FAM­ILY MAT­TERS Daddy cool O

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

N aver­age, dads spend less than half the amount of time mums do with their kids, of­ten not hav­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity for their chil­dren at all dur­ing the week.

While many sur­veys sug­gest most peo­ple sup­port the idea of equal par­ent­ing – around 60% of peo­ple back each par­ent do­ing an equal share – less than 4% of new dads take any shared parental leave. Shock­ingly, a third of new fa­thers don’t even use their two weeks of pa­ter­nity leave.

Fa­thers James Mil­lar and David Freed, who writes the par­ent­ing blog Dads Turn, call this the ‘pa­ter­nity gap’, and they’ve writ­ten the new book Dads Don’t Babysit to of­fer so­lu­tions to help close it.

“We want a more equal so­ci­ety, as surely most peo­ple do,” says James. “In this year that marks 100 years since the suc­cess of the suf­fragettes, men might just be the fi­nal piece of the puz­zle. Women have been fight­ing for equal­ity for decades, now it’s the dads’ turn.”

Here, James and David of­fer some sim­ple steps for par­ents and par­ents-to-be to help work to­wards equal par­ent­ing: DAVID and James stress that dads are just as re­spon­si­ble for chil­dren as mums, yet their book takes its name from the num­ber of times they were told they were ‘babysit­ting’ when look­ing af­ter their kids.

“The word ‘babysit­ting’ means tem­po­rar­ily look­ing af­ter some­one else’s chil­dren. No-one would tell a mum she’s babysit­ting her own kid,” says David.

“When some­one tells me I’m babysit­ting my own kid, they’re un­wit­tingly buy­ing into the idea that I’m do­ing it as a favour to the child’s mum. “I’m ac­tu­ally just look­ing af­ter my own kid.” He points out that the lat­est re­search shows that what makes us nat­u­rally bet­ter par­ents isn’t our sex, but the time we spend alone look­ing af­ter our ba­bies. “So if you hear peo­ple talk­ing about dads as back-up par­ents with­out real re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own kids, chal­lenge them on it. Ask if they’d say the same about a mum in that sit­u­a­tion.” MEN aren’t brought up to sing in pub­lic, James points out, and this means rhyme-time type events are off-putting to dads.

There are two pos­si­ble so­lu­tions to this, he says. Men can do more sing­ing with their kids in the house, shower, car, etc, or they can try to set up events that ap­peal to men more.

“In­stead of call­ing it Rhyme Time, call it Mini Rock Club,” sug­gests A dad tak­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity for young chil­dren on his own is likely to con­tinue do­ing so as his child grows MAKE it nor­mal for both par­ents to field the nurs­ery or school calls. When your child starts there, put dad’s name and num­ber first on any forms so both par­ents can call the shots and step up for child­care emer­gen­cies. DAVID says the ev­i­dence is clear that, when a dad takes full re­spon­si­bil­ity for child­care on his own, he’s sig­nif­i­cantly more

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