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Do women really want 50-50 childcare?

(105 Posts)
Truckrelented Tue 21-Jun-11 21:56:50

I'll be open from the outset I am a man, who used to post regularish but I've been off here for a while.

I am a father that has shared residency of our children, but with the threads I've read recently and conversations in real life I don't see a lot of interest in this.

Now I would have thought this was the way to equality as it enables both parents to carry on working and be independent and to have equal involvement in their children's lives.

But it seems that would be preferred is the father to see the children every-other-weekend, pay his maintenance (in whatever way it was agreed) and pretty much be a McDad.

Is that really what people want?

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 22:04:19

it's not really about what people want. or about what the parents think is fair and equal. it has to be about what is right for the child/ren.

but when you have a court system that decrees that there does not have to be any positive benefit to the child in order to award shared residence, you do have to wonder where it is all going to end up.

personally, i don't think that a 50/50 split of residence is the right answer for all cases. it may be in certain situations, but it should never be the de facto answer. it should always depend upon the circumstances and upon the needs of the children. just because it 'suits' the parents, enables them to work and seems 'fair', doesn't mean it meets the needs of the children. would you like to live half your life in one place and half in another? i wouldn't...

meditrina Tue 21-Jun-11 22:07:56

I am rather suspicious of the mantra of "what women want" - probably because I had one of my DCs at a time when that seemed to be the mantra of my maternity service and I felt like I was hitting a brick wall because an inflexible system was presented as such because "we're only doing what women want". OK - for some women it must have been spot on. For me, no.

I'd say that what is best is to avoid trying to extrapolate. It's best if the people concerned work out what they want, and that the structures that are necessary to implement it can actually support whatever is decided.

In the situations you describe, the child's interests are paramount. One always hopes for parents who will work together in a civilised enough fashion to achieve this. I happen to think that time with both parents is best. And I think that is probably a widely held view. But I wouldn't expect that to prevail automatically, as the logistics and variations in RL are just too great.

DuelingFanjo Tue 21-Jun-11 22:09:15

it surely depends entirely on each individual circumstance. You can't have a 'one sie fits all' approach to every child custody case.

Personally I would be happy with a 50/50 childcare split within my stable marriage but I think a lot of women find they are doing the bulk of childcare even after they return to work following maternity leave.

AuntiePickleBottom Tue 21-Jun-11 22:11:39

if me and dh where to split, i would be looking for a long term access plan.

i would hate to be the one doing the school runs, homework ect and then when it comes to the weekend DH has all the fun with the children iygwim.

i really never thought about how it will work, so this is on the spot thinking

Fernier Tue 21-Jun-11 22:11:49

It's ideal for parents to share responsibility but I do wonder about Some families where children live half the time at one house half the time at another - it must be annoying to keep changing houses especially for older chidlren? i know that my stepsister was upset each time she had to change and it did affect her alot.

DuelingFanjo Tue 21-Jun-11 22:13:42

and you used to be Truckulente, yes?

MsTeak Tue 21-Jun-11 22:15:40

you'd probably have to ask ALL women, since we don't actually all share the same mind. hmm

Kiwiinkits Tue 21-Jun-11 22:16:53

Hi Truck, welcome back. I always liked your humourous posts over on Dadsnet and I'm glad to see you haven't disappeared forever.

I would want a 50-50 arrangement, I think, provided it didn't negatively affect the kids too much. That said, I fully respect my DH and I think he's a great dad. If something happened in our relationship that caused us to split and caused me not to respect him or his parenting, I'd probably fight for more custody. It's all hypothetical at this stage, though.

