With the number of At-Home Dads increasing, the blogosphere chimes in about the changing roles of parents.
This article originally appeared at Let Children Play.
Recently we reached out to some of our favorite moms around the blogosphere to hear about whether or not they felt they shared the responsibilities of the home and the raising of their children equally with their husband. Parenting is changing in the western world and one of the biggest shifts we are seeing is the increase in At-Home Dads. Dads, it appears, are staying home not only because of the economic downturn, but also because men want to play a more hands on role in the lives of their children. ABC news recently ran this story detailing the rise of At-Home dads and popular dad blogger and at home dad, The Real Matt Daddy shared his insights into who the real At Home Dads are and what they do.
As evidenced by the growing number of dads writing blogs and forming groups like NYC Dads Group, a spot for dads across the city to come together and talk about parenting, dads want to be more involved than ever before, regardless of whether they are at-home dads or not. So how is that playing out on the front lines child rearing? Here is a bit of feedback we got from mothers on how they feel their responsibilities are shared in the household. Read on to hear about what a few moms had to say about sharing responsibilities in the home.
Ashley Myers of Being a Conscious Parent writes: My husband is a stay at home dad by choice. Before we had children we both decided that we didn’t want to pay for childcare and one of us would stay home. It was best if he was home, while I worked. We communicate what we expect of the other person and when we are not meeting that expectation. This helps both of us not have resentment towards one another. We both have our roles in our household that work for us. I take care of all the bills and “admin” for the house, he does most of the cooking (he enjoys it). If I have extra energy one day, I will do more and if I don’t he will do more. We are a team and work together well that way. My husband has said to me that joining “mommy and me” classes is not really dad friendly, but that doesn’t really bother him. We both understand that this is what we need to do to provide for our family the best way we can. I recently had my second and I am spoiled because my husband didn’t go back to work after only a couple of days. Eventually, the roles will shift again, to what I don’t know, but I know that if we communicate with each other things are a lot better! Oh and for me not to expect him to be exactly like me!
MaryAnn, founder of the blog Mama Smiles writes: I’m home full time and my husband works full time, but when he’s looking after the kids he has full responsibility—and is as capable a parent as I am. We both have our areas where we are a bit more lenient—and a bit less tolerant—than the other.
Genny Upton of the blog In Lieu of Preschool writes: My husband works and I stay at home, but he does 95% of all the laundry and probably more than half of the dishes. He reads to the kids at night, and helps with discipline, too. I think it just depends on the family’s relationship and everyone having open communication.
Kristen Mason founder of Busy Kids Happy Mom shared this: My husband does not stay home, but he is a total hands-on dad! I think it’s important for mom’s to give up some control and let the dad jump right in! My husband puts the kids to bed every night, drives them to school, and takes one out for breakfast each weekend (they take turns). It’s not perfect, but it works for us! I think there’s even more pressure on dads nowadays to be in the mix. He comes home and helps with dinner, plays with the kids, takes them to tae kwon do and makes lunches. His involvement in my son’s lives helps them develop their character and become more confident. He’s got many years to perfect his golf game, but not many to be an involved dad! (He doesn’t play golf—it’s just and example!) He makes many sacrifices and I appreciate him.
I can certainly agree with these women that many husbands do seem receptive to sharing house work and child rearing responsibilities these days, certainly more so than in previous generations. My husband would fit right into the mix described above. He cooks, he cleans, changes diapers, does laundry, reads stories and tucks the children in at night. He works full time and then comes come and pitches in the best he can. This article in The Guardian backs up what these mothers are describing as their personal experience. Researchers have found that fathers are happier when they pitch in around the house and have less stress in their lives when they are more engaged with the kids. Dr. Caroline Gatrell of the Lancaster University management school, the lead researcher in the two-year project carried out for the charity Working Families says, “The way we ‘do’ family has changed—not only because mothers are more likely to go out to work but also because today both mothers and fathers want close relationships with children as they are growing up.” While she admits that work constraints sometime limit the amount of time dads have with their kids or how much housework they can get done, ultimately the attitude has transitioned. Dads want to be involved in domestic life and it is time for employers to recognize this, allowing dads to work more flexible hours with the same pay and benefits.
But of course there are also those that disagree that things have ultimately changed. In this ABC news article, titled “Mr. Mom, Men Doing More Chores”, Scott Coltrane, sociology professor at the University of California, Riverside and author of Family Man says, “What we’re seeing is the catching up of the sexual and labor market forces, that men are picking up somewhat more of the slack at home. Men are slowly and sometimes reluctantly assuming more of daily tasks. I have seen lots of change in one generation.” He continues by saying, “The primary mechanism through which men do more is women demanding more, cajoling, setting up situations in which men feel more obligated to do it.”
Do you agree with Dr. Coltrane or do you find the findings that dads are happier when they help out by Dr. Gatrell to ring true for you and your family? Are we really splitting things up equally and in such a way that both partners are happy and satisfied with the arrangement ? Do you believe the attitudes about fathering and mothering have changed? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
—Photo credit: Flickr / macinate