FAMILY MATTERS Daddy cool O
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