No-one ever knows what women want. It's life's big mystery. We basically want whatever she's got...

troisgarcons Tue 21-Jun-11 22:18:18

TBH if you read here all the women do is whine their partners work 14 hours a day, don't clean the bog, don't do 50% chores, dont cook an evening meal on a rotation basis and don't put the kids to bed. THEN turn it up a notch when their 'D'P wants quality time with the children (apparently totally incapable) THEN can't understand why the 'D'P fecks off with a woman who isn't a whiney control freak.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 21-Jun-11 22:22:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Truckrelented Tue 21-Jun-11 22:29:00

I was Truckulent (and Truckulente when I felt a bit daring)

I was a big advocate of 50-50 but I think I'm changing my mind a bit.
As after 5 years of doing it I'm still the only father I know who does it, I just don't think our society is really geared for it.

You have to have a very amicable and logical relationship to make it work.
Which can be difficult after separation.

My career has suffered and I'm considered an oddity at work for looking after the children so much (and believe me not a hero, more a bit non-flexible and a bit of a non-team player)

The way child benefit, tax credits etc work is geared for a resident and non-resident parent.

I tend to think women (as a group) want to be with their children more than men (as a group).

Now whether this is biological or how society has engineered it I really can't say.

InFlames Tue 21-Jun-11 22:33:33

Whatever's right for children first, followed by parents, on equal footing. Not a custody arrangement but my DH does 4 days a week, sometimes 5, as 'sahd' while I work, I do the other days when he works nights. It's great, he loves it, I love it and DS is thriving :-)

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 22:38:04

bloody hell - good job it's not a woman saying 'I tend to think women (as a group) want to be with their children more than men (as a group).' you would be flamed until there was nothing left of your bones...

all i know is that i react very differently to not being around my children than my XH does. when i don't have the children, i literally want to give up. i can't think; i can't reason; i mourn and grieve for them until i make myself ill.

when he doesn't have them, he goes away for the weekend and parties.

i am not trying to say that he doesn't love them every bit as much as i do. or that it in any way makes him less of a parent. but i can't 'let go' of my children in the way that he can. i can't think 'oh fab - they are away for 3 days. woohooo i can work / party etc'. all i can think is 'waaaaaaaaaaahhhh, my kids...'

which is presumably why he can and does organise to go abroad with work when it is his time for contact with them. willingly giving up his access to them and their time with him. i cannot in a million years ever imagining NOT being with my kids when it is my contact time.

so perhaps you are right in a way, although i wouldn't have put it the way you did. i cannot bear the thought of not being with my children. there is nothing good about not being with them. i want to be with them and when i can't be with them, i simply don't want to be.

which is why for me 50:50 was a living hell; and 60:40, which i have now, is no better...

as a woman, rightly or wrongly you are 'judged' for not having sole residence of your kids. people look at me as if i have done something wrong when i explain that i have shared residence. somehow society still considers that kids should be resident with their mothers. and if they aren't, then the mother is somehow 'defective'.

InFlames Tue 21-Jun-11 22:38:15

Am also considered an oddity, as is DH tho he gets hero worship and I get 'crap mum' - thank god for thick skin ;-)

K999 Tue 21-Jun-11 22:43:20

I share residence jointly with my ex DH re dd1, for two reasons-

(1) he is her father and wanted joint custody
(2) she adores her father and it was certainly in her best interests that she have us equally in her life.

After we separated this is what we all wanted. It's been like that for six years and has pretty much worked ok.

Truckrelented Tue 21-Jun-11 22:46:12

I think if it's what everyone wants and was pretty much what was happening anyway it's ok.

But is it the future?

K999 Tue 21-Jun-11 22:47:31

Doing the best you can for your children is shaping their future for the better.....

Portofino Tue 21-Jun-11 22:49:55

Hmmm, now I agree with 50/50 in principle, but if I thought about it in relationship to a hypothetical split between me and DH, I wouldn't be so keen. For practical reasons - he travels a lot, but also because, whilst he is fun, hands on dad, he is better at the fun side. He is not consistent about rules. He gets frustrated and shouts over homework problems. He seems to be too laid back in certain situations and very set in his ways in others.

