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I am starting to see a shift in parental responsibilities, I think....

(25 Posts)
ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 25-Mar-14 11:43:08

My male colleague just had a real oh shit moment, he is in a typical dual income family with one child,
"I just heard from nursery my son is sick and my wife is away on business"

We have a really key meeting with clients tomorrow that he absolutely HAS to be in. But the child comes first.

I don't wish the problem on anyone and I feel for him as I've been there myself but there is something kind of comforting in the fact that I feel like I am hearing men having this problem so much more often. I can think of 4 incidences since Christmas when pretty key meetings had to be shifted or done by phone etc because a parent wasn't able to make it dual to sick children, and in 3 cases it was a father.

Doubtfuldaphne Tue 25-Mar-14 11:50:21

my dh had to have a meeting this week with his boss as he had taken a few days off to look after our dd while i was really unwell. Their first question was 'does your wife work'?
I think theyre fed up with people having to put their children first, which is tough as they always will!

rpitchfo Tue 25-Mar-14 12:01:18

definitely, i'm a man (who works in a female dominated sector) and i've had to take some time off since DS was born (at most 4 days in 10 months. and recently i've been told by my line manager to "keep an eye on it, it doesn't look good". Interestingly this is the same manager who was all smiles and telling me great stories of how flexible they would be when the baby came.

I can see how it's frustrating.

EEatingSoupForLunch Tue 25-Mar-14 15:56:30

My DH had to take last week off as I was too ill to look after DCs. It's nearly always been me to take time when DCs have been ill, even though I am considerably more senior, just because as a woman I don't get the confused faces. It is frustrating, incredibly so.

Hassled Tue 25-Mar-14 16:02:53

That's good to hear - not that your colleague has sick kids, but that the tide is turning a bit.

I was thinking about this recently - I have a female colleague with young DCs who seem to be getting every bug going. And she's in a tizz because the days off are mounting up - I want to say "but what about your husband taking time off?", but that must have occurred to her. It's clearly all down to her.

notnowbernard Tue 25-Mar-14 16:07:05

DP and I take it in turns.

With 3 young DC there's going to be illness...

He's just getting his head round the idea that this is a fair and reasonable way of doing things wink

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 25-Mar-14 16:11:17

I am annoyed, DHs employer used to be very reasonable but a few key people have changed and they are less so now.

So frustrating.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 25-Mar-14 16:11:48

I do think that the more senior you are the less of a problem it is.

DH had to take a day off a couple of weeks ago because I was completely floored with a virus - couldn't walk downstairs never mind drive or look after a toddler.
His work didn't bat an eyelid.

duchesse Tue 25-Mar-14 16:13:14

OP- did it seem to be a penny-dropping moment for him? That's the important point. Maybe it's the first time he's been faced with the notion that he is equally as responsible for this human he's created as his wife is.

HazleNutt Tue 25-Mar-14 16:19:11

Is there is much of a shift in this particular case? He only does the childcare because the wife is away - otherwise she would be the one taking the time off I would guess, if it's such a surprise to him.

TwittyMcTwitterson Tue 25-Mar-14 16:23:53

We both work and although DDs dad is pretty quick to hand over responsibility to me for a lot of stuff, he insists he works from home and we split times she has been ill or times CM has had her holidays grin

My boss, a dad, takes time off with his DD sometimes, even though his wife is a SAHM and when DD is sick thinks her dad should be equal rather than all me (though that could be because he's my boss and not her dads) shock

TwittyMcTwitterson Tue 25-Mar-14 16:28:43

That's me being overly harsh. DDs DF has recently agreed to looking after DD so that I can go to the gym three times a week. He will however, be doing this while she's sleeping so I'm not sure it counts. shock

BlessedAssurance Tue 25-Mar-14 16:39:23

Very normal in Norway. All full time employees get 12 days off work to take care of sick kids. The majority of men do stay at home to take care of their children when sick and in our home it is normally Dh who gets to be home if our Dd is sick.

bigkidsdidit Tue 25-Mar-14 17:00:31

I've noticed this too. Both my work and DH's have seen far more men taking time off. We are both public sector, I don't know if that makes a difference.

newbieman1978 Tue 25-Mar-14 17:10:06

It's great that men are taking a greater role in bringing up their children, I have been more than happy to play a major role in bringing up my son.

