In the Clitheroe Advertiser

The story about my lovely book is in the Clitheroe Advertiser here.

And below:

Whalley dad writes about life in a mums’ world

 

Stay-at-home dad Garry Cook found it “an excruciating experience” being the only man in the mum-dominated world of children’s playgroups.

Now Garry (39), from Whalley, has written a book about his travels – and travails – across Lancashire visiting playgroups with his one-year-old daughter Betsy.

His humorous book “Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here” documents his experiences of mad mothers, over-enthusiastic class leaders and screaming children.

Garry also explores his own prejudices concerning the role of males and females in society, and questions whether playgroups, pre-school and child care benefit children.

He claims he discovered some surprising evidence these groups can have a negative effect on child development.

He said: “The common perception is that a playgroup will benefit your child, help them develop social skills and learn to mix with other children.

“But the reality could not be more different. Some research labels children’s groups, and specifically pre-school, as harmful to a child’s development, stating they learn bad habits and develop unattractive social skills.”

Garry’s previous documentary research and photography has explored social behaviour close up. His projects have included “Flashes to Ashes” examining smoking in public, “Brilliant Blackpool” celebrating life in Britain’s brashest seaside town, and “Outsiders” with portrait photos and interviews with unique, unusual and misunderstood people.

The main focus of his latest book is being a male in female-dominated environment.

Garry said: “I’m a fairly laid-back person, comfortable in most social situations but right from the start I found being the only dad at playgroups difficult.

“Much of the academic research into playgroups highlight how beneficial they are to mothers, giving them a support network and an opportunity to discuss parenting issues.

“But for a man in these groups such support networks do not exist. It is a lonely experience.”

He added: “There were some mothers happy to chat – and I was so grateful to them – but there was never any prospect of developing close friendships. Can you imagine their husband’s face if he came home early from work to see me sitting at the kitchen table drinking a glass of wine?

“The reality of playgroups is they are for mums. Talking about nappies, birthday party arrangements or the new hairdressers in Clitheroe is not really a male thing.

“Society has been able to bring down social barriers and encourage equality in many areas of life but, for men, I feel that being a stay at home dad will be a lonely experience, particularly in playgroups, for decades to come.

“My advice for any stay-at-home dad is to not be pressured into doing what other people think is good for your child. If you’re taking them to parks, going on walks or bike rides with them, or sitting reading and drawing, and your child is enjoying themselves, that is all they need.

“I don’t think children need to be at a playgroup mixing with other children when they are two and three. The reality is they play on their own – or with you – anyway.

“At such a young age, children aren’t really too concerned with playing with others. They have plenty of time to develop those social skills at school. In fact, they are already developing their social skills with you.”

Garry’s new book is available on Kindle now, and a paper version will be published soon. Website: www.gazcook.com

For the latest updates visit: www.arenotwelcomehere.wordpress.com

Garry collaborated with Nokia on the book and shot all images on his Nokia Lumia 1020 camera phone.

Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here – Lancashire Telegraph

Those lovely people at the Lancashire Telegraph, led by Jon Robinson, have very kindly done a story on Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here.

And here it is published (April 16, 2014):

A RIBBLE Valley stay-at-home dad has penned a new novel about his ‘excruciatingly painful’ experiences at play groups with his daughter.

Garry Cook, 39, started researching the topic last October and took his one-year-old Betsy to play groups across East Lancashire.

Garry, of Mitton Road, Whalley, completed his third book in January and it will be released in print soon after being released on Kindle last week.

‘Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here’ documents his experiences as the only man at the playgroups and his interactions with other parents.

In the book, which is billed as a ‘biting satire’, Garry recounts his experiences with ‘mad mothers’ ‘over-enthus-iastic class leaders’ and ‘screaming children’.

He also questions the need for play groups and whether they actually harm a child’s develop-ment.

Garry, who has worked as a freelance journalist and documentary photograph-er, said: “The main focus of the book is being a male in a female-dominated envir-onment.

“I’m a fairly laidback person, comfortable in most social situations, but right from the start I found being the only dad at playgroups difficult. There were some mothers happy to chat, and I was so grateful to them, but there was never any prospect of close friendships.

“I don’t think children need to be at a play group mixing with other children when they are aged two and three. The reality is they play on their own.

