A TYPICAL ARGUMENT BETWEEN WOMEN
AND MEN ABOUT WHO DOES WHAT AT HOME
father: “I’m a bit rattled about how unloved she can make me feel.
She doesn’t mean to, but she makes me feel incompetent, like a mediocre
parent. She just has a way of correcting what I say and do... I can feel
myself withdrawing and it scares me.”
partner: “I am surprised how often I feel annoyed at him when he’s
parenting our little girl. It’s like he doesn’t get who she really is,
so I try to be helpful and steer him in the right direction. Then he
gets this glazed look and I think he’s gone off in his head.”
happens when you both want to be the stay-at-home parent? Somebody has
to work – and is it fair to the mum to say that she has to be the one to
work when she doesn’t want to? That she has to leave the child she has
carried for nine months because dad can take care of the baby just as
well? I know I am supposed to favour these changes in fatherhood, but
where does it leave the mum who would prefer the traditional division of
so where does that leave fathers who would prefer to avoid the
traditional division of labour and do more at home? Do we have any say
or must we just do what we are told? Next thing we know, we will be
accused of not pulling our weight at home – we just can’t win! Sorry,
but this has to be NEGOTIATED!”
but if he’s NEVER AROUND and keeps coming home later than he said he
would, someone has to be in charge at home and
it’s not going to be him is it? I know what’s going on in the house, he
doesn’t. That’s the reality. He needs to step up before I can step
tired of hearing women and men complain that the infant just won’t take
to dad and that mum just doesn’t get a break. Hand dad the baby carrier
and send them for a walk... go to a fi lm with a friend... this is not
child abuse or damaging to your children... without it he will not start
establishing a connection and bond to dad.”
get into a cycle of perfect efficiency which you think will fall apart
if anyone else lays a finger on the child, and there’s your poor partner
hanging around saying, “Errrr, could I help?’” And you’re saying, “No!
You won’t get it right!”
work from home and do a lot round the house. My partner took lots of
maternity leave for our second child. After a while I realised I was
doing nothing round the house any more, just on my own working all the
time. Both of us were on autopilot – we were far too tired to think. It
was only when she went back to work part-time that a balance returned
and I got back to spending proper time with both children – and back to
Does this all
sound familiar? Well maybe its time to evaluate how your lives are
working out. Whatever age your children are, the situations just
TOP TIPS FOR NEW PARENTS
end up with one parent doing all the caring and the other doing all the
earning unless you really cannot avoid it.
time alone with your baby. Both become competent and confident with
him/her, learn and appreciate your different parenting styles - your
yourself first sometimes (and fathers – let them do this). Mothers who
make the children such a big part of their lives that everything else is
forgotten often become depressed.
mountains to get flexible work, even if it gives you only a few extra
hours with your baby every week.
listen. Don't just barge into the role you think is yours – find out if
your partner is happy with what your choice means for them. Do they feel
put-upon or pushed out by you? Things will then feel fairer, you will be
more loving and less stressed – which will also be good for your sex
Make time for
each other and do things you used to do before you had children. A happy
couple relationship means happier children.
guilty about working – nearly all mothers and fathers for all of human
history have had to work. Try to organize work so that one of you is
looking after the baby as much as possible; babies have always been
looked after by several people.
house could mean a smaller mortgage or more involved grandparents, think
hard about it.
Each agree to
do the one task around the house that the other likes least. If you can
afford it, pay for some of the tasks to be done for you.
Fisher, Author of
Baby’s Here! Who Does What? (How to split the work
without splitting up) - Buy the