DADS DON’T BABYSIT: TOWARDS EQUAL PARENTING WITH DAVID FREED
Today on the blog I’m talking about a book. A book for dads, but also A BOOK I’M IN!
OK actually, I’m not talking about the book, instead the man who wrote the book is going to take over and give you the low down. So over to David Freed to tell you about his book ‘Dads Don’t Babysit: Towards Equal Parenting’…
I haven’t met a dad who hasn’t been overrun by goose-bumps and nurturing instinct when taking care of his little trolls. Over 60% of parents believe dads should have an equal role in parenting, and a majority of new dads are now saying they want more time and responsibility with their kids. On top of that, the benefits for dads, mums and kids of more equally shared parenting are backed up by a growing body of research.
So why are dads so far behind mums in sharing parenting responsibility? Uptake of parental leave by new dads is still miniscule at around 4% compared to over 90% in Scandinavia, with even less of the overall leave days being used up by dads. As the kids get older, dads also spend far less time than mums with their tots and teenagers during the week, and in many cases almost never have sole responsibility for their own kids.
The ideas that dads make worse parents and shouldn’t be responsible for the kids are still very present in our society. It’s these ideas that are holding dads back, with a lot of mums and kids losing out at the same time. Nowadays, it’s rare to come across these views openly, but a lot of people still think them privately.
I have not seen a single good reason why dads make worse parents than mums. In fact, contrary to popular myths, the more dads look after their babies the more they experience similar brain changes to mums to prepare them to care for their children. These changes are parental.
What makes us ‘naturally’ better parents is not the contents of our pants, but the time we spend alone looking after our babies.
This is not to mention the huge benefits for mums, dads and the kids that come from sharing parenting more equally. Families are more likely to be happier, wealthier and more fulfilled if parents get the real chance to share childcare more equally.
The parental leave system has many shortcomings that prevent dads from taking it, but the real barriers are cultural. They’re found in the workplace, and they’re found in the conversations we have with family, friends and strangers. They are even found deep within us as parents: with many dads feeling nervous about breaking the mould of the breadwinner weekend-only dad, and many mums worried about ‘mum guilt’ if they share the burdens of caring for the kids.
More and more dads are pushing back at these traditional ideas that keep them at arms-length from their offspring. But we’ve still got a long way to go. At home and in the office, from the breakfast cereal ad to the bedtime story, parents are subject to different pressures and expectations about what their role should be. Mums and dads are prevented from making a free and fair choice about how they share parenting.
It’s time to put that right.
Considering everything from hormones to Homer Simpson, from parental leave to the pay gap, David’s new book coming out in September, Dads Don’t Babysit: towards equal parenting [https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dads-Dont-Babysit-Towards-Parenting/dp/1911383167] is set to be a great read for any parent or parent-to-be who cares about dad taking his turn.
See more from David Freed…
Thanks for reading,
David & David 🙂
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