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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Mums mums mums. What about Dads?

53 replies

Msfickle · 03/04/2012 22:16

Seems to me that society is just a bit obsessed with motherhood as opposed to parenthood.

I'm pregnant with our first child and am going straight back to work (I'm the high earner) while my husband gives up work to be a sahd.

People can't get their head around it though. It's as if people think I'm some kind of weird alien. Is it only mothers that can nurture babies?

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FirstLastEverything · 03/04/2012 22:22

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WidowWadman · 03/04/2012 22:35

It's annoying though - I hated it when I was pregnant that it seemed to a lot of people only to be about me - I was getting bored witless with being dragged around baby shopping, and at the same time my husband was being ignored and not really asked how he was feeling about it.

When I was put at risk of redundancy in my first pregnancy, which was very stressful to me, I've heard such gems as "Oh, but maybe you just don't want to work anymore when you've had the baby, so it's not that bad".

Yeah, it's the woman who's pregnant, and if she chooses to breastfeed, it's her who does it. But without an involved father that's much harder than if you've got his support.

At the same time it grates that SAHD's get special mentions and flowers, fathers who share responsibilities equally get special mentions and comments about how "well trained" they are, while a mother can do whatever she chooses and will always get stick for it.

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Dustinthewind · 03/04/2012 22:39

I did the same OP, had four months off, had a SAHP and expressed milk, and fed when I was there. Yes, I was a weird alien and it needed repeating several times to many incredulous women who thought it was odd. This was 21 years ago.
I'm sorry the situation hasn't improved for you.

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Msfickle · 03/04/2012 22:42

I'm not breast feeding - largely because I have to go back to work. Ill be taking a few weeks off yes. To be honest I'm fine with it. I'm really excited to be a mum and I know I'll still be really involved but I just don't see why all the focus has to be on the mother when in actual fact there are two parents.

I run a business and when I'm taking on new clients I get that 'well you don't want to get too busy' thing. Whyever not if I have a super amazing man at home who is going to take on the bulk of the parenting?

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AbigailAdams · 03/04/2012 22:44

But he isn't super amazing. He is a parent and just doing what thousands of women all over the country are doing.

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Msfickle · 03/04/2012 22:45

...and don't even get me started on the subject of baby showers! Why the hell do I want one of those? Some naff American tradition where usually very intelligent women sit around playing inane games! It's the childless women who are forced to come to these things I feel really sorry for. Yet men as you day (perhaps fortunately) get overlooked in this particular tradition too!

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Msfickle · 03/04/2012 22:46

Yes Abigail you are right. Nothing amazing about it - just a parent like any other

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DoomCatsofCognitiveDissonance · 03/04/2012 23:07

This is maybe slightly off-topic ... but a friend has an explanation of baby showers that might interest you? She points out that they come from a culture where the community does rally round to look after the mother, the advantage of which is that mothers with better support systems have greatly reduced rates of postnatal depression. I can see that, for us Brits, it seems an odd tradition - but maybe look at it the other way, not as something that's just materialistic, but as a sign of women's support for other women?

I don't have children yet, but my DH's dad was the SAH parent for most of his childhood and he very much wants to play that role while I (at the moment) hope I'll be able to stay working. So I will have all this stuff to look forward to!

I think that in order to change the view that mothers are the 'primary' parent (which is so bad for both mothers and fathers), society as a whole has to change and get rid of the idea that there are clear and fixed differences between what men and women can do.

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Dustinthewind · 03/04/2012 23:13

'But he isn't super amazing. He is a parent and just doing what thousands of women all over the country are doing.'

Exactly, and that's what I said at the time. No baby showers, they weren't the fashion way back when.

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Msfickle · 03/04/2012 23:14

That's a bloody good point tbh. That is one of the fundamental problems. If a child misbehaves in public people always look to blame the mother first - its like men get off Scott free. Infuriating.

