Towards Equal Parenting
On a cold evening in early 2016, my wife and I underwent the biggest change of our lives. Just before 5 pm, our son was born. We were both exhausted from the birth (her obviously more than me), but ecstatic at getting to finally hold old tiny troll. It was a feeling that’s difficult to describe: excitement and trepidation, as your nurturing and protective instincts kick in. This is something we were about to do together.
But shortly after my baby was born, I was told I had to leave the hospital without him… My wife, in desperate need of some sleep, was told she had to look after my son for the night, alone. Two and a half years later, I still face this disconnect between the kind of caring and fully responsible dad I want to be, and the dad others expect me to be. This attitude of placing all the burdens of childcare on mum and telling dad to leave doesn’t make sense, and isn’t fair on mums or dads.
I haven't met a dad who hasn't been overrun by goose-bumps and nurturing instinct when taking care of his little trolls. Over 60% of parents believe dads should have an equal role in parenting, and a majority of new dads are now saying they want more time and responsibility with their kids. On top of that, the benefits for dads, mums and kids of more equally shared parenting are backed up by a growing body of research.
Yet, uptake of parental leave by new dads is still miniscule at around 4%, with even less of the overall leave days being used up by dads. As the kids get older, dads also spend far less time than mums with their tots and teenagers during the week, and in many cases almost never have sole responsibility for their own kids.
Why is there such a huge gap between what parents want to do, and what happens in practice? And more importantly, how do we make it better? This is what we talk about in the book, Dads Don't Babysit.
Considering everything from hormones to Homer Simpson, from parental leave to the pay gap, Dads Don't Babysit asks why fathers are sometimes unwilling, but more often unable to share the pleasures of parenting.
More and more men want a bigger role in their family: bringing up baby and hanging out with their kids. And more women want to shared the responsibilities and burdens of childcare more fairly. Yet it's not happening. At home and in the office, from the breakfast cereal ad to the bedtime story, parents are subject to different pressures and expectations about what their role should be. Mums and dads are prevented from making a free and fair choice about how they share parenting.
It's time to put that right.
Using the latest research, personal insight, interviews, and some cartoons, as two dads we make the case for equal parenting. We show that more and more parents want to split bringing up the kids fairly; why this can be good for everyone involved; and why this is proving so difficult in practice.
We set out the biggest barriers to sharing parenting more equally, and offer real solutions for putting it right in an accessible, personal and hopefully light-hearted way.
Dads Don’t Babysit: towards equal parenting, is available from :
“Witty and well-argued, this book is a mission statement for parents' lives to be fuller and more fulfilling”
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots