Received Sunday, June 6, 2010
For the past three years I have worked at a church on Sundays as a childcare worker, working in either the 3-5 year old room, or the infant-toddler room. As a male in the infant-toddler room it seems as if I am held to a higher standard by the parents. Most of the parents are fine with me being in there, but there are some parents who are unsure about it. I remember this one time when this girl, who was potty training, needed to go to the bathroom. As I was taking her to the bathroom, which is in the same room as we were in, a parent volunteer started to offer to take her to the bathroom, however as she saw I was going to leave the door open, she stopped in her tracks. Chances are this wouldn’t have happened if I was female. This has also happened when a girl needed a diaper change, but I simply told the person I can do it. Another time a dad was dropping off his toddler daughter. Before he left, he checked her pull-up and decided to change her. None of the parents I have seen there have done that before. I might just be cynical, but it felt like to me he was thinking let me change her now, so he wouldn’t have to worry about a strange male changing his daughter later, which is fine. I have become use to parents thinking I am not capable of working with younger kids because I am male. With some parents, you can tell on their faces when they drop their kids off, they aren’t too sure if they should leave them or not, as there is a male worker in the room. What helps, is there are always two workers in the room.
As a male, I have to be extra careful in everything I do, as some parents think you are either inept when caring for younger kids, or a pervert because you are a male who is working with younger kids. Thankfully, most parents are fine with me being there, and know I do a good job. What I find interesting is parents think just because you have male parts you aren’t good with kids, while those with female parts are naturals with kids. There is one co-worker, who is female, who really isn’t that great with kids, and never bothers to change their diapers, even when they are full. Yet parents assume she is good with kids as they always hand off their crying kid to her, even when we are both standing right there. I guess I am saying all of this to say, you have to look at people as a whole, and not simply their gender. Just because a person has male parts doesn’t mean they are bad with kids, and just because a person has female parts doesn’t mean they are a natural with kids. As the old saying goes, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.