As for baby showers - whilst that may be the case in the US it certainly wouldn't be the case here. Half the women rounded up to attend these things won't be part of any post natal support groups. I know exactly who I need to look to for support post birth and no cake and balloon fuelled tea party is really going to change that.

Sorry for the ranting but it's been burning up inside me. Just feel so unbelievably alone - like I'm some terrible parent for doing things 'the wrong way around'

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DoomCatsofCognitiveDissonance · 03/04/2012 23:21

You're certainly not a terrible parent.

But you are wrong about showers. Since I learned how they could work, I've arranged one for a mate over here, and it was great. If you don't like a tradition - change it.

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togarama · 04/04/2012 00:10

"Seems to me that society is just a bit obsessed with motherhood as opposed to parenthood."

I think society is obsessed with an unhealthy idea of motherhood where mothers only exist in the context of their children, and their thoughts, actions and (especially) consumer behaviour are meant to be channelled into mum-stuff or kid-stuff. I don't think dads get the same pressure to conform to a stereotype.

In real life, whether working or staying at home with kids, most of us want to continue to exist as individual human beings too and doing so makes us both happier and better role models for our children. You just have to do what works for you as a person and a family so make sure that your children are practically and emotionally supported.

While I completely love my DD and being her mother, I have no real personal understanding of motherhood in the abstract. I only understand looking after my child and setting her a good example.

This doesn't require me to buy lots of unnecessary baby and child paraphernalia, attend baby-showers or focus every moment of my waking attention on her. It does require constant awareness of her needs and a change in prioritisation of my time so that I can meet them. Yes, all of this should be equally true for dads but I don't observe the same social pressure to make it so.

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scottishmummy · 04/04/2012 00:24

it's a flawed logic that female automatically gives stuff up to be mum
it's the ole pg confers goddess status and a goddess remains at home being maternal and ethereal, naturally the female pursuit of career is seen as vulgar or avaricious. not so maintenance of make career though.


if your arrangements suit,proceed with them
best wishes when baby arrives,and practise your best serene face when you encounter the precious moments mamas. you'll need it when you meet them

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Msfickle · 04/04/2012 07:37

What a refreshing conversation and so good to finally meet some like minded individuals. You've all given me just a little more strength and determination to do things my own way. It's certainly not easy though when the eyes of the world look at you just a little bit suspiciously as of you're some awful selfish person who doesn't care for your own child. Being an individual, having a career and being a good mother are not mutually exclusive!

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lilbreeze · 04/04/2012 08:58

The thing is, men on average still earn more than women which is one reason that financially it often makes sense for the woman to stay at home.

Personally my ideal scenario (within the existing maternity/paternity rules in the UK) would have been for me to take the 12-month maternity leave (largely due to breastfeeding) but then for me and dh to work 4 days each and spend one weekday each doing childcare.

Unfortunately due to dh's much higher salary and more demanding job, that wasn't possible so dh works full time and I work 3 days which has definitely upset the previously equal nature of our relationship.

I do know of 3 couples who either split the childcare equally and both work part time or where the man does the bulk of the childcare, but in all 3 cases the man is not the main earner.

Anyway, not sure what I'm trying to say here Blush - just musing...

Ps. The reason for the salary disparity between dh and me is not actually gender in any way - his family are just much more ambitious career-wise so he and his siblings are all higher earners than their partners.

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CatitaInaHatita · 04/04/2012 15:17

I understand completely what you are saying. Where I live there is only 12 weeks incapacity in total for a pregnant working woman (6 weeks prior, 6 weeks after). For financial reasons neither me nor my DH gave up work. I breastfed for 6 weeks and expressed and expressed afterwards and bfed as and when. I'm saying this because, just because you are going straight back to work doesn't men's you have to forgo the bf entirely (unless you really don't want to). And it certainly doesn't mean you or your DH are weird. I think the attitudes you encounter just illustrate how women and men are forced to inhabit a by designed for them by society and not conforming is frowned upon and policed by negative comments, criticisms and "jokes". I think if you expect this kind of reaction, you are less likely to be phased by it.
I also think that you ought to bear in mind that if the tables were reversed and you found yourself a SAHM you would soon have a list as long as your arm about how you are stereotyped, criticised and got at for your choice. I think you are not able to win, sorry.
There is a funny website somewhere, which has no revelance to this comment at all, except that it is called "Sorry, my fault I'm a woman". To me it sums up the no win situation in which you will find yourself, whatever parenthood choices you and your DH take.