I would probably prefer to do the main "parenting" role, even if that meant that he got all the fun bits ifyswim. Dd and I talk about stuff, all the time. With her dad, its all " Can we have the Wii on/lets play snakes and ladders"

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 22:50:14

how can it be the future? it's not going to suit every family, is it?

certainly, if we are to believe what is reported, shared residence is very much considered to be the future. but this does not mean 50:50. you can have shared residence at 80:20. the principle is that both parents are actively involved in bringing up the children; and the children have a home with both parents, even if they don't spend equal amounts of time there.

Portofino Tue 21-Jun-11 22:52:53

WishIwas - are your DCs happy with the arrangement?

spookshowangel Tue 21-Jun-11 23:00:03

i would have been happy with 50/50 but it just never came up. i dont grieve when my kids are not here. i party with my friends also my husband is a functioning alcoholic so can only really hold it together drinking wise for the two days. sad but true.

WishIWasRimaHorton Tue 21-Jun-11 23:00:32

portofino - it is hard to tell. they are v young (4 and 2), so separation anxiety is a problem. there is no doubt they love having 2 lots of toys. but i worry that all the to-ing and fro-ing will result in them becoming insecure. they are loved and cherished by both their father and me. but there is a great deal of stress and distress around separation time (although they are mostly fine once they are in situ). and the logistics will just get more difficult to manage as time goes on and the lists of school things etc to remember becomes more unwieldy.

K999 Tue 21-Jun-11 23:04:51

WishIWas ...I agree re your views about mothers being judged if they don't have sole custody. My mum said that my DD would never forgive me for not fighting for her. I told my mum that my DD was not to be fought over and that I was putting her first. I knew it would have devastated DD had she not had dad in her life too. As it has turned out, it was the best decision and my mum even accepts this now too. smile

allegrageller Tue 21-Jun-11 23:05:02

WiW has said pretty much all I would like to say about the emotional side of it. But obviously we can't speak for all mothers.

I am in my empty house tonight alone as the dc's have gone back to their dad's and I won't see them for 4 days. I always cry on Tuesday nights. I suspect he doesn't cry for hours the night that he hands them back to me.

I have been so depressed over the situation earlier this year that (incredibly counterproductively for me, since it started with feeling the loss of the kids so much) I was too ill to look after them for 2 weeks.

I am acutely aware that xH (who got the house and got to keep his job, while I had to give up mine and relocate to accommodate the share...long story) has me trapped here in a particular part of London for the next 12 or so years.

I will have to live close to him and to the school he has chosen for the kids (he has already told me their school, an expensive one, will NOT change until they are 16. I am not allowed to argue with this) if I want to maintain term time residence. Taking his calls about uniform and school notes. Undermining and competing with me, frequently (he has to be the 'better parent' and has told me many times that my depression disqualifies me from being a good mum and that his nanny, who has the kids in the week from 8am-7pm, is a better parent than me.)

I also hate this feeling that my children are having to live like little parcels, carrying bags back and forth, losing things all the time. I would not have liked to grow up like that.

My split was not amicable and I feel that he imposed the solution he wanted rather than trying to co-parent in a way that would work for us both. I didn't want 6 days a week or to reduce him to every other weekend. He in fact went to court to try and reduce me to every other weekend when we split, and I managed to fight it down to 50:50.

That being said, it is what my kids know. I have concerns that my 4 yo has been damaged by being parcelled around from age 20 months but who knows. I can only try to make their time with me as good as I can. They adore him and I would never wish to take them away from him. I only wish that he would offer me some flexibility, that there had been any respect for me as a human being involved in the split rather than just an exercise of control.

I worry very much for women in my situation as I think shared residence orders in non-amicable situations tend to come off worse for the woman. Women undoubtedly suffer more from losing custody and society is not very accepting of their problems. Whereas a man is a 'superdad' (although I take on board what Truculent says about men's jobs failing to provide the flexibility that is needed: a problem to which my rich ex responded by hiring wraparound care for 'his' days.)

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