Friday, September 19, 2008

Men.

Men, can't live with them, can't bury them in the bottom of the garden without the blasted neighbours asking nosy questions.
Nah, I kid, I kid. Men are people too.
Interesting to read this article in the Times this morning.
Interesting and yet hardly news. I've never understood the peculiar notion that just because a couple split up in this country the man is automatically relegated to non-parent. Or at the very least second in command. Children by and large do better when both parents are actively involved in their lives and if both parents are willing and able they should be encouraged to do so. And legally free to do so. Splits ups are awful enough without denying children access to the people they love.
The other curious thing-for me anyway- was this line...
"On the issue of raising children, 56 per cent believe a woman should accept that her children are more important that her career."
Aw bless, the unmistakable whiff of the 1950s.
Why should this be? Who says women don't already consider their children more important than their careers? Who says they/we must accept our children are more important? More important that what? Career, self worth, happiness? If-according to the same article- men feel there ought to be more flexi time for them to enjoy their children as they grow would it not then follow on that more flexi time = more shared parental duties? Thus freeing up women and allowing them to enjoy a career AND children- should she so wish to do so? To suggest women MUST accept that their children are more important that their careers implies women don't regard them as such now, and that women ought to know better and be prepared to take a back seat employment wise when their offspring are born. That women already do this is not acknowledged of course, just glossed over.
On the subject of childcare and child raising it seems blatantly obvious to me that these issues ought to be discussed well in advance of actually procreating ( if at all possible). Not every woman wants to leave her job and stay home with the baby. Not every man wants to work all the hours in the day to support a partner and child, not every woman wants to return to work after her children are born, not every man and woman WANT children. Sometimes it makes economic sense for a woman to retain her job while her partner cuts back his hours. It's not a one size fits all situation.
But it is a decision couples must deal with, or at least it should be. Certainly in this day and age where mortgages are ridiculously expensive and commuting puts strain on personal time, having children can seem like an uphill battle and one that is delayed longer and longer. But is that not also a curious quirk of our times? Putting off having children until much later is now considered the right option for many, and indeed it probably is for them. I wonder though do the same problem still crop up? WHo will stay home, who will sacrifice their time and work?
Personally I would hate to feel I had no option but to remain with a child all the live long day. It would drive me bonkers. But neither do I like the idea of popping them into a creche from morning to night either. That would upset me and make me question why I bothered having them in the first place- cue the guilt! I'm sure there is a middle ground. Flexi-time might just be that middle ground for a lot of parents. Certainly working together to raise a family seems to me to be a more admirable route than assigning definite roles.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Selina Kyle said...

my partner has a daughter from a previous relationship and he goes through hell to be able to see his daughter four days a month... and the law is definitely not on his side, no matter how good a father he is or anything.
and regarding roles... people at work still frown at one of the managers here, a woman whose husband stays at home minding the kids. it doesn't matter that they are happy with this arrangement and that the kids are happy, oh no... HE should be working, and SHE should be with the kids, and that's it, right?
bleh....

9:43 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

It's sad that couples still use their kids as bargaining chips when they end a relationship/marriage badly, but it will probably never change and thus will still need more and more court intervention to establish rights of access. The damage they do to the children involved is often irreparable and blights the whole life of the child in their own relationships. Where work and mothering/fathering is concerned I think most couples should work out their own strategies of what works best for them and tell anyone trying to interfere to fuck off.

10:04 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have said this before but in general I think children are better off with their mother. I am not trying to antagonise anybody nor am I saying it doesn’t happen but it is rare you would meet a couple and think the guy would handle the children better. In saying that unless he had done something untoward to them I would never ever, ever stop a father having access to his children. Some men and women use children as leverage and they are both bastards,

To say that a women should know their child is paramount is ridiculous, I would imagine that this comes natural.

I also think you are right about the child care issue, it seems some people don’t give it an awful lot of thought. My friends brother has four children, they are about 12 weeks, 18 mths, 3 and 6. Both parents have really good jobs and neither of them are prepared to give up work to mind them, even now with the mother on maternity leave, the 18mth old and 3 year old are still packed off to the crèche from 8.30 until 6.00. I cannot understand this at all. I just don’t see the point in having children. Like boarding school, why have them if you cannot rear them? It seems extremely selfish to me. I mean for the amount of money it costs to send two kids to a crèche, one of you could work part time or get a cleaner or nanny to help you. I would hate to give up work but at the same time there is no way they are getting pawned of in a crèche. I would rather sacrifice the big house and nice car to mind them. I think for us anyway my other half would work from home and I would work part time, so I guess my careers would suffer.


