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Are Dads Being Discriminated Against?

We'd like to hear your opinion on this week's Moms Talk issue. Feel free to tell us what you think in the comments section of this site.

Our Moms Talk question this week actually involves dads. Here is the issue posed by Rose Sevilla:

My friend’s husband recently voiced his anger about the lack of changing tables in men’s rooms, which led us to a discussion about ways in which male parents are discriminated against in our society. For example, it seems appropriate for a mother to take her child (son or daughter) into a public restroom, but what happens when a father takes his daughter into the ladies' room? Or the men’s room?  In an age when both parents are taking active roles in their child’s upbringing, how can we ensure that dads don’t get left out of the deal?

Our Moms Council members are Linda Arbiter, Michele Dahl, Randi Greene and Rose Sevilla. All of these women are mothers of varying degrees of experience.

We invite anyone to answer today's question posed by Rose: Are men being discriminated against?

Elysse B May 12, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Yes! Why do I think dad's are discriminated against? My uncle is a single dad and I have heard a lifetime of stories, of him being discriminated against, from the battles in the courtroom, to get full custody, to him continuing the struggles of being a dad raising a child alone because of, for example, yours, there being no bathroom changing tables in mens' rooms. For him, to have full custody, is rare, and was a harsh, long, exhasting battle because woman/en are seen as more able to raise children in all aspects.
Norma May 13, 2011 at 01:37 AM
Yes, I think men are being discriminated against. I don't think that it is fair that they are not given the same opportunities as women to be good providers to their children. Unfortunately, I think that a huge amount of responsibility is placed on women to be the primary caregivers, and men are often overlooked and not seen as good providers just because they are men. I think our society sees parenthood as a woman's responsibility and fail to recognize the importance of men in that equation. I think that change needs to happen on a broader level in terms of what we value as a society, but we can at least start with small changes like requesting to have changing tables in men's bathrooms. Something that seems so small, but that can make an enormous impact and maybe even begin to change people's thinking.
Pat H. May 13, 2011 at 03:56 AM
I'm not sure if in the case of bathrooms that they are being actively discriminated against. Sometimes it's a matter of numbers. If enough fathers aren't taking their kids to the bathroom, or are primary caregives (even for just hours a day), then the need hasn't driven places to accommodate them. As more men take care of their kids, it becomes an issue that can't be ignored. Malls don't want to be sued and if men are having to go into women's bathrooms and women complain, that's potential legal liability they don't want. If men complain that there are little girls in the men's bathroom, that's also a problem. I'm seeing more and more 'family bathrooms' in malls, but not so much in restaurants. But in terms of custody arrangements, men get HUGELY discriminated against. Unless a woman has done something egregious, men automatically get shafted. I've seen so many cases where perfectly great fathers get limited visitation, even if the woman was at fault for the divorce or mildly unstable. Custody doesn't really appear to be judged on a case by case basis and is more like the woman is assumed superior unless proven otherwise.
Rose Sevilla May 13, 2011 at 06:19 AM
These are all fantastic points! Elysse and Pat bring up a very serious issue of sex discrimination in custody battles, and I fully agree with Norma that we will need to take baby steps to ensure full-inclusion of men in the parenting process. I'd love to hear other ways in which readers feel we can be catalysts for this change!
JSmith May 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM
I'm a single father. I've raised my kids alone for the past seven years, since they were 7 and 5. I get up at 6 am and pick up the last one at 6 pm. You people have too much free time on your hands. Why don't you put your energies towards something a little more socially productive than forcing businesses to install changing tables at all? There were no changing tables 20 years ago and somehow we all survived.
Rebekah May 14, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I actually completely agree with J.Smith. There aren't going to be changing tables everywhere you go- just bring a mat in your diaper bag and change your kid in a stall. I've been to a few restaurants, establishments that don't even have them in the women's room. It doesn't need to be a bigger issue than it is.
Michele Dahl May 16, 2011 at 09:18 PM
While somewhat harsh in delivery, J.Smith does have a point. Although, my husband and I both greatly appreciate the family bathrooms. With a 3 year old girl in pull-ups and a 1 year old boy in diapers, it is so much easier for either my husband or myself to just haul everyone into one bathroom and get it all done at the same time. And if that is not an option, we have both mastered the art of the car-change rather well. I think if a man has a baby that he needs to change and no accomodating quarters, any woman would (or should) allow him to use the changing table in the women's bathroom.