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CatitaInaHatita · 04/04/2012 15:18

men's = mean
by = box

Sorry.

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BlingLoving · 04/04/2012 15:41

Oh, this is refreshing. Normally on a thread like this, there's half a dozen people coming on saying, "oh, wait until you've had the baby, you'll feel differently then..." and then the OP gets increasingly frsutrated as no one listens to her [you can tell I've been the OP right? Grin ]

Seriously, you're so right. It's not just mothers who feel intense love for their children. DH would have given anything to have had more than just the two weeks statutory paternity leave when DS was born. it was hard for him to leave every morning. And he was tired too because he was sharing a lot of the load with me even though I was still bf at that point.

Now, DH is a SAHD and I'm back at work and I never ceased to be surprised at how many people are surprised I've come back to work ft. DH also gets irritated with the regular comments from people like, "Oh, you're so good to be looking after DS like this," and has started saying "Not really. No more than any of the women I meet who are SAHM. Bling and I wanted him to have a full time parent and Bling earns the money, so it makes sense for me to do it." Sadly, he says that people just look at him like he's an alien for not being dazzled by his own brilliance.

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InmaculadaConcepcion · 04/04/2012 18:41

I wish there wasn't this automatic assumption that the mother will always be the primary carer for children born of a man/woman union.

If our culture could accept that either parent might wish or need to be the primary carer, perhaps some of the discrimination against women of childbearing age in the workforce might be dissipated.

Sure, women need to take time off to give birth and recover from that process (not to mention some baby bonding/feeding time) but it would be refreshing if employers didn't view women as potentially problematic employees because of their possible childcare commitments - or at least, regarded men as equally problematic (such that it simply became an accepted situation, regardless of the employee's gender).

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scottishmummy · 04/04/2012 18:55

unfortunately it's an ongoing sexist cliche women are naturally more nurturing,better with kids. I read stuff on mn mums epwho don't think dad can do good parenting,al the giggle giggle aren't dads daft

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Msfickle · 04/04/2012 19:07

As of my magic the Evening Standard is carrying a feature tonight about SAHD's and how Sweden is setting the example - those forward thinking scandos do it again.

And thank you for the note about bf and the fact that it could work. It's the first time I've felt open to considering it rather than feeling attacked for it!

And so so true about women being discriminated in the workplace. I'm up for a piece of new business at the moment and I'm dreading telling them I'm pregnant even though I know I'm capable of fulfilling the contract. So bloody frustrating!

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catgirl1976 · 04/04/2012 19:12

Your not alone. It's pretty common.

I think the people banging on about how hard it is or looking to show it as unusual(because they feel alone, because people can't get their heads around it, because it makes them a weird alien etc) are really not helping and are reinforcing the traditional sterotype.

You aren't doing anything exceptional or mould breaking. Don't let others act like you are but certainly don't act like you are yourself.

Good lick with the baby and congratulations

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scottishmummy · 04/04/2012 19:17

yes just get on with it,don't expect plaudits.you won't get any
you'll quickly meet like minded folk,and stick with them
you'll learn how to spot and avoid a precious moment mama
and you both need to toughen up to comments and the face

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catgirl1976 · 04/04/2012 19:19

Good luck - sorry [GRIN]

I am not suggesting you lick your baby however scrumptious he / she no doubt will be :)

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NoMoreInsomnia12 · 04/04/2012 19:26

Turning it round, I think this also badly affects SAHDs or men who want to work part time even. It's often much harder for a man to go part time in their job or to take extended leave, or to stay at home as there are not the same support networks.

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