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More women have to accept they can't be the default primary carer?

(147 Posts)
Babycham1979 Wed 26-Nov-14 17:34:30

Inspired by another thread, I'd like to ask others what you think about the myth (as I see it) that women can 'have it all'.

I know many educated, professional women who have still insisted on being their children's primary carer as soon as they're born. The fathers' preference has always come second and they invariably end-up acting as the primary earner (often against their wishes).

It seems as if many women are asking for the impossible in expecting to fill very senior positions in business and politics, but simultaneously assuming motherhood to have primacy over fatherhood.

Parental leave is almost equally available now; women out-earn men up until child-bearing age (29); and more girls are graduating (esp in law and medicine) than men. Now is surely the time for the sisterhood to actively encourage men to be the primary carers of their children? At least half the guys and dads that I know would love this option, yet it's not been made available to any of them.

Are we really saying that women can do anything in the public sphere as well as men, but men can't parent as well as women? Either we're equal or we're not.

Only when we have real parity at home can we have parity in the workplace, no?

ReputableBiscuit Wed 26-Nov-14 17:36:35

Are you writing an article?

Babycham1979 Wed 26-Nov-14 17:37:37

No, it's something I've thought about for a long time though.

Why? Don't you think it's interesting?

Coco0123 Wed 26-Nov-14 17:38:43

But how many women would be completely happy to not be the primary carer?

MammaTJ Wed 26-Nov-14 17:40:42

I'm not my kids primary carer! My DP explained at work and cut his hours very slightly. They have been great and so is he.

I was telling colleagues at work, mostly female and they were telling me they didn't like to relinquish control!

Each to their own!

lemisscared Wed 26-Nov-14 17:41:09

For personal reasons i have been a sahm. However we most definitely would have liked dp to have been a sahd. The harsh reality being that despite having graduated with a phd i couldn't earn anywhere near dp's wage and he is not a high earner by any means.

crocodilesarevicious Wed 26-Nov-14 17:42:51

I agree with the OP and think that it raises some very interesting points.

It isn't, by and large, being female that is a disadvantage - at least in western civilisations - but the presence of children.

It is expected to an extent by society that women will be the primary carers of these children, but more pertinently women expect this of themselves too. I know numerous families where the man could work part time, or not at all, but doesn't. Why? It could be they don't want to, but I also think in many cases the woman doesn't want them to.

anothernumberone Wed 26-Nov-14 17:43:00

I have a successful career, primary earner although not by a huge amount but that is set to change due to progression and I took all the leave for our children. What makes it work is that DH does his fair share. We both work very hard and it can be difficult but it is possible.

ShowMeTheWonder Wed 26-Nov-14 17:43:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DreamsOfFreddieInTheNight Wed 26-Nov-14 17:46:01

You say accept it- like we are all wanting that. I would much prefer care to be more fairly shared. In our house it is.

lemisscared Wed 26-Nov-14 17:46:55

We are programmed to do this though. It wont change anytime soon

alittlebitbockety Wed 26-Nov-14 17:47:11

I am not the primary carer in my family. This often makes me sad. However I am also proud to support my family and dh is giving our son a great childhood as a sahd. So YANBU

lemisscared Wed 26-Nov-14 17:47:50

I dont think the op is describing maternity leave though.

lemisscared Wed 26-Nov-14 17:48:54

But this is where paternity leave comes in. Woman gets first 9 months then the man takes his....

GoodKingQuintless Wed 26-Nov-14 17:49:37

Great. Another thing women shouldn't do. Now even motherhood should be off limits.

You must feel very clever, op.

Purplepoodle Wed 26-Nov-14 17:50:37

My oh was the sahd for 3 years. It was great but it wasn't for him, he felt he was going a bit loopy being at home with DS so went back to work

WhereTheWildlingsAre Wed 26-Nov-14 17:54:05

I am also the only earner in our famil and by DH is the primary carer.

I don't think it is so something that women 'shouldn't do' as GoodKing put it. I do think it's something that each family should work out what works best for them. Seems reasonable to me.

ShowMeTheWonder Wed 26-Nov-14 17:54:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Nov-14 17:56:53

I am the primary carer in our house as dh works so obviously I have been the main care provider.
When he isn't at work he is the main care provider or we share.
I wouldn't have wanted anybody else to be main care provider tbh.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Wed 26-Nov-14 17:58:38

Women will always be the default primary carers because they're biologically superior to men in terms of parenting due to the ability to breastfeed.

Got99problems Wed 26-Nov-14 18:00:07

I know what you mean - in the past me and DH have parented roughly 50/50, but I have still identified as the primary carer and taken the lead on big parenting issues. However I think whilst pregnancy and breastfeeding fall solely on women it would be hard to change the mindset that mothering is the primary parenting role.

Tigercake Wed 26-Nov-14 18:08:49

DH has at times been the primary carer of our children. It was me they cried for, not him. Mothers and fathers are not the same thing and do not fulfill the same function.

I agree women cannot have it all. If you split childcare between you, my experience is that both your careers are noticeably impacted and stagnate to some degree. Worst of both worlds if you like, plus not great for your marriage if you are constantly talking about the daily shit as handing over.

There is no utopia. Having children disadvantages at least one of you in the workplace. It is the hidden cost.

ShowMeTheWonder Wed 26-Nov-14 18:11:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lemisscared Wed 26-Nov-14 18:17:23

Showmethewonder - i think that is how it should be too.

maggiethemagpie Wed 26-Nov-14 18:22:50

I'm not the primary carer and i'm more than happy with that. Maternity leave was boring enough - now I work hard in a full-on job and my partner is a SAHD.

I have a number of female friends who've had to give up their career when they had babies as it was assumed they would be the ones to do this.

I sometimes think I am living the feminist dream!

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