Parent Perspectives on Men in Early Education
May 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm #24199
One thing I have struggled with more than any other in my 10+ years of working with young children is parents and even co-workers who are uncomfortable with men working in early education. As a Special Needs Teacher I was not allowed to change diapers unless I had someone in the bathroom with me and I had several parents request transfers to other schools for their children. When I joined Bright Horizons a family disenrolled and many others requested other classrooms. By the end of my first year I was one of the most requested teachers in the center by families moving within the center and the least requested by incoming families. And, 5 years later, as an administrator I sometimes have touring parents ask me pointedly if I spend much time in the rooms and if I ever change diapers. So I guess my question is two-fold:
Is there really that strong of a general mistrust of men in our society, that families are uncomfortable with the idea that a male teacher, with many years of service in the field, might change their child’s diaper?
What, if anything, do you think I could do or say to help new families feel more comfortable with the idea of leaving their children in my care?May 27, 2011 at 8:14 am #24201
This post makes me sad, though I know it is a real reality in our society. I think we just have to be patient…times are changing as are our opinions about men in child care (though not as fast as I’d hope!). I must say, I would have no problem with my kids having a male child care teacher, though I’ve witnessed others question it. I think having children exposed to diversity when it comes to teachers (male/female, older/younger, different ethnicities, etc.) is such a GOOD thing! It prepares them better for what real life is like – you come into contact with all types in every situation in life! I’m glad you posed this topic and am interested in others’ thoughts.June 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm #24202
I’m really glad that you work at the center and you are welcome to change my daughter’s diaper any day of the week.
I wouldn’t take offense about parents being sensitive about the diapering issue, though. There have been many problems with male caretakers over the years (including a terrible incident at my school district located in a small town in Montana) as well as the small percentage of our male population that commits terrible misdeeds. It’s really a good thing to have someone with you for your own protection as well.
The only thought I have as a dad is the young infants seem to really go for the ladies rather than the men. I stop by to spend time with my daughter, and while I know that she enjoys me being there, she is most excited to see the women teachers do things with the kids, like balance books on their nose and made overexaggarated expressions. It’s not quite my nature to do just that.
I really enjoy seeing you at Bright Horizons and am glad that you are part of our team.June 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm #24203
Here is an interesting article about this http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703779704576073752925629440.html?
In my own experience I have encountered more problems with women committing heinous acts against children than men (largely due to the disproportionate number of them in the field I am sure). When I was with the public schools I reported 4 cases of possible molestation by daycare workers, all were female, 2 were convicted, and none of them made the local newspapers or television news…. Thank you for your support.June 8, 2011 at 10:00 am #24204
There was a man who was a part-time helper in the infant room where I enrolled my daughter at 6 weeks old. I have to admit the thought of ‘will this be OK’ crossed my mind. However, after I met, talked with and saw him interacting with the kids, I was comfortable with him. He was really good with the children. Once of the things that was important to me, however (as is with the women who work with small children) is to know that they themselves have children….thus they know the patience needed in dealing with small children.
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