This blog post has been written specifically for #ThePrompt linky hosted by the Mum Turned Mom blog. On this occasion the following question has been posed; Are women better parents than men? Here is my response. . .
I could get on my high horse and tell you that it’s outrageous to suggest women are better parents than men. I’ll save you that kind of response!
As far as I’m concerned, there is a very simple response to this question. If women are better parents, then men must surely make better business leaders, politicians, academics, surgeons etc.
The only thing is, that last sentence doesn’t make for very comfortable reading, does it? I won’t pretend that women face no issues in the workplace or in public life, but over the past 150 years women have achieved a great deal and proved themselves perfectly capable in all the areas I’ve just mentioned.
That said, when it comes to being a parent, women have two advantages. Firstly, women carry and deliver the baby. Secondly, women have the ability to breastfeed.
In those very early days this is naturally going to lead to mum and baby spending more time with each other and forming a bond more quickly than with dad. From day one, however, the involved father will take turns bottle feeding baby and will have no problems doing so in the middle of the night. He will bathe his child, dress his child, change nappies, take his child out for a walk, play with them and so on. Beyond giving birth and breastfeeding, there is nothing a dad isn’t capable of doing as well as a mother.
Anecdotally, I have noticed that when a woman has a particularly hard birth, the dad often seems to become a capable, hands-on dad very quickly. If mum can’t breastfeed because she’s had a Cesarian section or can’t walk or move easily, dad has to be the one to buy and mix the formula feed. He has to be the one to get up in the middle of the night to soothe the child. It’s a personal observation of mine, but in these situations it seems that he is almost immediately on an equal footing with the child’s mother because she needs time to recover.
I am a stay at home dad with a five year old and a 22 month old. I do pretty much everything society expects a mum to do while my wife works full time in a very demanding job. I get my kids up every morning, I do the school and nursery runs, I cook my children’s evening meals, polish their shoes, shampoo their hair, organise and oversee play dates. You will see my wife’s handwriting in my eldest child’s homework record but the majority of it is mine.
I know the place in the school yard where my child is bought out to by her teacher at the end of the day. I have the telephone number for my youngest daughter’s nursery programmed into my phone. I update the family calendar hanging on the kitchen wall so I know who will be where and when and identify when there will be childcare issues. Why wouldn’t a man be capable of doing this stuff?
I have heard it said that women are naturally more compassionate and more caring by nature. It may be true, but is sounds like a convenient notion to spread so that women can be kept behind the kitchen sink, or rather make women believe childcare is their domain.
I genuinely wish I lived in a society where I wasn’t a curiosity. It would be great if as many men as women gave up careers to look after the children. In some of the Scandinavian countries (where else?) it is quite normal for men to take an entire year out of the workforce when they have young children.
Men and women possibly parent differently. Thinking of my own relationship, I’m more of a risk taker. Play with me is often outside, usually physical and frequently involves getting covered in mud or water. My wife is more likely to do some baking or read books with the kids. I don’t think either is wrong, they’re simply different approaches and my kids love both.
Women’s rights campaigners frequently mention the glass ceilings women hit in the workplace and point out that women’s earnings are less than men’s, especially once they’ve had children. Unfortunately you don’t hear much campaigning for societal change, for it to be the norm for men to stay at home and look after the children. This would help women forge ahead with their careers if it’s what they wanted.
My wife will freely admit she couldn’t do what I do. In her words, “you’re better with the children” and so she thinks her place is in the workforce. I think she’s being hard on herself, but I’m perfectly happy with this scenario. I enjoy running the household and looking after the little ones.
In answer to the question, no women do not better parents than men. There are, of course, bad dads in the world and there are also bad mothers. I just don’t think society gives men the opportunities to prove what great parents they can be. This is simply because the overwhelming responsibility for raising children almost always falls on women and this starts at birth.