Rose Sevilla May 17, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Interesting reactions from JSmith and Rebekah. The topic was posed not to oversimplify inclusion of men in the parenting process by suggesting that a changing table in a restroom is a fix-all, but rather to show one (small) way in which male parents are treated differently from female ones. As for being "socially productive", I think that highlighting issues in this weekly column that are brought up by fellow parents is something that allows for discussion, which is a healthy thing in our society. I spend quite a bit of my time prostelytizing about the benefits of EC (Elimination Communication), and have spent more time than the average parent of an infant frequenting public restrooms. EC is not only socially productive, but environmentally as well. It is important that both moms and dads who practice EC be respected in taking their children to the toilet. JSmith, I suppose I do have too much time on my hands. There's not much else I can do while tandem nursing newborn twins.
scott August 31, 2011 at 09:38 AM
hi, i do believe dads are discriminated against...single dads that is. I am actually impressed with the amount of dressing tables in men's rooms.20 yrs ago there ere none and I wondered why then. I know the courts do because I have seen it 1st hand .My ex-wife got away easy with child support , courts and judges are weak. The worst offenders sadly are the Evangelical church.I attended one in NJ for 7 yrs and sadly it was horrible the way the men treated me.The new younger pastor was very discriminatory. I believe it was because he and the other men were threatened by me as a single man. The fundamental Baptist or Christian view of wifey submission seems to go along well until a single guy with 2 little children walks in than thay get nasty. They tried to jeopardize jobs, my home, they stalked me, entered my home when I was out and my kids were alone...borderline criminal if you ask me. Two yrs before this young guy got there a much older man pastored and I never felt that so you see I can compare it to something else.
Shirley February 05, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Changing tables are not the issues, how about the court systems not protecting the children against the mothers when the dad has custody of them. I have seen 2 cases now where the dads have taken the children to raise them and the mothers being mad or upset cause of divorce has turned it around to a full blown fight w the kids in the middle and no one will stop that, even spending thousands of dollars in the courts and w a parenting councilor in the middle. And time after time the women has all the emotions and being mean to the children and nobody will listen chase she is mom and our society says moms are great and nobody will listen to dad cause again society says dads are bad.This needs to change, I know 2 children who could benefit from the change. Is there more out there who women play the system, I bet there is.
Bob February 25, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I am a single father. I'm constantly under fire the non-custodial mother picks up the phone and says anything about me. I'm not this I'm not that the child doesn't live with him..........etc anything the authorities are at my door doing a major shake down. She was once the custodial parent until she felt she didn't want to be anymore. she would do things like bring the child for the wkend and show up 3wks later. I would complain to the Child services and they would treat it like it was funny . Like well it's your kid if you don't want him take him to the police station. They actually said this. No accountability for the mom at all. It's ridiculous how they treat fathers it will not stop until a multi million dollar suit it won against the system.
Garyth Evans September 21, 2012 at 05:31 AM
To jsmith I am appalled at your ignorance. I am constantly trying to find a place to change my son due to lack of tables. And since All men are sloppy in the washrooms and most don't wash their hands do you honestly think I want to change my son on the floor. You are sadly mistaken. It is a proven fact and I can back it up with 35 years in hospitality industry that men practice very very poor hygiene. It should be law that stalls in both rooms have tables.
Brandon John December 14, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Jbrandonsd I'm a single father, and yes California has a total bias against fathers. I have heard things such as, because she is the mother as an excuse to allow my ex to lie in court, to mentally abuse our children, the threaten them, make false allegations against me, to submit falsified documents to court, my ex has even impersonated a CPS supervisor, and the courts have not once held her in contempt or held her responsible for any of her wrong doings. I have spent over 55k in lawyers fee's, been to court 64 times in the past 7 and a half years. We have had several different lawyers over the years that have been assigned by the courts for our daughters, and all of them heavily favor the mother. One lawyer never even interviewed the children and my oldest daughter was so upset that she actually demanded to speak with the judge about her own concerns. Both children spoke to the judge alone in private, I later found out that the children had expressed major concerns of the mother drinking and driving and also doing drugs in the present of the girls and while driving the girls, and the court barely warned the mother. I had full custody until a few months ago when my oldest decided to hide behind her mother after getting caught doing something wrong, and the courts are allowing her to hid behind the mother to avoid being grounded. Now that my ex has my daughters, the courts are heavily favoring her more so then even and show no concern for the real safety of my daughters.
Brandon John December 14, 2012 at 09:10 PM
