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What can be done to get fathers more equally involved in childcare?

(207 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Mar-13 11:34:07

Hello there

Maria Miller, the Minister for Women and Equalities, has asked us what MNers think could be done to encourage fathers to be more equally involved in childcare and education.  

As you might know, the government proposes to change the way that parental leave works - after the first six weeks, working families can now choose which parent uses a 'joint' parental leave allowance.  They can split it between both parents either consecutively or concurrently, or choose to have either the father or the mother stay at home exclusively, for the duration of the leave.

What do you think? Will shared parental leave have an effect on how families divide childcare? And what else could help to encourage fathers to become more involved in caring for their children?  What about education - are fathers as involved as they could be? Please do tell us your thoughts - and any great ideas you might have - here on the thread.

exoticfruits Thu 21-Mar-13 19:29:33

I wonder why work places can't 'think outside the box' -they are working hours that used to be be suitable 100 years or so ago and are not suitable in modern life. Flexibility is the key. It isn't only families with children that would welcome it-it would benefit all.
On just a small point, my son works for a company where they are all outdoor enthusiasts and so they work hard all through the week, with very short breaks and then they finish at 2pm on a Friday which gives them plenty of time to head off to the hills etc. They are no less productive and at least they are refreshed on a Monday morning. I'm sure that it is perfectly possible to sort something out that suits other scenarios.

Saundy Fri 22-Mar-13 08:36:04

I think the qualifying week for APL should be 15 weeks before HIS leave would start.

I also think its unfair that there is nothing similar to MA for men.

My partner works in the food service industry which is (like many) going through a tough time. We've just fund out that his job is in danger. We had planned to share maternity leave but if he is forced into another job, or worse finds himself unemployed, it will mean that we can no longer share our leave as planned.

I will likely be forced to take all the leave if he finds himself no longer eligible, I am the main earner though so this makes no sense. Or is he loses his job he wont be entitled to the MA I would have been had I lost mine, we will again be financially worse off. There is not enough flexibility in the system.

Xenia Fri 22-Mar-13 09:05:12

On working hours they are much much shorter though than they were. Go back to the million of our ancestors who were servants circa 1880 and they might get one afternoon off a month and start at 6am and end at 10 with perhaps a short break in the afternoon. Go back to 1960 and most people worked a 6 day week, many with just Sunday off. I am not sure working hours are worse today.

The issue for many women is who is going to be the mug in this home - do cleaning an d childcare for no appreciation and kill your career to pieces or let your husband or someone you pay do it for you and have a nice life.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Mar-13 10:43:06

Working hours were very different dependent on you place in society. The servants used to work all hours and they now get proper meal breaks, holidays etc. Teachers had it much easier in 1960s and had all their holidays, weekend, evenings free if they wished or unless it was a busy time like report writing. Even reports were easier- they could be brutally honest and get away with a few words e.g 'could do better'. My father had a highish up job, he worked regular hours and was always home by 6 without bringing it home. If he had an evening meeting he was home for a meal first.

I am really happy that I was the one having the lovely life at home, seeing my children, working part time, reading books, following interests and volunteering in the community- and all without having to wait until I get to 65yrs. If you call that being a mug then I was very happy to be it, rather than my DH who was 4 hours a day in the car, if lucky and no traffic hold ups, and had a treadmill of commute, office, commute, children already in bed, eat, flake out shattered, and start again.
My full time work has been- in school by 7.30am- teach all day - lucky to get to the loo if on playground duty, grab 20 mins for lunch- stay at school until 5.30 if no meetings that take longer - come home and cook (DH can't unless we wanted to eat really late as not back from work) eat. Do school work - go to bed. Same again. One day of the weekend working on school work. Before you say 'you are a mug being a teacher' - I will say that I love being in the classroom- it is my ideal job- without the workload. I wouldn't want to be a Head, a completely different job. I much preferred a job share which gave me back evenings and weekends and time to read etc.
Yesterday I did 3 history work shops with 8/9 year olds.Had a lovely time- no planning because I had done it before- got to interact with the children. It wasn't boring because different personalities of the children made each one different- and different to the last ones I did. I started at 10am, had a lunch break and finished at 2.30pm. No follow up, record keeping or marking. Stimulating day- school staff said they enjoyed it.

I can't see why this is a mug. I should say that DH has now changed his job and works from home and so had done the ironing and DS was taking his turn to cook the meal I sat down and read the paper.

I don't see anything mug like about it.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Mar-13 13:38:07

I also get exasperated by the thought that SAHM are forced into the position by a sexist DH and that they spend the day cleaning.

The first time I was a widow and it was the advantageous part - the decision to not work until DS went to school.

The second time I was a 38yr old woman, who had got my life back on track, had had a lovely productive time at home- being a treasurer for an organisation, among other things- and I was back in teaching.
I had an 8 yr old who was well behaved and very used to adult company. I can't see why I would have wanted to go back to nappies, sleepless nights etc if I didn't enjoy life with small children. I had done 'the career' and done 'motherhood' and knew which I wanted to have another go at.
You are not stuck at home! In fact it is the only time I have had a cleaner. I was chair of the pre school, responsible for hiring staff, the daily running etc. I was on the committee of a charity as a fund raiser-could take them swimming once a week, when the pool was quiet, set up a little business with a friend and generally have time to devote to the children.
I then went back to work part time. I had to do a refresher course but it was free and easy enough to get back. At times I have done full time.
It isn't so good on the pension front but I am not missing life for the sake of the pension. My father was going to do so much when he retired, go sailing, paint water colours etc and he dropped dead long before that - so I am doing it as I go along instead of ....'one day'.

It wouldn't suit a lot of people, I wouldn't expect it to and I count myself incredibly, incredibly, lucky to have managed it. The one thing I am not is a mug.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Mar-13 13:42:14

It is a shame that we are channelled into a narrow tunnel vision on the world of work and can't have more creative thinking and flexibility.

exoticfruits Fri 22-Mar-13 17:55:14

The other thing is that you have to take into account age of the parents- and more and more parents are older.
Of course I would have gone back to work if I was 21/22yrs old - I wouldn't be established - I also wasn't ready for a baby. I would be horrified if my DSs became fathers before they were, at the very least 26yrs- preferably over 30yrs (I would be equally horrified if I had DDs, except that as they are more mature earlier and under 30 would be OK) They need to establish careers and live a bit.
A child changes and disrupts your life for ever- you need to be ready.
When you are 38/40 when you had your babies it is very patronising for those who had them in their 20s to tell you what you should do- you started work when they were toddlers! Unless you have a toy boy, your DP is likely to be the same age. Either you have been married long enough to know whether he is any good as father material or you have met him in later life and he may have been married - at the very least he has been living away from his mother for at least 15yrs ( if he was living with his mother when you met him don't take it further!). You are both established in careers, you know where you want to go and you can discuss if you want a child and how you will work it. Why a 40yr old would be at home, spending life doing housework without appreciation,- while 'Sunny-Jim' does his own thing- beats me! If they are at home you can be sure they chose it as a perfectly feasible choice. Or maybe DH chooses to be at home. And the money side is sorted.
With tuition fees and house prices and child care costs I doubt whether people can afford to have DCs at the start of their careers. I have never felt old as a parent - I am not alone by any means and not the oldest.

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