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A TYPICAL ARGUMENT BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN ABOUT WHO DOES WHAT AT HOME

A 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.

This father’s 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.

Mother: “What 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 labour?

Father: “Great, 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!

Mother: “Yes, 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 aside.”

Mother: “I’m 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.

Mother “You 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!”

Father: “I 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 the ironing.

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 become different.

 

TOP TIPS FOR NEW PARENTS 

Don’t end up with one parent doing all the caring and the other doing all the earning unless you really cannot avoid it. 

Both spend time alone with your baby. Both become competent and confident with him/her, learn and appreciate your different parenting styles - your child will. 

Mothers: put 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. 

Fathers: move mountains to get flexible work, even if it gives you only a few extra hours with your baby every week. 

Talk and 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 life. 

Make time for each other and do things you used to do before you had children. A happy couple relationship means happier children. 

Don’t feel 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. 

If moving 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.

 

Duncan Fisher, Author of Baby’s Here! Who Does What? (How to split the work without splitting up) - Buy the book here

 

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