Mum's shouldn't be the only word, says Durban dad
Blogger calls on shopping centres to rethink moms-and-tots parking bay signs
A Durban father wants South African shopping centre parking lots to #IncludeDads.
While Don Dinnematin has never been prohibited from using parking bays allocated to “moms and tots”, the blogger and father of one is challenging malls to change signs to include fathers.
“The idea of ‘moms and tots’ parking signs is old. Today’s dads are extremely hands-on and should not be forgotten about or excluded. I am not asking for the malls to change their signage immediately; all we are asking is that they commit to changing the signs when the times arises.”He suggests that malls change the signs to say “parent and child parking”.
“We are all equal parts in this parenting journey, and this needs to be represented, especially in the media. When it comes to parenting, almost everything is aimed at moms and, while there is nothing wrong with this, dads also want to feel acknowledged,” he explained.
Using the hashtag #IncludeDads, Dinnematin has garnered support from fathers, mothers, grandparents and even malls, which have jumped on board with the campaign.Musgrave Shopping Centre in Durban has signs that simply show a baby in a pram and state that the bays are allocated to parents with toddlers under the age of two.
Mall of Africa general manager Johann Fourie said that, while the signs currently only include a mother and child, fathers were allowed to use the parking bays.
“We are working on inclusivity,” he said.
Mom blogger Tracy Dawson said there was no standard set of rules in South Africa that applied to the bays and the decision lay with each mall.“My understanding is that it’s there for the convenience, as it can be quite a schlep having to walking far with a pram and possibly busy or upset baby and toddler and packets and possibly other children. And then the hassle of having to take out a pram in tightly squeezed parking can also be daunting,” she said.
Dawson said that if society wanted fathers to be more involved in their children's lives, the mindset had to change.
“Dads are constantly being targeted for not playing their part in the parenting role, yet everything we see around us, like for example the toilets at malls are for moms and kids only. The mindset is changed by changing the things we see around us.”Sonke Gender Justice's MenCare SA manager Andre Lewaks said the signs portray the myth that childcare is the main role of women and downplays the importance of men as caregivers.“I also had bad experiences where I visited shopping malls with my children and had to take my children into the disability restrooms because the signage was very unfriendly towards me as a father.
“The signage is therefore discouraging fathers to play their role in society from a caregiving perspective.”
Lewaks said the #IncludeDads initiative would strengthen the MenCare campaign which “seeks promote men's role as equitable , non-violent fathers and caregivers”.
“Campaigns such as this assist to identify very important barriers to father involvement, and it also helps us to change the environment in order to encourage fathers to become more involved caregivers and supportive partners,” he said.