Today in the Swiss-French newspaper, Le Temps, Markus Theunert, president of the association Männer (men.ch/masculinities.ch) argues for “more men in childcare centers” (crèches). He also argues the right of men to part-time work and parental leave in Switzerland. A brave man.
I’ve come across in the past year (in my life as an executive coach) other young men who have become fathers and who were given one day off for the life-changing event. It made me think about the day I gave birth (luckily programmed for 9:00 a.m. on a Monday) which allowed the new Dad to just pop back into the office in the afternoon. He then worked through the week and picked us up on the weekend. Terribly practical.
The young fathers I have talked to say that they know that having a good relationship with their children depends on “doing things” for them and with them. Kids somehow don’t know how to feel grateful that their Dads spent so much time at the office, away from them. These young men say that they want to have better relationships with their kids than they had (as kids) with their Dads.
I knew a woman manager who took a week off work once a year and went away with her mother, leaving her husband to look after the children. That way her mother couldn’t replace her in the home. I thought it was brave of her to do that. My paediatrician always recommended it to me. Maybe it was brave of her husband. It certainly gave him an opportunity to take care of the kids, maybe he had to learn how to do certain things. (Maybe the kids were really badly dressed that week.) But you know what, so did his wife. In fact everyone has to learn how to take care of kids. It’s nothing to do with your gender.
Another woman went away for two weeks and left her mother and her mother-in-law at home with her husband and their child. That would be my idea of a bad time. I can’t think that I would have liked to have my mother and my mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) with me to take care of the children for one week, let alone two. That would have required a totally different kind of learning curve.