As a father who has been discriminated against in the California family courts, being a single dad, I understand the exhausting, expensive uphill battles of being a single father that actually wants to raise his children. Here is something I thought funny, during one of my court hearings, a CPS personal actually provided a study done by CPS regarding single parents and how their children turn out, and it shows that in 90% of all cases where the father raises the children as a single father that the children do much better in school, have more friends, go farther in education beyond high school, have better jobs, longer lasting/happier relationships then if they are raised by a single mother, and also the same article showed that most of our federal prisons are filled with those raised by single mothers, and that single mothers seem to raise children that grow up with lower self esteem, less education, higher chances of criminal behavior leading to imprisonment, more disruptive and violent behavior with society, relationships and family. Shortly after reading these findings to the courts, the CPS agent then said, the mother should have more time with the children because she is their mom. So, even with there own proof, the courts, cps and all government agencies will always discriminate against men. The only way to fix this is to fire every judge and only allow a judge to be commissioned if they pass a panel consisting of equal representatives of fathers and mothers.
Brandon John December 14, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Hey Bob, I would jump on that lawsuit against the system. My ex has been out of hand since I divorced her, she has sent CPS and police to my home several times, she called the police to my house claiming i was killing them all because I would not wake up my daughters at midnight to talk to her on the phone, and this was a school night, so at 1am, I had police nearly breaking every window, slamming in my door and causing me to be evicted from the property for ongoing police activity, and yet the courts, police, the system say she has done nothing wrong, meanwhile, the fact is if I did any one of the things she has done they would of locked me up and thrown away the key, their is no equality for single fathers at all in America. A sad fact, if you look at the three high profile cases where the mothers tried to take the lives of their children, in all three cases the fathers where trying to obtain full custody, the mothers where constantly disobeying direct orders from the judges and the system favored the mothers, the system has never shown true care for the safety and well being of any child, they only care to give the children to moms, regardless of what harm may come of it. I AM WITH YOU COMPLETELY, LETS START A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST FAMILY COURT, CPS AND ALL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT SHOW ANY DISCRIMINATION TOWARDS FATHERS.
scott December 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM
here is an article,I couldn't get the link " Silent Discrimination; Single Father Families".Read the article we don't have a support system in court or in our churches. i do believe dads are discriminated against...single dads that is. I am actually impressed with the amount of dressing tables in men's rooms.20 yrs ago there ere none and I wondered why then. I know the courts do because I have seen it 1st hand .My ex-wife got away easy with child support , courts and judges are weak. The worst offenders sadly are the Evangelical church.I attended one in NJ for 7 yrs and sadly it was horrible the way the men treated me.The new younger pastor was very discriminatory. I believe it was because he and the other men were threatened by me as a single man. The fundamental Baptist or Christian view of wifey submission seems to go along well until a single guy with 2 little children walks in than thay get nasty. They tried to jeopardize jobs, my home, they stalked me, entered my home when I was out and my kids were alone...borderline criminal if you ask me. Two yrs before this young guy got there a much older man pastored and I never felt that so you see I can compare it to something elses is true I also attended a church in nj. they get jealous and threatened. they better change because single father homes are up 62% in the last 10 yrs. thanks all, scott schmidl
scott December 14, 2012 at 11:12 PM
here is an article,I couldn't get the link " Silent Discrimination; Single Father Families".Read the article we don't have a support system in court or in our churches. i do believe dads are discriminated against, single dads that is. the courts discriminate too, my ex-wife got away easy with child support. courts and judges are weak and are afraid to rule as strongly in a dad's favor like they would a woman. they think we aren't in the same boat as mom's with custody. They ask why don't you work? answer..." no child care" same struggles and bosses are worse. they see a man but don't see the children. The worst offenders is the Evangelical church. I attended one in NJ for 7 yrs and sadly it was horrible the way the men treated me.The new younger pastor was very discriminatory. I believe it was because he and the other men were threatened by me as a single man. The fundamental Baptist or Christian view of wifey submission seems to go along well until a single guy with 2 little children walks in than they get nasty. They tried to jeopardize jobs, my home, they stalked me, entered my home when I was out and my kids were alone...borderline criminal. before this young pastor got there a much older man pastored and I never felt this way with him so you see I can compare it to something else. they get jealous and threatened. they better change because single father homes are up 62% in the last 10 yrs. thanks all, scott schmidl

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