“My advice for any stay-at-home dad is not be pressured in to doing what other people think is good for your child. People have suggested to me that I should start my own dads’ group, but I do not want to start a group which was oppositely exclusive to women.”

Psychotherapist analyses Garry Cook (sort of)

Just the usual stuff about me written by a top American psychotherapy.

Original article here.

It’s a Brave New World: The Life and Times of Stay-at-Home Dads

I would not classify myself as a stay-at-home dad, but I lean in that direction.  I try to spend a lot of time with my son, and participate in many of the tasks and decisions and so, I can begin to sense the psychological terrain.   I am compelled to write this as a support, a fist-raise, to those men tending to the daily fire at home, and a tribute to the moms who have paved the way.

The Winds of Change – My research is in no way scientific, but I see and read about more fathers staying at home.  As gender roles become more flexible and the economy and environment become more unpredictable, I wonder if more men are compelled to spend more time with their children.  In whatever way they come to this decision, men are at home more and more, changing diapers, going to market, sitting in the “mommy” groups, and even forming their own.  

Challenges –Perhaps stay-at-home dads are modern day explorers.  With virtually no land left to discover, these dads are the Lewis and Clarke of the 21st century, traversing complicated and emotionally rich terrain.  And with this richness comes with its questions and potential pitfalls.

Moms have certainly traversed this landscape, and yet these dads are, most likely, stepping into a type of fathering that they did not themselves experience.  Giving their children what they did not get requires stepping into this new frontier, the unknown.  This can be extremely unsettling, especially when you are alone with little very dependent ones, and have to deal with the laundry.

And, speaking of the laundry, how does one deal with the routine and balance of daily cleaning, while tracking the kids, keeping up supplies, diapers, and preparing food? How do these dads hold onto a certain “manliness” if they are not out there, conquering the world, or at least earning a living?  What will others think?  Are they now fathers or mothers or both?  Uncertainty and questions around identity come into play.  It can be quite unnerving.  As a stay at home dad, you may feel anxious, confused, angry, or depressed.

Garry-Cook-stay-at-home-dad-smallIn searching for images for my site, I met an Englishman and photographer named Garry who, upon seeing my site, confessed to me that he is a stay at home dad in England, writing a book entitled: Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here on the perils of the playgroup world. Garry offered the greatest challenge he faces as a stay at home father:

Fighting the boredom can be tough. It’s a mental challenge. While the idea of being with your child everyday – and being able to do what you want with them – is fantastic, the reality can be a dull routine of changing nappies, eating lunch and doing the weekly grocery shopping. Even the fun activities – I am a regular hill walker – can lose its shine if you do it two or three times per week, every week. Almost all the activities I do with my daughter, I do with her alone.  There are no other stay at home dads in my area. When it gets hard and I feel lonely I think about other dads I know, those who work hard and hardly see their children from Sunday night to the following Saturday morning – that helps me appreciate the situation I am in.

Rewards – As Garry alludes to here, there are rewards.  If one can traverse this challenging landscape, the views can be spectacular and the feeling of connection can be deep.  (Has this been mothers’ best kept secret for centuries?). Being with your child so much of the time offers more opportunities to be a part of something quite special: the development of a human being with all of its vulnerability, unexpectedness, strength and determination.  We as fathers can learn a great deal from our children if we can participate in the mundane.  About our own past, how to remember our own playfulness, and, how to be present to the immutable truth of change.  These lessons pay dividends.

If men can let go of certain expectations, a walk or meal can be special.  It also helps to tap into one’s own creativity.  One father I read about dealt with his own anxiety about losing his “manly” edge by taking up woodworking at home, between naps. And, certainly, no one can do it alone.  Any stay at home parent needs contact with other adults, especially those who have walked the path as well.

Again, Garry offers a window into the payoff:

Being a stay at home dad has forced me to face my prejudices of the male and female role within the family. As progressive as it is to have equality between the sexes, a male becoming the primary caretaker is still a difficult decision to make… however, when the weather is nice and we go for a long walk – with my daughter in the backpack – it feels like being on holiday. I feel like I am experiencing something special with my daughter and try to involve her by talking to her and encouraging her to touch trees and hold leaves.  

I like what Garry says here. It gives a sense of the simple and real pleasures that can be had with our children, especially if we can learn to work with the conflicts, questions, feelings that arise in stepping into the wilderness of being a stay at home dad.   We are indeed in a new frontier as parents and as human beings.

