Now here’s an article that might ruffle a few feathers, is it mums or dads who have an easier time when bringing up children?
I have heard it said that mothers switch in to ‘baby obsessive’ mode when their child is born, whilst dads became background providers. In other words mums look after the baby, and dads make sure the family is provided for. This may have been the case many years ago, but nowadays I would assume that such responsibilities are shared between mum and dad. I know that is the case with my family.
Even with responsibilities balanced out between mum and dad, there are some significant differences in how we parent. For example in Ireland, mothers are entitled to six months maternity leave after having a baby. That’s very nice I’m sure you would agree. But dads get nothing, except what their employer offers them as a perk. In my case I get just three days, if I want more I have to take it from my annual leave entitlement. The problem with this is that it assumes the father is the most important earner. That is no longer the case. Although I am a fancy computer programmer type, my wife is a much-needed childrens speech pathologist and it is harder for her to take time off from her job than it is for me. It would be nice if we could split the six months of leave between us, but the law does not allow that. It means both parents would get to spend equal amounts of time with the baby at a very important time in its development.
Another issue is that there seems to be a wide ranging assumption that when a child misbehaves that the mother is primarily responsible for the child displaying such traits. If you were going to complain about a child’s behaviour and you could go to wither the mum or the dad who would you go to first? I would assume the mum and I can see why that would be a pain for her.
There are also lots of little things that make it more difficult to be either a mum or dad. For example dads can feel a little bit uncomfortable taking their child to the park by themselves because they assume that other people view men without wives/partners in parks as suspicious. Mums sometimes feel like they must live with being labelled as ‘homemakers’.
Plus, there is the big one – children preferring one parent over the other. This can cause so much stress like you wouldn’t believe.
Personally, I think both parents have it equally as bad, but that individual family circumstances can change this balance. I know in my family’s case we share the pain and joy. But we may be lucky, what do you think?