A Portland store aims to show that dads play an active role in parenting. The store, Seahorses, was opened in 2015 by Don Hudson, a father of four.

Hudson opened the store to challenge the stereotype that dads are babysitters rather than parents involved in raising their kids.

“It’s an insult,” Hudson said. “We’re not babysitting. We’re parenting. They’re our kids.”

Hudson named the store Seahorses after the important role that seahorse fathers have in parenting their offspring. Through Seahorses, Hudson hopes to give dads a way to voice their own reflections on parenting. The store sells strollers, baby carriers, diaper bags, and toys. Hudson described the products as “practical, “innovative,” and intended to “make life easier.”

In addition to the store, Seahorses is a space for families and the community. Seahorses hosts events such as dad workshops, parenting playdates, baby sign language classes, and preschool cooking classes.

“The back half of the place, that’s where I’ve got my enclosed kids’ area with the countertops where dads ― or moms ― can sit around and use the Wi-Fi and have a cup of coffee, let the kids play for a minute, take a break from parenting for five minutes and breathe,” Hudson said.

The store is making a difference in the community and has even been named one of the best places in Portland to shop for kids.

Hudson hopes to bring Seahorses to communities across the country and is proud of its impact on the Portland community.

“We’ve successfully conveyed the message that dads are competent parents. We’re not a bunch of bumbling idiots like the media portrays,” Hudson said. “If you leave the kid alone with dad, he’s not going to be home stuck to the wall. Not everyone puts sharpie marker on their kids’ eyebrows just to get a good picture out of it. We’re in the trenches, too.”

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.