Daddy Discrimination

Posted: July 12, 2012 in Fatherhood, Restoration
Tags: ,

A dad walked into Home Depot with his young daughter. Other men looked at him and one even said, “Couldn’t you find a babysitter?”

The dad was puzzled and replied, “Why would I need a babysitter for my own child?”

In our modern-day America, men are seen as secondary parents or ignored all together. This form of “daddy discrimination” can hit home at the worst times. For me, it came when my 7-week old daughter almost died.

One night around supper time, Anna Kate started shaking violently in my arms. She went stiff as a plank one second and then limp as a dish towel the next. Kneeling over the carpet, I laid her down gently and said, “Jesus, you’ve gotta save my baby!”

In all my years in the military with combat rescue classes, the extra training I took for SCUBA diving and the previous first-aid classes I’d passed, I wasn’t sure if my life-saving skills were meant for someone so small.

The questions raced through my head…

AK in the hospital when she was a couple months old.

  • “Where do I push?”
  • “How hard?”
  • “How many breaths per minute?”
  • “How much force in my breath?”

And, I prayed for wisdom.

The next several minutes were a blur as my wife and I phoned 9-1-1, and I started giving her rescue breaths. We decided we didn’t have time and sped to the hospital, beating the ambulance crew.

During the short drive, she regained consciousness, her color returned and her respiratory rate leveled out.

Since we’d never been to this smaller hospital, we parked on the wrong side. In the chaos, I didn’t put on any shoes, so when we ran through the door, a nurse met us and showed us the way through the winding corridors. She yelled at me for not running faster. I yelled back, “I’m a 200-pound man; I’m not going to slip and fall on her and hurt her.”

When we got to the ER, the nurses and doctors swarmed her, trying to figure out what was wrong. They had a hard time getting an IV into her tiny veins, and one male nurse speculated about worse-case scenarios to me and my wife. I told him to go away because he didn’t know what he was talking about.

The first thing the medical staff did was give her a chest and head X-ray. Then, more tests were ordered and she was poked and prodded worse than a dead snake by two 8-year-old boys.

Once she was stabilized, they allowed my wife and I to go into her little curtained-off area and hold her. But, they wouldn’t let us close the curtains.

The emotions hit me like a flood. I lost it, weeping like a baby because I had almost lost my baby.

Over the week at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, my wife and I saw how weird and curt the hospital staff was toward me. I confronted one nurse about it, and she said that most of the babies brought in with seizures had been shaken — you know, “Don’t shake the baby” — and that most “shaken babies” were injured by their dads or the mother’s boyfriend.

This really got into my “craw.” But the more I thought about it, the more things began to make sense. They thought I was the reason for her health situation. So many babies before me had been abused by so many dads before me that it became their “go-to” reaction. Their first thought was that I had hurt my own child, and the manner they went about testing her seemed to be more inline with proving guilt over providing care.

(Long story short — turns out our daughter had been prescribed a dangerous dosage of reflux medicine, and she’s never seized again since.)

It’s been years and it’s still vivid.

Since then, I’ve been discriminated against and pre-judged many times simply because I’m not a mom.

  • At the daycare, giving feeding tips or care instructions to the staff there
  • At the grocery store, correcting behavior
  • In homes of relatives with different parenting perspectives, etc.
Discrimination hurts. It’s time for equality, dads!
We are parents too, not just bread-winners, not just DNA donors, not just jungle gyms. While our gender’s initial contribution to creating life is minimal, our impact on our children is immense!

We are men, gifted from the Divine with one of life’s biggest blessings. God Himself entrusts us with kids and appoints us as leaders. It’s time we show the world they should too.

  1. Bravo! If more men were encouraged to be so, perhaps there would not be a shortage of good, Christian mates for those of us who desire “real” husbands and fathers!

  2. Hop Dad says:

    I think what gets me the most is when I’m out with my baby at a social gathering and a woman (friend or stranger) will come up to me and say “Oh, let me take her…”. It’s as if they assume I’m incompetent and they think they’re doing me a favor by taking my child out of my arms. Thanks, but I got this.

    • jonwilke says:

      EXACTLY! With my 3-year-old, I’m often the one who calm her down/redirected. The newborn is more a momma’s girl right now. (That’ll change)

      Thanks for stopping by Hop Dad. You’re blog is cool too.

  3. jbussell says:

    Great post today, Jon,

    I have gotten this on more than one occasion from friends when I either bring Cooper with me or tell them I can’t do something because I will be with Cooper at the time. They often say “Are you on babysitting duty?” And my reply is always, “No, I’m parenting.”

    • jonwilke says:

      Right on! Great comeback. People would NEVER say that to a woman with her children.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the kind compliment too.

  4. Mark McIntosh says:


    I remember this. I hadn’t, however, heard about the hospital’s treatment of you. I haven’t ever told you myself how much I admired how you were able to handle the situation. I couldn’t imagine what that must have been like. And I am so happy that my dear friend found such a great man, husband, and father.

  5. RickEngland says:

    Yeah, I remember that Jon…I’ve experienced similar things myself…I remember 39 years ago having to drive 4 towns away to find a hospital willing to allow the father in the delivery room! And going thru the court system after my wife left me with 3 kids and fighting for custody (when EVERYONE knew only moms could raise kids===) Rick

    • jonwilke says:

      WOW, Rick…you are a great dad! Can’t imagine how horrible that felt to not be there at birth AND facing the systemic judicial daddy discrimination still prevalent today.

  6. js says:

    Thanks for sharing this with me Jon! Since I’ve met you I’ve thought you’re an awesome guy, and this just proves it again! AK and Bennett are blessed to have you for a daddy!

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