Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sharing Parenting With Your Partner

I chat with quite a few people on various parenting forums and I have really noticed that for a lot of them a big problem is the involvement - of lack of - of their partners. It seems that so many women are with their children all day, running the house, then do pretty much everything when their partner is home. Oh - some men do the bathing, usually so the woman can cook tea uninterrupted.

Now I know that I am very lucky with my husband, Jim is incredibly supportive and very involved with Lily's life. Part of that I put down to his nature and upbringing, having a hands on father himself. Part of it I put down to the fact he had to do everything straight after the birth as I had an emergency Cesarean section so was confined to doing very little for a while. Part of it I put down to my expectations.

When you have a child and one of you stays home to look after the child, then the child becomes the job. I am a Stay At Home Mum, not a housekeeper. My main role is to look after Lily, some days are easier than others, just like any job. I don't get regular free breaks - I have to take them when I can - and getting to the toilet can take some negotiating, but generally I focus on Lily, with a bit of washing and cooking thrown in.

The way I see it, my hours of work are the same as Jim's. When he is home from work, I am home from work, and we are both involved in parenting our child. There are some things that he can't do of course, as I am breastfeeding, but for everything else is open to both of us to do. And yes, I cook dinner while Jim baths Lily and puts her to bed, but he changes nappies (even the pooey ones!), plays with her, settles her when she gets upset - anything that needs doing.

Mums don't get stats, they don't get weekends off and they don't get 4 paid weeks a year. The least they deserve is the knowledge that when their partner is at home, he (or she) will be as involved in the raising of their children as they are. And if you do have to ask your partner to do something to help out it should be done happily, not with a sigh, a cry of 'but I just got home from work,' or a grumpy mood. Children need both their parents to be involved in their lives - if you have the good fortune to have both parents under one roof then children should know that what they get from their mother they can also get from their father.

Except for breast feeding a-la Meet the Fockers. That is just wrong.

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