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Your Daily Read: The Trouble With Dads

Towards more participative parenting

How to make the world a better place, one father at a time


One of our favourite moments from 2014 was that of Kamla Bhasin calling out on the burden of masculinity in an episode of Satyamev Jayete

Perhaps the most insidious way in which patriarchy affects us is by imposing an unrealistic expectation of gender-normal roles for both men and women. Women are expected to preserve and nurture while men are expected to provide and protect.

Recent research shows that these expectations are stopping both men and women from leading fulfilling lives. Women are forced into exiting the workplace as they become mothers, and men are forced into being primary providers.

However, as this article in The Daily Beast contends, participative parenting can impact both men and women’s lives dramatically.

Evidence is piling up that as men do more of the caregiving, violence against women falls. Delinquency declines. The health, happiness and well-being of men, children and women improve. Couples report better sex lives. Women’s income increases. And battles between the sexes diminish.

The article also challenges the ‘myth’ of the maternal instinct by arguing that men are as biologically hardwired to take care of their children as women are:

When fathers hold and play with their children, oxytocin and prolactin kick in, priming them for bonding. These are the same hormones that are released when women are breastfeeding. The more we care for children as fathers and mothers, the more our bodies respond to the task, literally pulling our attention and energy to caring for our child.

But society continues to insist that women take time off from work, that men continue to harden their heart and bring home the daily bread, that women wrestle with the guilt of leaving their children at nurseries, and that men maintain an emotional distance from their children. We all know that one friend who is a Stay At Home Dad, but the very fact that his existence is anecdotal (and often blog worthy) while that of so many female friends barely remarked upon, means that parenting remains a largely ‘feminine’ domain.

How do we change this? The authors contend that while paid paternity leave is a part of the solution, equally important is the way we raise our boys, in a way that promotes care-giving. In many families both the men and women don’t trust fathers with taking care of the children, because the men don’t have enough experience (often having barely held a baby ever!). So go ahead, buy your little one that doll or push stroller. Let your teenage boy babysit his little nephews and nieces. And trust your younger brother with heating that formula bottle. It will do both him and you good.

Read more here.


Your Daily Read is a regular MBRB feature -that highlights stories about gender, politics and culture that deserve to be seen and shared by Indian women. Read, comment, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more.


Photo Credit: Vivian Chen [陳培雯] via Compfight cc

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