester, is a place for dads to get a bacon sandwich, a coffee, and some quality time with their young children.
Dads & Kids Breakfast Club is a Saturday morning group specifically for single dads and their children, based in Chelsea, West London.
Dads Rock run three playgroups two on Saturday and one on Sunday – at locations across Edinburgh, while the Fathers Network runs a Dads and Kids group in Dundee.
These are the tip of an iceberg of parenting clubs that are springing up across the country with one unique feature: they’re just for dads.
Why just dads?
Do we need clubs just for dads and kids? The groups are increasingly popular, suggesting they are meeting a real need.
According to its founders, Dads and Littl’uns exists because, “many of the fathers found other groups were heavily populated with women.” They felt like they stood out like a sore thumb.
Originally a get-together between some local dads, the group soon grew to become a source of support and encouragement for many fathers who were feeling out of place in more traditional playgroups.
Paul, a father of two from West Yorkshire who has attended dads-only playgroups, agrees: “I was always the main carer for my children, and took them to all sorts of playgroups when they were little. I was often the only man there, and sometimes I got the feeling that, even though everybody was friendly, the women were a bit guarded around me.
“When a dads only meet-up started on Saturday mornings in the next town, I jumped at the chance.”
Dads spending more time with children
Dads appreciate places where they can be with other dads, and that’s increasingly true as they take on more responsibility for childcare. Recent studies show that fathers spend somewhere between three and ten times more time with their children than they did half a century ago.
Meanwhile, figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are over 230,000 stay-at-home-dads, a figure that has doubled in a decade.
In other words, the rise of dad groups is simply meeting a need. More dads, spending more time on childcare, want somewhere to mix with other dads in a relaxed and mutually supportive environment.
But can’t dads just mix with mums? Of course they can and do, and mostly the experiences are positive. But a Mumsnet thread on “being a dad in a mum’s world” revealed that dads can sometimes feel patronised and lonely in mum-dominated situations. It goes on to state that mum groups can sometimes be cliquey – or at least that’s the way it felt to dads.
And, as Dad Without a Map recently asked, after numerous encounters with mums who regarded him with indifference or suspicion: “Are dads who go to playgroups etc. seen as an annoyance or out of place? Do some mums have an issue with dads ‘invading’ their spaces?”
When a dad has to ask questions like these, perhaps it’s not surprising that dads-only groups and clubs are on the rise.
What are your experiences of dads-only groups?