We are ushering in the next generation, who will be face greater challenges (and hopefully rewards) and it is our job to prepare them the best we can.  As stay at home fathers, we can rewrite many of the stories that were handed to us, and thus set our children free to write their own.  If you are a stay at home dad, and feel overwhelmed, please reach out.  Try to find other dads, support groups, therapy.  Build a net with which you and your children can flourish.

 

 

Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here – OUT TODAY

This amazing book is out today.

Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here is a book about one dad, one daughter and the children’s playgroups.

It’s quite funny, explores the women-only world of playgroups and destroys some of the myths about how important child care is for youngsters.

Get the book on Kindle here in the UK.

Or get it here in the US.

Or you can cut and paste these handy links:

http://bit.ly/SAHDkindleUS

http://bit.ly/SAHDkindleUK

garry cook stay at home dads

garry cook stay at home dads are not welcome here

Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here – Press Release

Press release

Lonely dad publishes biting satire about experiences of infiltrating
the mother-only world of children’s playgroups

Stay at home dad Garry Cook has published a book about his difficult experiences attending the female-dominated world of children’s playgroups.

Cook, from Whalley, travelled across Lancashire visiting various playgroups with his one-year-old daughter Betsy.

But as the only dad in the village hall, Cook says he found being a man in a land of mothers an excruciatingly painful experience.

His hilarious book documents his experiences of mad mothers, over-enthusiastic class leaders and screaming children. He also explores his own prejudices concerning the role of males and females in society.

Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here also explores whether playgroups, preschool and child care actually benefit children. Cook discovered some surprising evidence which claimed that these groups can actually have a negative effect on child development.

He said: “The common perception is that a playgroup will benefit you child, help them develop social skills and learn to mix with other children.

“But the reality could not be more different. Some research actually labels children’s groups, and specifically preschool, as harmful to a child development, stating that they learn bad habits and develop unattractive social skills.”

But the main focus of the book is being a male in female-dominated environment.

Cook added: “I’m a fairly laidback person, comfortable in most social situations but right from the start I found being the only dad at playgroups difficult.

“Much of the academic research into playgroups highlight how beneficial they are to mothers, giving them a support network and an opportunity to discuss parenting issues. But for a man in these groups such support networks do not exist. It is a lonely experience.

“People have suggested to me that I should start my own dads group. But I do not want to start a group which was oppositely exclusive to women. I think that would be wrong. I would also be the only person who turned up. There are hardly any stay-at-home dads around.”

He added: “There were some mothers happy to chat – and I was so grateful to them – but there was never any prospect of developing close friendships. Can you imagine their husband’s face if he came home early from work to see me sat at the kitchen table drinking a glass of wine?

“The reality of playgroups is that they are for mums. Talking about nappies, birthday party arrangements or the new hairdressers in Clitheroe is not really a male thing.

“Society has been able to bring down social barriers and encourage equality in many areas of life but, for men, I feel that being a stay at home dad will be a lonely experience, particularly in playgroups, for decades to come.

“My advice for any stay-at-home dad is not be pressured in to doing what other people think is good for your child. If you’re taking them to parks, going on walks or bike rides with them, or sitting reading and drawing, and your child is enjoy themselves, that is all they need.

“I don’t think children need to be at a playgroup mixing with other children when they are aged two and three. The reality is they play on their own – or with you – anyway. At such a young age, children aren’t really too concerned with playing with others. They have plenty of time to develop those social skills at school. In fact, they are already developing their social skills with you.”

The book, which includes full-colour photography, is available on Kindle now. A paper version will be published soon.

 

 

NOTES:

Nokia collaborated with Garry Cook on the Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here project. All images in the project were shot on a Nokia Lumia 1020 camera phone.

Garry Cook is a journalist and documentary photographer. His documentary photography explores social behaviour close up. Previous projects include Flashes to Ashes, examining smoking in public, Brilliant Blackpool, a celebration of life in Britain’s brightest and brashest seaside town and Outsiders, a series of portrait photographs and interviews with unique, unusual and misunderstood people. Website http://www.gazcook.com

For the latest updates on Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here, visit: http://www.arenotwelcomehere.wordpress.com

A digital copy of Stay At Home Dads Are Not Welcome Here (in Kindle or pdf formats), plus images from the book are available on request. Images can also be downloaded from http://www.arenotwelcomehere.wordpress.com