So you do research with fathers? A couple of men turn their heads sharply in my direction. The women watch through the corner of their eyes – yes, we know you’re listening. But one or two men step closer creating a safer space to talk about ‘gender-wars’. They’re curious…..and so am I. What’s she going to say? What are they going to say?
We talk about all sorts of things: childcare, car sickness, work hours, money, pressure, boredom, relationships, leisure, love and film lists, male instincts - and guilt. Yes, guilt – always guilt. Because at the end of the day, the conversation is almost always about reassurance and affirmation: I think I’m a good dad….but do you, objective-researcher-who-is-a-mother, think I am?
Are you a good dad? Heck, I don’t know. Am I a good mum? There are things you could do differently and I will draw on my research findings to make suggestions. But, I’m sure there are things that your children, partner and friends would like you to do differently. Ask them, they’ll have a much better answer than I do. I wonder if they ever do….
Funny thing is, the mums who were eyeing the conversation never ask what we spoke about.