Rad Dads encourages fathers to stand their ground against 'shaming'

Father playing with baby boy
Father playing with baby boy. Photo credit: Getty

Fathers should "embrace the awkwardness" and continue to play a bigger part in their children's lives, despite incidents of 'dad-shaming'.

Rad Dads founder Will Flemming told RadioLive's Mark Sainsbury that men are taking more and more responsibility for their kids' upbringing, and shouldn't be discouraged by out-dated attitudes about parenting.

His comments came in the wake of an incident on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, where a father was shamed into leaving the parents room at a shopping mall, as he attempted to change his son's nappy.

The man was confronted by a mother, who accused him of being a "sicko" and threatened to call security, because he was staring at her naked children.

A witness intervened, offering to back the embarrassed father, who started to flee without completing his already difficult task.  

"I was BEYOND disgusted," Mikaa Ives posted on Facebook. "I was absolutely shocked that the poor bloke felt he had no choice, but to leave like she said.

"It's a parents' room, not a f*****g mothers' room."

Mr Flemming told Sainsbury these kinds of concerns were the reason Rad Dads was formed,  to discuss the issues facing fathers in a changing society.

"If you take a step back a second and look at it, these are the first few generations of fathers who have been asked to do this," he said. "I think, a generation from now, when everyone is used to mum and dad having this involvement, we won't see this.

"I would say dads already feel awkward about going into parenting rooms, but they have to keep doing it until it's normal - until it's 50-50 - because it's what society is asking from us."

Mikaa Ives
Mikaa Ives' Facebook account of 'dad-shaming' incident. Photo credit: Mikaa Ives/Facebook

While this incident happened across the Tasman, it has struck a chord on this side of the ditch, with many Kiwi parents responding on social media.

"My partner had our young son at the shopping mall in Palmy," posted Melanie Prestidge on Facebook. "He went to change him in the parents room, but walked out after getting dirty looks from other mothers in there.

"It's disgusting that any father should feel like this - if it's just for MOTHERS, then change the name on the door."

Most of those responding supported the father's presence in the changing room and Mr Fleming had some advice for those who persevered, despite the stern looks.

"I'd say to those dads, look for that mum in the room who will back you up, when someone else calls you a weirdo for being in there.

"When you think about it, it's not weird."