I wanted to share the link to an article I ran across on Yahoo. It is a picture of a father, Doyin Richards, brushing his daughter’s hair while holding his infant in a carrier. This is an image that is the norm in so many homes, however our society fails to accept it as such. So much so, that it went viral. (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/awesome-dad-styles-daughter-39-hair-breaks-internet-204400163.html)
What does this have to do with feminism? This is exactly what feminism is striving for. Men, like women should have equal opportunities to parent and bond with their children. When we as women and mothers, fight for a healthy work/life balance in our careers it does not just benefit us. When we ask for equal pay as our male counterparts, it does not just benefit us. It benefits the men in our lives whom we chose to have our children with, to share our lives with.
If work/life balance is allowed for men and fathers, they can be home on time to contribute more fully to their children’s lives. They can leave work midday to make it to a parent/teacher conferences without being looked upon by their boss or colleagues as a someone who does not work as hard. When women gain equal pay, then it takes the pressure off men to work longer hours to either be the primary or sole breadwinners.
It is unfair that we put this pressure on our men. They deserve to be a part of their children’s lives in equal measure. A working mother allows for opportunities for working fathers to pursue their dreams as well, without the added pressures of being the primary/sole breadwinners. It allows them to take the risks to allow them to “follow their bliss,” because their wives are making a decent living. This whole idea that our society equates the hours clocked in the grind with how valuable an employee is, is complete and utter nonsense. Ask any working mother how she manages to complete the same work in eight hours successfully and many times even better than her childless counterparts (both men and women), how it can be done? Oh yeah that is right, working mothers are not viewed as valuable as their childless counterparts, because they prioritize their children over their careers and put boundaries to protect their work/life balance 😉
When we allow our men the same luxury of being able to see their children’s plays, or make it home in time to take them to their after school sports they end up with much more fulfilling lives and relationships with their children. When women/mothers entered the workforce we wanted to have the same opportunities and be equally valued. We want our children to know that anything is possible by being the example. I am more than certain that fathers want to be that example as well.
In their book Getting to 50/50, authors Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober cite a study done by the U.S. Department of Education in 1996. “The DOE found that “fathers” involvement in their children’s school had a distinct and independent influence” even after controlling for parental education, income, and maternal involvement. “In two-parent families, involvement of both parents in school significantly associated with a greater likelihood that their children in first through twelfth grade get mostly A’s and they enjoy school and a reduced likelihood that they have ever repeated a grade. Fathers’ involvement has a stronger influence on the children getting mostly A’s than does a mother’s involvement.” (p. 29).
The same opinions that scrutinize and criticize men for taking advantage of their parental duties also ask successful working women, “how do you do it all?” The answer is, “we have men in our lives who want to share in the responsibility of being good and available fathers.” You will never catch those same narrow sighted individuals asking successful working fathers the same question. The question at its core is sexist. In order to gain pure equality, society has to be open to men being nurturing just as equally as women. No man has a child and dreams of being absent from their lives. Men, just like women have an ideal of what it is to be an available and loving father, but our society squashes that out of them with the same bashing it inflicts on working mothers. We have to love and be open to our men to be the fathers they dream to be and stop putting a magnifying glass on them when they are. Winning this battle is a step in the right direction.