Damien Leeson, 24, is the proud father of a seven-week-old daughter, Harpah. The father from Queensland, Australia had expected that once he and his wife had a child together, they would both do their part in taking care of their child.
Not everyone, however, seems to be in agreement on how large of a role fathers should be playing in their child’s life – particularly when that child is a little girl.
When Leeson and his wife took Harpah out to have fun at a local shopping center, Harpah needed to have her diaper changed.
Leeson didn’t think anything of it. He took it upon himself to bring Harpah to the parents’ bathroom to change her.
But when Leeson was in the middle of changing his daughter, another mother walked in with her son in tow. She took one look at Leeson and her daughter and immediately launched into a harsh criticism of him.
“She looked at me and started laying into me, saying that it was ‘disgusting to see a fully-grown man in a parents’ room with a little girl,” Leeson recalled. “She kept saying I was a ‘dirty old man.’”
Thankfully, Leeson was able to finish helping Harpah into a clean diaper before he escaped the parents’ room and returned to his wife. When he shared his terrible experience with his wife, they were both “blown away.”
“How can someone say that to someone who is just looking after their kid?” he wondered. Although he was a father, Harpah was still his daughter and his responsibility to watch over.
When the Leeson family returned home that day, Damien was still feeling uncertain. He simply couldn’t understand why the woman had launched a tirade against him, so he shared his experience and questions on Facebook, hoping that some of his friends would be able to provide him with some answers or other perspectives.
Leeson’s post ended up being shared many times and collected a lot of comments – many of which were left by other fathers who had had the same experience.
“I had tones of other dads write, ‘that’s normal, get used to it,’” Leeson recalled.
The trend of fathers who want to share a more equal role in parenting and not be praised for simply taking care of their child as any father should has grown in recent years. But it seems that not everyone – particularly women – aren’t on board for some reason.
“I’m quite a hands-on father, whatever I can do to help my wife, I will,” Leeson explained. He suspects that many other fathers out there share his outlook.
“What’s a bloke supposed to do anyway if he’s a single dad?” he continued helplessly. “My point is it’s a parents’ room, not a mother’s room. There are no change tables in the male bathroom.”
We’re proud of Leeson for standing with his beliefs and wanting to help his wife, and we’re also looking forward to the day when these stereotypical assumptions are no longer taken for granted.