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Why is it OK for dads to work fulltime, but less acceptable for mums to do it?

(252 Posts)
hunkermunker Wed 28-Sep-05 13:01:41

That's it really. Just pondering it. I work four days a week (three weekdays, one weekend day).

And I've had surprised looks from people that I'm working so much. But I like my job, DS is happy with his grandparents for three days a week and his dad for the other.

And I was just wondering why people don't think it's odd that dads often don't take much time off after their baby's born (two weeks isn't much!) and then work five days a week. Nobody says to DH, "Aw, you must miss your DS" like they do to me - so why is this?

I don't want a debate about WOHM and SAHM - I know there are people who couldn't do whichever one they're not and have read all that before. I just wondered about the mum/dad working thing.

ninah Wed 28-Sep-05 13:04:48

Is it? haven't had this reaction tbh

CarolinaMoon Wed 28-Sep-05 13:05:06

just what everyone's used to, I s'pose. Agree it's not v nice for dads to be expected not to miss their babies - DP is always telling me how much he misses ds during the day (awww!).

Your job sounds nice and flexible though.

spacedonkey Wed 28-Sep-05 13:06:17

There are still a lot of sexist attitudes lurking about. This is one example!

hunkermunker Wed 28-Sep-05 13:07:23

Yes, my job's lovely

SD, agree - I guess it's part of the same attitude that makes people ask if DH is babysitting DH when I'm at work at the weekend...!

bran Wed 28-Sep-05 13:09:23

Do you live in an area with lots of older people HM? I don't hear any comments at all where I am (except from the social workers who seem to think that I shouldn't go back to work as we have enough money for me to stay at home). Around here I would say that only about 30% of the women that I know don't go back to work, and there are also quite a few SAHDs. The general opinion is that everyone does what's best for them and their family.

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:11:07

I think that rightly or wrongly it has to do with peoples perception of the mothering instinct.
There are women who i work with who are full time and put in extra hours for meetings and courses etc and have children. This just puzzles me.
For one, i was expected to do the same, i wont because i do not want to be away from my child and i couldnt understand why they would want to purposefully be away from thier children to be at work.
Speaking to some of them, bieng at home with children just isnt thier thing which is fair comment.
Since ds came along, my whole outlook has changed and i must asmit to raising an eye when hearing of some one putting in loads of hours if financially they dont need to.
I cant explain this.

hunkermunker Wed 28-Sep-05 13:12:04

I suppose there are quite a few, Bran - and I do know lots of other women who go to work, but also lots who don't. It's not the older people who've really expressed this attitude, it's been some of the SAHMs I know. But they don't bat an eyelid when their DHs go out to work fulltime - so I just wondered why the difference?

motherinferior Wed 28-Sep-05 13:13:03

Fathers simply aren't expected to spend that much time with their kids. I know FathersDirect (Tom's lot) goes on about how much time they do and how much they'd like to, but in fact - by FD's own admitted stats - they don't. And it goes round, and round, and round.

Caligula Wed 28-Sep-05 13:13:07

Because that's the way it's always been, so people expect it.

There'll be less comment as and when more men start to do flexible hours, part time, SAHD roles, and it becomes mroe the norm.

motherinferior Wed 28-Sep-05 13:14:30

And when blokes (like FathersDirect) stop going on about how it's so dreadful that they can't work child-friendly hours without losing out on promotion and prospects and just do it.

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:14:33

I recently had a conversation with a woman at work who was complaining that the nursery attached to our work doesnt cater for the "late shift" (1pm~9pm).
She was adamant that this was not child friendly.
I had to argue that i strongly disagreed that any child should be any where other than tucked up warmly in thier bed by 9pm, and that she was bieng unreasonable. She said that she wanted to work these shifts but was unable to due to a lack of childcare facilities after 6pm.

motherinferior Wed 28-Sep-05 13:15:35

But the much-vaunted 24-hour economy demands that some people work those shifts, Donbean. Nurses and midwives have always worked them.

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:16:25

Dont you think that it is not right that a small child should be out at that time of night though?

spacedonkey Wed 28-Sep-05 13:17:39

It's not ideal, but some parents have no choice about working shifts.

Caligula Wed 28-Sep-05 13:17:45

Quite MI. I feel pissed off that I have to work in a job way below my skills level and earning potential just to see my kids, but I've er... got on with it and done it, not carried on doing the job I did before and whinging on about how I'd like to downshift, without actually bothering to do so.

When whole industry sectors start to lose good workers because they won't allow them to function as good parents as well as good workers, then they'll change their practices. As long as they're only losing the women, they haven't got a big enough incentive to change.

hunkermunker Wed 28-Sep-05 13:18:26

I used to work late shifts (1.30 till 11.30pm) and wouldn't have expected DS to be in nursery those hours!

Would depend how they did it though and also on the child - if they did a bedtime routine and it was possible to transfer the sleeping child from nursery to car to bed easily, fair enough. With DS, that just wouldn't work though. I would think for most children, this wouldn't be feasible.

compo Wed 28-Sep-05 13:19:20

I think people ask this if both parents are full time. But nowadays most people don't question if a dad stays at home while the mum works full time in my experience

Caligula Wed 28-Sep-05 13:19:20

Most people who work shifts, if the childcare is not done by a partner, choose home-based childcare though, precisely because they don't want their kids out at 11pm or whatever. And because there have never been nurseries that have catered for that.

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:19:45

I would rather spend my 24 hours with my child.
I work because i have to financially.
Part time as little hours as i can possibly afford.
Financially, if it came down to it, i am the greater wage earner of dh and me so it would make sense for dh to give up work, i just couldnt do this though, i couldnt.

motherinferior Wed 28-Sep-05 13:21:15

I'm just saying some parents do not have a choice. No, I wouldn't want my own children out then. But then I have a partner and I work reasonably child-friendly hours (enabling him to work non child friendly hours, as it happens, and to go away for six days as he has at the moment. Which some of the time annoys me).

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:23:47

I did like my job and worked very hard to get to where i now am, but i would give it up tomorow.
Thats not to say that is my opinion of all working people BTW!
It doesnt mean the same any more. Pre ds it wouldnt have crossed my mind if a man was home full time and women at work, i work with lots of people who have chosen this route, it works great and every one is happy.

hunkermunker Wed 28-Sep-05 13:24:01

Well, if I did eight hours more, I'd be working a 40-hour week. DH does the same, so he's not a SAHD.

motherinferior Wed 28-Sep-05 13:24:04

There are quite a few mothers around, on MN and elsewhere, who find themselves having to do late evenings in the office. I think all the ones I know have nannies or similar arrangements; but they do enjoy their work. And there are a lot more fathers.

Donbean Wed 28-Sep-05 13:27:24

In contrast HM, i get a knowing and accepted smile and a nod when they ask how many hours i work, as if to say "ah, thats alright then"!
i work 20 hours over 2 days.
I wonder what the response would be if i said that i work 60 hours?
Intersting, out of curiosity i may do that!

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