“The Wife”

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. 

SAHD GRAPH

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…… ; ) ).

dad at home

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.

THE INTERNannehathaway

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”. 
gapremainsdiv labour

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. 


This Mum's Life
Cuddle Fairy

30 thoughts on ““The Wife”

  1. I agree. When my husband changes a nappy or does something ‘hands-on’ with the kids my mother-in-law will often comment on how great it is that he is involved and does things. Why wouldn’t he??? If I go out and leave the kids with him, she says that he is baby-sitting. This infuriates him. How can he be babysitting when they are his own kids? He’s just being a dad! #StayClassy

    1. I know exactly what you’re talking about. My husband took our son to the doctor, he took a short 10min bus ride and in that time he had two compliments for being on his own and for getting our son out of the house at such a young age (he was 1 month)! I didn’t get any compliments and I went on the bus or out of the house every day! Ha ha!

  2. An interesting read and I found myself nodding along with what you said as I am sure many women will when they read your post (though if a woman spent the entire time asking my husband the questions and not me I’d probably think she was flirting – but maybe thats my insecurities coming through there!). I do get frustrated with how much men are praised for childcare when women aren’t so I totally hear you #coolmumclub

  3. Well said! While I’m the primary carer for the Popple while on mat leave, my husband is very much involved. We’re lucky that his job as an academic is flexible, so he was able to be home a lot in the early days, and now is home from work by 4pm every day. We’re very much a team – I don’t know how we’d manage otherwise! #coolmumclub

    1. Ah that’s awesome! I’m glad to hear other couples are working together. My partner works from home which is helpful but at the same time the line between work and home is blurred which makes it frustrating when he has to work late! But other than that we are very much at team as well. : )

  4. My husband and I were just having this conversation yesterday! He wants to be really hands on and involved, he doesn’t want to miss out. Unfortunately I can’t work while we’re here in the USA so I will be doing the majority of the child care but we’re going to make a real effort to make sure he has an equal role so our child knows that both mum and dad can be fun but strict, we think it will make our relationship better that way. Ps. He did joke when we first found out we were expecting that Phil from Modern Family was his dad-inspiration….we’ll see how that goes?!!

    1. Omg I love Phil! They actually are a team in some ways on the show, Phil does do a majority of home and childcare…Seriously I watched every single episode of Modern Family the first month Bear was born, it made me feel better, a little comic therapy ha ha.

  5. I totally agree with this, it’s so sad that gender roles are still so entrenched. My husband owns and runs his own pub, and I worked there before maternity. It makes financial sense for him to work, obviously, and we weren’t entitled to shared leave as he’s self employed. I think I would have wanted full maternity leave anyway even if it was an option. But at home he does all of the cooking and a fair proportion of cleaning, and we both do all the baby stuff! He is great at supporting me with breastfeeding and will do the nappy change after night feeds/settle TM down again etc. I hate it when people comment how lucky I am because we chose to be parents together, as a team. Nobody tells him how lucky he is that I am happy to look after the baby while he works!! Still a long way to go, sadly, but things are getting better. Thanks for hosting #StayClassy

    1. Same my partner is part-owner of the company he works for and it was difficult for him to take time off as they wouldn’t be able to manage without him. But he would have if he could. I think we are getting there but for some reason there is still this stigma attached to stay-at-home Dads and working Moms. Thanks for linking!!

  6. This is a really interesting article. In my household things are probably 60/40 to me and it works for us. Team work is SO important…especially during the first few years of parenting! #themumproject

  7. I’ve found it really surprising how the assumption is still that mum is always the one at home. I went back to work when my daughter was 2 months, and my partner is a SAHD. But even the health visitors will direct all their questions to me, even though I’m not the one who is going to be able to give them answers! x #fabfridaypost

    1. Totally agree. I was really surprised to find that people still view the role of parents this way! We still have a little bit to go so I thought it was important to highlight. : )

  8. Very interesting article, and good research too. I am a stay at home mum. Aside the fact that I can’t afford childcare, I actually want to stay at home with my children. When I think I need a break – that’s when my kids Dad come into the equation. If I could choose I would like to work from home full-time, but it doesn’t mean I will be on full shift all the time. I too need a break. haha Thank you for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

    1. Childcare is SO expensive! My partner is looking into potentially working part-time when I go back to work so that we don’t have to pay for a nanny or nursery full time, it’s basically the same as a full paycheck. Totally respect stay at home Moms as I think it is THE hardest job, definitely harder than my actual job ha ha! I’m just surprised at how the public puts less value on a man being a stay at home Dad and a working Mom. A Dad can do the same job a Mom does and vice versa!

