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Men and Child Care

school-kids-schoolhouse-thumbI have yet another question to pose to all of you.

How many of you would never consider a male child care provider, and why?

I ask because my son helps me a great deal with the kids I watch, and has for the last seven years.  When I had my in home child care, I had him start working with me to get him out of his room and force him into some uncomfortable situations.  His OCD had him trapped in a corner, so to speak, and he was terrified to do anything.  I could see he was spiraling downhill steadily and the depression and anxiety was going to do him in.  He has never worked with children unsupervised, and I always do the diapering, potty learning, and so forth.  Never in my wildest dreams did I even think it might bother some parents.

When advertising for more business, I was turned down by several parents because they didn’t want a man watching their children.   When interviewing, some acted very surprised and cautious when I mentioned that my son helped supervise the kids while I fixed meals and held preschool with the older children.  Just recently, I was offered a new nanny position, but only if I did not allow my son to help.  They flat-out stated that they did not trust men around their kids.

I understand they do not really know us.  I understand them being nervous to hand over the care of their children to strangers.  What I don’t understand is why he is convicted of being a weirdo even before they know him ONLY because he’s a man.  How can they know I am not the strange one?  Just because I’m a woman is no guarantee of good care.  I read stories of care providers that just curl my hair, and every one of them have been female!

I think men can make wonderful additions to early childhood settings.  There is nothing at all wrong with it!  Over the last seven years, my son has made a lot of progress and gained a ton of self-esteem by having the responsibility.  And best of all, the kids adore him!  In some cases, the kids would run past me to greet him first in the mornings.  What young boy does not love having someone to go out and play ball with?  He does soccer, basketball and football with them.  He sets up the most fantastic obstacle  courses for the kids and they love that!  He surprises me with the ideas he comes up with for the kids to do.  I have come to rely upon him to be our PE Instructor!

If you feel comfortable responding, I am just curious to how many of you would have strong reservations about a male working in the facility your child attends.

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9 thoughts on “Men and Child Care

  1. I have had experience in this area on 2 fronts. First as a child (a neighbor and a Sunday school teacher) and then learning of the experiences of vulnerable adults with disabilities whom I’ve served in different capacities in the past 2 decades..

    Unfortunately, physical abuse can also be inflicted by women. My kindergarten teacher was dying of a brain tumor. She had to find some outlet for her anger and that outlet was me. In Florida, there are rigorous background checks that have to be made, including fingerprinting and and FBI search for any priors. Yet there are still occasions when horrific things happen just because people think they can do it without getting caught.

    Any parent who isn’t concerned about the background of people who are watching their children are naive at best and negligent at worst. I can tell you from experience that you can’t tell the good guy from the bad just by looking at a person–Ted Bundy is an excellent example.

    I like the fact there are good child care workers who are male. You know your son, but if I didn’t know you and brought my children into your day care I would sit down with you and ask a whole bunch of questions before my children would be left alone with anyone I didn’t know–man or woman.

  2. I’ve experienced this sort of prejudice and never understood it. The presumption that males are not ‘qualified’ to care for young children (or that they are a ‘threat’ to them) is ludicrous – don’t fathers care for their children? What about uncles, grandfathers, older siblings, family friends, etc.? The ‘fear’ of strangers should apply equally to men and women – but if you vet your prospective care-givers properly, there shouldn’t be any issue on either side. My boys had both teenage boys and girls take care of them at various times when they were young (kids from the neighbourhood who I knew through their parents, etc.); they preferred the ‘guys’ because they’d play videogames with them or toss a ball around (the girls mainly wanted to watch TV or yak on the phone). And years later, both my boys looked after neighbours’ children (both girls and boys). Still, I knew Moms who’d insist they would NEVER hire a ‘boy’ to look after their kids. And when I was chair of my boys’ school parent council there was an ‘uproar’ over moving a (well-liked) male (young, perhaps mid-30s) Grade 6 teacher to a Grade 1/2 split class. Naively I thought it was because he was so popular with the pre-teen Grade 6s and their parents that they didn’t want to lose him. Turned out I was wrong. It seemed parents ‘trusted’ him with 11 and 12 year olds, but not with 6 and 7 years olds. I was appalled (he ended up staying with the Grade 6s). I don’t understand this prejudice at all but it seems to be fairly pervasive. So sad!

  3. I would like to think that the concern of some is not simply worry that men might turn out to be unsavoury characters, but an outcome of the deep-seated gender stereotypes that plague a lot of professions, including for men. There may be a common reluctance for men to enter some of the caring professions like nursing and childcare because of prejudice and so it is considered an unusual choice for those who do. In my opinion, it is ridiculous. There is no reason why men can’t look after children as well or better than women (and on a separate and unpleasant note, there are plenty of unsavoury women too!). My child’s nursery had a couple of men working in it. It didn’t bother me in the slightest (though it was noticeable in the female-dominated environment), and also, it wasn’t something that was deemed significant enough to bring to my attention. It makes me feel sorry for your son and for other men like him. It must be horrible to have an opportunity to do something you enjoy and are good at, but be held back because people are concerned that your very choice is strange.

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