Caregiving Dads


Last summer (July 2011), I was asked by the New York Times to participate in a debate about women and work in Europe. I chose to address the issue of policy changes that work towards gender change and how men’s parental leave is a critical part of this issue.

Below is the first part of my response; for the full piece, click here.

The quest for greater gender equality in paid work and care work requires multiple strategies that involve both women and men. The International Herald Tribune article about women in the German work force dealt mainly with the issue of women and work. Yet, the challenges that men face, both as workers and as caregivers, must also be addressed.

One way of addressing this is to look to countries like Sweden, Norway and Canada for lessons on how parental leave policies have been used to encourage changing gender relations around paid work and care work. These are policies that recognize and build on the constant interplay between gender equality and gender differences.

In Sweden and Norway, there has been a significant shift away from the “male breadwinner/ female caregiver model” of work and family. This occurred partly through respecting a long-standing practice of long maternity leaves for women combined with affordable, accessible and high-quality child care; to this, they added parental leave policies designed to encourage men to be involved in early child care. One of the rationales for the latter was that getting fathers into the home would help to disrupt a deeply rooted pattern and social norm of women as primary care-giving experts and men as main breadwinners.

Click here to read more and to join in the debate!

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I belong to one of the couple types that Hanna Rosin described in her recent piece on breadwinner wives in Slate magazine—the one where the “woman is a born workaholic and the man lives a slower pace”. Although it is more complex than those labels, I have nevertheless lived a version of that story for about twenty years.

I’m a professor, researcher and author; my husband is a naturopathic doctor / acupuncturist whose work schedule goes up and down depending on the economy. We have raised three children together (one is now 20, and the twins are 16 years old).

I have also spent twenty years researching and writing about the changing stories of breadwinning mothers and primary caregiving fathers.

Read the full story here.

 
*Photo credits: Mom and Dad (Flying a Kite), courtesy of one of my daughters (at age 5)

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Are Dads Facing Playground Discrimination?

February 3, 2011

Are men being kicked out of playgrounds? Are dads facing playground or playgroup discrimination? These questions, and some answers, were floating on the blogosphere and twitterverse over the last few weeks. Read the full post here at Girl With Pen.

Read the full article →