John Adams is one of the UK's leading dad bloggers, here in his first post for insideMAN he describes how the casual sexism he faced as a newly stay-at-home dad inspired him to blog about fatherhood and why more dads should start to speak out.
This is an exciting moment; writing my first ever post for InsideMAN. I’ve been asked to make this a regular thing, which is fantastic news. On this occasion, the focus will be on my blogging activities and what it’s like to be a dad blogger.
Many people don’t really understand blogging. When I tell someone I write a parenting blog the reaction is often “oh, is it like Mumsnet?” There are incredible similarities between what I do and what mum bloggers do but, no, my activities are not comparable to the Internet juggernaut that is Mumsnet. I wish it were but I must concede I’m a long way off those dizzy heights.
Here’s some background about my blog, Dadbloguk.com. In 2010 I left my old job (and basically my career) to become the main carer for my eldest daughter, Helen. My wife continued to work full time and, with home life in my capable hands, her career has subsequently taken off.
As soon as I became the main carer, I noticed just how sexist the parenting world can be. I began to get very sensitive to the way people reacted to me as a father. I’ve had medical professionals inform me that I am “babysitting,” while on two memorable occasions I accompanied my wife to pre-natal appointments only to be completely ignored.
'Nothing more than sperm donors'
I noticed a local childcare provider gave a lengthy interview to a newspaper in which she repeatedly stated her service was for “mums” and made no mention of fathers whatsoever. I also read a best-selling book from a certain education specialist that treated men as nothing more than sperm donors.
I could take no more of this. I launched Dadbloguk.com in October 2012, just a couple of weeks before my youngest daughter was born. Initially my aim was to write solely about my experiences as a man who is the homemaker and main childcare provider.
I wrote posts about the casual sexism I faced. I also called on men to rally to this cause as, ultimately, only we can change the parenting world. There is no reason for a man to feel out of place in a school playground and there is no reason why men should not work in childcare. I’ve written about both subjects and had great responses when I have tackled them.
Just to expand on that point, the early years childcare workforce in the UK is only 2% male. We hear a lot from Government ministers and other commentators about the glass ceilings women face in the workforce.
Shining a light
I don’t wish to make light of the barriers women face. Unfortunately, however, we don’t hear much from the same commentators about getting men to work in childcare, nursing or primary education. There is a big inconsistency in the way society considers these issues and being a dad blogger gives me an opportunity to shine a light on such things.
Over time my blog has evolved. I’ve learned more about blogging and the skills required to make my small corner of the Internet popular with search engines. These days I blog about all types of things; education, pregnancy, birth, looking after my daughters’ hair, how to ensure the children lead an active lifestyle and so on. Having invested in camera equipment, I also post photographic-focused blog articles and I will write product reviews and run the occasional competition.
One of my great loves is clothes and style. When I launched the blog I purposefully chose not to write about this as I thought it might be considered lightweight. Over time, however, I realised that mum bloggers have no issues whatsoever with writing about feminism one day and floral print dresses the next. I wanted to gate crash the party and so I added a men’s style section to the blog, plus sections dedicated to family days out and family finances.
'Our numbers are growing'
The enlightened product and service providers are keen to work with bloggers such as myself. They recognise that a father’s perspective is very useful when marketing to families. Men are increasingly involved with raising their children so including dads in the marketing mix is the smart thing to do.
With a couple of years experience behind me and a broadened focus, I recently took the blog professional. It is now a source of income to me and one that I run at home from my dining table. It’s not bringing in millions so I shan’t be retiring and buying a condo in Miami any time soon, but it is great for fitting round the kids and makes a profit. Essentially this is a second career for me and I’m making a real go of it.
Quite a few mum bloggers have been running profitable, appealing websites for some time now. I think it’s fantastic, they write great, popular material and fit it round their family commitments.
Rather like nursing, childcare and primary education, the number of dads writing professional parenting blogs is tiny. That said, we do exist and our numbers our growing. Who knows, one of these days my blog might grow to the same size as Mumsnet. Nothing wrong with a bit of ambition.
Are you a new mum or dad who recognises the attitudes John describes? Are you a dad who's got lots to say about their experiences? What do you think needs to change to change for mums and dads to be seen on equal footing by parenting and childcare professionals? Please tell us in a comment or a tweet.
More about the author:
John Adams is a married stay at home dad with two young daughters. He was previously a journalist and PR / communications professional but gave this up in 2010 to be a homemaker and look after the children.
In 2012 he launched a parenting blog focused on his experiences as a “man that holds the babies” called Dadbloguk.com. It was a success and he now writes for a variety of different publications in addition to his own blog.
Cision media monitoring database cites him as one of the UK's five-most influential dad bloggers and he was shortlisted in the Commentary and Campaigns category of the 2014 Brilliance in Blogging awards.
If you want to read some fantastic dad blogs, we thoroughly suggest you take a look at http://lovealldads.co.uk which is essentially a show-case of fatherhood blogs. Run as a collective, there is also a weekly podcast during which fatherhood and parenting issues are discussed.
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