What is sad though is that we live in a country where because being a parent had become so devalued and as workers we have become so devalued that a parent (man or woman) can't go out and earn a decent wage in order to keep a family.

I feel that it should be a great aspiration of any developed country that we value our people enough to create a situation where caring for ones children is of high priority.

ThinkAboutItTomorrow Tue 25-Mar-14 17:28:35

It wasn't a particular penny dropped moment for my colleague - he does half the parenting as far as I can tell - drop offs and pick ups etc.

It was more for me - a sudden realisation that more and more it is male voices i am hearing saying this sort of thing - and the 'sorry I ca't start that early, nursery run' or 'I have to leave bang on five to pick up DC'

It feels like it is coinciding with a few articles about how much men don't really want to do 50:50 childcare, which is making me wonder if there is a shift going on. The dinosaur defense of the status quo by rubbishing the idea of change usually coincides with a change to rail against.

I really really hope so.

AskBasil Tue 25-Mar-14 19:24:19

"The dinosaur defense of the status quo by rubbishing the idea of change usually coincides with a change to rail against."

You may be right. I hope you are.

legoplayingmumsunite Tue 25-Mar-14 21:40:12

It can still be harder for men I think. Dh and i both work part time. I don't have a problem getting annual leave at short notice for sick kids but he does get a bit of eyerolling, his boss has a SAHW so he doesn't have to worry about childcare. But my work definitely has more men taking parental leave and working part time so I think the tide is turning.

tallulah Tue 25-Mar-14 21:44:24

My boss is always the one to take time off for his 1 yo DD because his wife had to use up all her Leave at the end of her Maternity Leave. Nobody bats an eyelid.

RandomMess Tue 25-Mar-14 21:45:01

Perhaps the real shift is women are finally insisting that their partners do their share of parenting and housework. Dual incomes are increasingly becoming a necessity. It is good though, long overdue.

JassyRadlett Tue 25-Mar-14 22:40:20

On my team, the parents are pretty much half men and half women. The men do pull their weight at home and frankly is think less of them if they didn't.

The other message it sends, to women, is a useful one: I will admit it pisses me off if it feels like a female member of staff is doing all the emergency childcare while their partner does nothing. It means the burden falls disproportionately on us as a workplace. By seeing that we expect men to have to work flexibly to accommodate their families, I'm hoping it sends a message to women that it is reasonable for their partners to also pull their weight.

EBearhug Tue 25-Mar-14 22:56:38

I think there is a change, and it's partly because it's easier because work can be more flexible - my manager has worked from home a few times when one of his children is ill. He might be less available then normal, but he's doing most of his work. His teacher wife can't work from home if she's meant to be taking lessons. 20 years ago, it simply wasn't possible for many people to work from home, but the internet has changed that for a lot of people. It's still not possible in some roles, but for a lot it is.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Mar-14 23:28:32

Little by little...

( bitter as had to leave a meeting that started 30 mins late then overran, not surprisingly - 4 guys, 2 with young kids who are ALWAYS their wife's responsibility)

whatdoesittake48 Wed 26-Mar-14 11:16:34

I used to work in a male dominated workplace and just once during my 3 years there did I see a man take responsibility for his child. To his credit he left an important meeting immediately when he was informed his son had possibly broken his arm and was being taken to hospital. Any normal parent would do this.

But he was back in the next day - his wife had taken time off work to look after their son....

sleeplessbunny Wed 26-Mar-14 11:24:07

It is good to see men in the office take on more childcare responsibilities, but they are still definitely in the (albeit visible) minority where I work. At DH's work it is even worse and his career has suffered as a result. Basically he is seen as a slacker as he now works part time. He had to fight to get his part-time hours while women working in his department did not. His manager even asked him "why isn't your wife doing the nursery pick-ups?" shock. It makes me sad, but also weirdly grateful that he is willing to go against the grain and do it anyway. These crappy workplace attitudes are certainly a barrier for men who would like to take on an equal childcare role.

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