A couple weeks ago I went to Mothercare with my partner to get a baby sling. This was our super fabulous Sunday out! ; )
As we were leaving the store we ran into a woman who was very keen on little Bear. Cooing and awing at him. As we were walking in the same direction, we had a conversation about the baby, his sleep patterns, bathing routine, getting him out of the house for a walk, etc It was all very normal and boring. The only thing I noticed is that she kept directing every question about the baby at me. As if my husband didn’t know what was going on with his sleeping, eating and bathing routines. This really annoyed me for two reasons.
ONE, why does everyone think the woman wants to talk about the baby and the man doesn’t? I similarly do not feel like talking about the baby ALL THE TIME. I’m sorry but I’m not Mary Poppins.
TWO, the assumption that I was responsible for all the child and household duties.
To my surprise, this happened a few more times (luckily not with any of my friends). However most people, when talking about the baby, speak to me and me only, even when my partner is standing right there. I thought we were past this, it’s 2016 people. Do people still believe the mother should be doing all of the household/childcare responsibilities? Do people think the father is not capable of doing these responsibilities? And why is this?
This inspired me to do a bit of research about the role of parents in our society, and more specifically, stay-at-home Dads and working Moms. What I found was somewhat disappointing.
Stay-at-home Dads are increasing, but not fast enough. The population still views women as the more important care provider. They found people believe that mothers are better off staying at home looking after the children than fathers.
The public places less value on the idea of a father staying at home. WHAT BS! In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 51% of respondents said children are better off if their mother is home and doesn’t hold a job. By comparison, only 8% said children are better off if their father is home and doesn’t work.
Why do we place less value on the father being at home? What? They can’t put milk into a bottle and put it in the baby’s mouth? They can’t rock the baby to sleep and place him in the crib with a little kiss on the forehead? No no no. Only a mother’s touch is best!
Or could it be that the mother is not allowing the father to do these responsibilities? Is it in a woman’s nature to be the responsible, organised partner? I call Bull Shit. Even in my favourite TV show Modern Family, the mother is the organised, responsible one while the father is the fun, goofy one. The kids love hanging out with the Dad, while the Mom is viewed as ‘strict’ and boring. The show is called MODERN family, yet the parents are still playing traditional roles.
Why are we still playing traditional roles in real life? Don’t get me wrong, if you want to be a stay-at-home Mom I completely respect you, it is definitely THE hardest job in the world. But why does society still believe that it is better if the woman stays at home with the children than the man?
What’s more, people put more value on the father working. 34% of adults said children are just as well off if their mother works, while 76% said the same about children with working fathers.
Is the man going to achieve something more valuable at work than the woman? …well, I guess they do get 15 cents more….ha!
On the other hand, we are slowly beginning to understand the value of the father in the home. With new shared paternity leave laws, mother’s are now able to share the hard work of taking care of a new baby with the father.
Did I do this? No, for financial reasons, we weren’t able to do this. Do I wish I did this? Yes. It would be fantastic! During our child’s most crucial developmental years, we would have a parent fully available for bonding and learning for an entire year! Do I see President of the United States for little Bear’s future career? I THINK SO (on second thought, I guess that wouldn’t be very hard to do at the moment…… ; ) ).
However, there is still judgment of the man staying at home, or even sharing paternity leave. Yes, it’s great Mark Zuckerberg took a full two months paternity leave! But that doesn’t make it easy for the average Joe to do the same. The average Joe has pressure from his manager, especially if it’s a man, to come back to work as soon as possible. The average Joe has pressure from his mates who may think he is ‘whipped’ or deem him ‘the wife’ in the relationship. OH GOD! Don’t deem him the wife! How is he going to ever look at himself in the mirror?
Jokes aside, I recently watched a film called, “The Intern,” with Anne Hathaway who plays a successful business woman who built an online e-commerce business from the ground up, while her husband takes a back seat from his career as a successful Marketing guru to be a stay-at-home Dad. Even in the film, the ‘other Moms’ at the children’s school call the husband “the wife” and make fun of Anne Hathaway’s character for not being able to make homemade guacamole and look down on her for not spending enough time with her daughter.
This film scared me. Does this movie really reflect societal views on the role of men and women as parents? As I am still a new Mom, I haven’t run into any judgmental parents at the playground but I truly hope that people are more open-minded than how the film portrays the public’s view of stay-at-home Dads and working Moms. (as a side note: positively, this was the first film I have ever seen with a stay-at-home Dad)
While women are becoming more equal in the workplace, we still need to work on equality in the home. This is happening, but not fast enough. The gap still remains at home. We need to change our perspective on what ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy’ do in the household so that our children can truly view men and women as equal parts. Even though Mom is now working, Dad needs to start “cooking”.
In your home, who do you think is more responsible for the household/child responsibilities? Maybe women have been conditioned to believe that we actually are better, so we must do it all. Personally, sometimes I feel like I know what Bear needs more than my partner does, but then I remember, everyone has a different way of doing things and I need to let go and let him do it the way he wants to do it. Since becoming pregnant, I have truly learned that I need to LET GO. We need to start treating men like they are capable of taking care of children and housework….because, the truth is, they are (even though I secretly want to think I am better).
I’m not sure what has led us to believe that woman are more valuable in the home and men are more valuable at work. It could be women are viewed as more nurturing. It could be women aren’t “letting go” of the responsibilities. It could be societal pressure on men to be successful at work. It could be the negative feedback from friends and colleagues of men staying at home with the children.
But if I have anything to do with it, I’m going to make sure Bear sees us sharing the responsibility. Mom and Dad are both fun and strict equally. Screw you Modern Family. I want him to grow up truly respecting women and men as equals in the workplace and at home.