Work Arounds When Lead Dads Get Left Out

Monday PSA, from a near miss.

Working Moms – we need your help. Please tell the mothers who email birthday party invites only to you to stop. Ask them to include your child’s father or your partner. And for the love of 2023, whether you or your spouse sends out your family’s invites, please make sure both parents are included for kid birthday parties.

Working Dads – particularly those of you who aren’t yet Lead Dads – be cool with getting the invites. You should be comfortable being part of the child-scheduling conversation.

Our youngest daughter, for whom kindergarten birthday parties are the height of her social life, nearly missed a classmate’s party on Saturday. I only found out there was one after I emailed another parent about having a playdate that afternoon. She said sure – what about after so-and-so’s birthday party?

My wife and I know this scenario well. We both work, but I’m the one whose strength is organizing the family activities. Also, my inbox is a river; hers is whitewater rapids in spring.

In this case, it was slightly more frustrating to be left off the invite: I’m also the kindergarten room parent so all the moms and dads receive regular emails from me. And I’ve emailed with this child’s mother several times this year!

We have an email ready for this scenario. Call the tone humorous indignation. “Surely this was an oversight in the hustle and bustle of parenting…”

Why don’t fathers receive birthday emails? I’ve been told part of it is a reflex – mom to mom. Plus, most local networks are aimed at moms, not parents, let alone dads. (Thank you Facebook!)

Worse is this line: “my husband doesn’t want to receive these emails”. Blows. My. Mind. (At school, we had to give parents a chance to opt out of email updates.)

We working dads get tons of superfluous emails – anyone else want to debate the mowing lines of this week’s PGA Tour host site, Torrey Pines??? Ones about our children and what they’re doing – we should want these.

At The Company of Dads, we’re trying to normalize the role of Lead Dad and change the conversation around who is the go-to parent. It’s the only way to have a more equitable division of the #caregiving for working parents and to make the second shift less of a burden.

My friend Eve Rodsky has asked men if they know the name of their child’s dentist. (Dr. Anna, even though her office staff is a habitual offender when it comes to calling my wife when I made the appointment!)

I would add this question: to anyone who is sending out birthday invitations, do you know the names of both parents of the child you’re inviting? Good to know now – essential to know when they’re teenagers.

And yes, even if the parents are divorced, include them both. Eighteen percent of fathers in America are divorced, separated or widowed – that’s about 14 million men. When you send that invite how do you know whose weekend it is? The kid just wants to go to the party!