A few male celebrities have revealed in recent years that they’re not keen on the dirty tasks when it comes to looking after babies (hello Pharrell Williams, Russell Brand and Spencer Pratt), leaving their baby mamas (and probably helpers) to pick up the slack instead. Is this ever okay though? How can couples share parenting roles equally?
It worked back in the day
For older generations it was simply a given that men didn’t get too involved in raising the children, particularly in the early years. Fathers weren’t even allowed in the delivery room because babies and everything to do with them was a woman’s job. Sexist and sad? Yes, but that’s just how things were back then, most likely because men weren’t around a lot. They were either working as the sole income provider, out in the fields farming, away or killed at war. Women had no choice but to get stuck in and take on the key parenting role, alongside all the other household duties and chores.
Times have changed
That was then though, and now more women work than ever before thanks to feminism, daycare, technology advancements (allowing more to work from home), and the rising acceptance of stay-at-home dads. A lot of men also simply want to be more actively involved in their children’s lives nowadays to help strengthen their bond with them and take the pressure off the mother. There are also a lot more families with same-sex parents now too, so it’s not just about male versus female, but instead who is the more active income provider and who is more hands-on with parenting.
Sharing the load
In an ideal world, sharing the parenting duties equally would be a great way to go about it. Unfortunately, in many cases this isn’t possible – especially when one parent is required to work more than the other for financial reasons, and those who travel or work away for periods at a time. So unless you’re both working part-time or in jobs which allow an equal portion of time at home with the kids, then there will always be one person handling more parenting tasks than the other.
This doesn’t mean that just one of you should be changing the nappies or fixing the bottles though. When both parents are home (such as the early morning or the evening), then there’s no real reason why either of you can’t look after the baby or both of you together. Children will have better relationships with their parents if they’re both actively involved in daily tasks (where possible), and sharing the responsibility will mean less stress all round and an opportunity for couples to bond over their baby.
Divide and conquer
Obviously in the case of singer Pharrell Williams, he’s made it clear from the get-go that he won’t be changing his triplets’ nappies and perhaps his wife is okay with this (he is rich and famous after all and would have a lot of staff to help her out). Whatever their arrangement is, as long as his wife is on board with it, it’s really up to them how they share the load.
A lot of parents do decide to share their parenting responsibilities by splitting up the tasks. For example, if one parent works all day then when they come home it might be their job to run the bath, read stories and tuck the children in bed. Or maybe it’s one parent’s duty to do all the night time feeds while the other does the day, or the 9-to-5 working parent changes all nappies on the weekend. And if you both work full-time, then perhaps it’s about taking turns each morning and night on the different responsibilities.
Creating a balance
When it comes to looking after your baby, the key to creating an even balance between parents is communication. You and your partner need to talk and develop a system that is not only good and works for the family, but that you’re both happy with as well. You might need to trial a few different ways until you find one that clicks, but to avoid resentment and create a happier family all round, it’s worth it in the end.
This story was originally published on April 18, 2017