I spent a lovely day at the spa this week with my mum, relaxing, enjoying a massage and having a good old catch-up. My husband had the day off and had encouraged me to go and enjoy the day. So off I went.
‘How is M (husband)?’ asked my mum, ‘is he ready for his day with the children?’, ‘he’ll need a lie in tomorrow….’. These comments got me thinking about the stereotypes we create for ourselves – why is it that someone can ask those questions about a man looking after his children for the day, but wouldn’t dream of asking the same thing about a mother? Did I ever get asked those questions when my husband has had a night out or been working away? Absolutely not!
It’s the same with the term ‘babysitting’ when used frequently for men looking after their children. Fathers DO NOT babysit their children – they are carrying out their fatherly duties in much the same way that mothers do!
As you can see this is something that really gets me annoyed. And I know it annoys my husband too. When he has been out and about on his own with one or two of our children, he gets so much more attention and chatting from strangers than I would or when we are together. And he inevitably gets the ‘how are you coping?’ questions. I also know he sometimes feels he needs to prove he is just as capable (but he will deny that!), and that is because society has created this attitude. So why do we feel this is OK?
I have a couple of friends whose husbands are stay at home fathers as their wives earn more, and recently I watched a programme where a contestant was a stay at home father and the narrators made such a song and dance about repeatedly mentioning it, saying how it had changed his personality and impacted his life (none of this came from him at all, this was assumptions the producers had made). As a society, I think we are moving in the right direction, but we do really need to be more mindful about stereotyping people, and providing people the opportunity to be equal.
Rant over 🙂