Nonny

10:05 a.m.  
Blogger Chris Stokes said...

This is a wonderfully on-the-nose post. For some reason, the original article seems to focus on 'man' and 'woman', when it should - of course - be focusing on the child ("Why why why won't someone think of the children?"). Quite right, the child needs both parents or, if needs must, as much of both as he/she can get.

Re: "Women should think their child more important than their career." Again, marvellously askew. Of course a child should become the most important thing in the world to a parent, but that means to a father as well. Why is it that women should feel this, and not 'man' and 'woman' together?

A refreshing and splendid post. I am now a follower.

10:27 a.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

Well said - I also don't like the tone of that sentence, "women SHOULD..." and 56% of people think so, huh?

What the...as though caring for your children more than anything else doesn't come naturally to 99.9999999% of all parents - and there's a very good Darwinian explanation for WHY that is - but the way the economy works in most of the world right now, it's almost impossible for anyone to raise kids on one salary. I mean - let's face that hard fact. This isn't the 50's anymore.

12:35 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Afternoon folks. I must away to the recycling dump before one!! Time and tide wait for no man Gamma used to say and boy was she right.
It's a curious thing in this country, how we view parenting, we seem to have gone from an EXTREMELY traditional way of raising children, eg. Dad works Mam stays home, to everybody at the helm. And I don't believe either way suits everybody all of the time. But we muddle along don't we, all of us. We make our mistakes and we try our best.
I'm amazed that people still find issue with a man staying home to care for his children, but then it bucks the norm so I suppose it will be glanced at askance-although it shouldn't be and I would hope that attitude is changing. Same for anyone. A friend of mine with three boys often feels obliged to mention she will return to the workforce when they youngest one is in primary school, as though the job she is doing isn't important enough.
On the subject of which parent is more suitable to raise children in the even of a break-up, I think it needs to reviewed case by case and NOT a general tilt in either direction. I know plenty of wonderful fathers who deserve the right to raise their children equally in the event of a breakup. I don't automatically assume the mother to be the best carer. In an ideal world parents should be viewed a of equal importance to the emotional AND physical well being of a child.
But ideal worlds are few and far between, even on warm Gingerdays in September.

12:51 p.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

Its Gingerday? Prove it!

12:55 p.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

Nice post Fmc.

1:38 p.m.  
Anonymous problemchildbride said...

ood post.
I didn't like the prescriptive tone of the article either. "should accept that her children are more important than her career"? Never mind that this is normally the case anyway, but "should"? Who are these "should"ers and where can I send a note advising them where they should pull out their heads from?

5:33 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I 'should' imagine they are all around. Have a good weekend Sam, off to watch Michael Clayton now.

8:40 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

My hat's off to those who manage it.

11:39 p.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

Nonny - I would hazard a guess that the 18 month old and 3 year old are "packed off" to day care to give the mother a chance to care for the newborn. To give the new baby the time and attention it needs and the mother a chance to recover.

I have 2 kids, when the youngest was born I felt terribly guilty and took the older one out of daycare, it was a dreadful mistake, I had neither the time or energy to pay attention to him, nor the time or energy to care for his new brother.

I choose to work, to send my children to a carefully chosen daycare where they are cared for and loved. They are thriving.

I have neither a big house or a nice car, we struggle, as many working families do, to make ends meet every month. Paying for daycare in these circumstances may seem illogical to you, but it's what works for us and millions of others. If I were a stay at home mother I would go rapidly insane. I'm not having other people rear my children, I'm rearing them and part of that is looking after me, being the best parent I can and choosing care for them while I work that adequately meets my and their needs. I work to remain a functioning adult, but mostly to pay bills and get excellent medical benefits for my family.

For the record, my partner stayed at home with our older child for a year, we're still digging ourselves out of that financial hole.

When/if you have children and you choose to stay home with them I wish you luck. Your choices are not my concern and I do not pass judgment on them.

--

Regarding the article, my own opinion is that fathers and mothers should have just as much input and access to the children their relationship bore, providing, of course, that both are equally equipped to do so.

56% saying that women should accept that children are more important is just stat bollix, that means that nearly 50% don't think that way.

Somehow I lost you FMC, am glad to have refound you!

2:50 a.m.  

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