  9. I think part of the issue lies in how our husband or partners were raised. My husband grew up with his mother raising him – she was a stay at home and did all the household things so in turn, my husband expects the same. Meanwhile, I grew up with 2 working parents and my dad has OCD so he has a hard time letting go of household chores. I hope that our generation of children see a full range of different type of working households so that they impart those same values on their children. #StayClassy!

    1. That’s so true, my partner had a stay at home Mom and working Dad, fairly traditional but I think they shared responsibility for the kids and the house as he seems to want to do the same in our household. He even offered to work part time when I return to work so that we could afford childcare for the rest of the year, it is SO expensive! Anyway, I think if we set the standard for our kids now, that Mom and Dad do both, then hopefully, as you said, the next generation will see men and women as equal parts!

  10. Our household has two moms, and I am the working one. More often than not, I am treated like a husband, just as you describe here. Parents are parents and MOMS are MOMS dammit. Whether we work or we stay home, we love our kids. I wish I could stay home. I think about how much I have missed-continue to miss. At the end of teh day, it is much more rewarding to have been at the school assembly then yet another meeting. But the bills still need a way to be paid. It’s a double edged sword for all I suppose.

    1. Agreed. I think all parents want to be able to see those special moments, but someone has to pay the bills! …whether it’s the Mom or the Dad, we shouldn’t place more or less value on them just because they are a woman or a man

  11. We have a way more equal home than many because we both work and have flexible working conditions, and share much of what we do around the house as well as childcare when we are not working on our daughter is sick, but I do find that A LOT of people are still surprised by that!. Interesting huh?! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    1. That is the best! I think more jobs should have flexible working as it would make it a bit easier to share responsibility. And yes, I was very surprised to find that people still have very traditional views on the subject.

  12. This is a great post. I feel like my husband and I share most things actually, and we have a great balance. I work from home and he helps me by taking the kids out and he makes my videos for the blog etc and he does loads of childcare. We share the fun/serious bits of parenting too. It hasn’t always been this way though. I definitely did the lion’s share of the parenting when they were babies. Breast feeding was the obvious thing he couldn’t do, but apart from that, we was a demon nappy changer so I’m not complaining. Since blogging, I’ve found a lot more stay at home dads on the scene. It’s a very positive change. Thanks for linking up. #bigpinklink

    1. Agree we are finally seeing positive change with more stay-at-home-Dads and a lot more equal sharing of household duties. I’m also very happy about shared paternity leave, the 2 week paternity leave that Dads had previously is absolutely ridiculous!

  13. I think this is an amazing post, the stats and dedication you have shown and the passion of what you are saying really hit me. It made me think how I approach families, I think I talk to both but do direct more at mums, maybe because I am more comfortable with them having being a single mother so long. Changing my ways. I know my new partner worries when he takes my little one to the park solo about what people might think. Its so sad. I would love to see societal attitudes toward men change, I know many amazing housedads. Thank you for a lovely read! xx #Bloggerclubuk

    1. Thanks so much! To be honest, I feel I have also directed questions at the Mom, it’s hard because normally it is the Mom taking care of the child in the beginning due to maternity leave, but hopefully shared paternity leave will help a

  14. I absolutely love this post, and agree 100% with what you have to say! I think society today still has gender roles and sexism playing a large part, so society believes we must stick to stereotypical views . I think there is this unspoken belief that because the mother carried the child therefore she automatically knows the baby in more depth, and the father doesn’t have that same bond. I wouldn’t mind if my partner work to stay at home whilst I went out to work after having a child, but I think logistically whomever is the breadwinner should stay at work, that way you’ve got better disposable income to support the family. Unfortunately that end seems to fall onto the man’s shoulders because even in todays society men still get paid more than women in the workplace. This totally needs to change! Xxx #BloggerClubUk

  15. Love this! You make so many great points. It is the way people talk & act. And I suppose while people keep thinking that way, then society will keep functioning that way too. I’m glad you have sharing of responsibilities in your house! Thanks so much for joining us at #bloggerclubuk x

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