The Changing Role of Fathers in Caring for their Children
There are some questions which people will always believe to be more women’s than male’s duties. One of them is definitely the upbringing of children. Most of the male sex used to entrust their wives with the education of their heirs together with all the household chores into the bargain. They took this habitual duty for granted and were not disposed to change their views. However, everything in life undergoes its constant changes. It is always difficult and even scary to adjust to the novel situations, blind decisions and uncertain hazards. Certainly, every person has to put aside all the irrational fears and face bravely the unknown reality. Fathers just had to size up the situation and experience it.
The great changes happened nowadays with the role of fathers in caring for their children. Not long ago, the traditional father was considered to be the main breadwinner in the family who brought home earnings. He was also responsible for fixing things and disciplining the children regularly. The rest were mostly mother’s duties. The situation changed a bit over the years. Most families are now trying to achieve a more balanced distribution of care for their children.
As a result, fathers became involved in more aspects of child care such as looking after kids when their wives are at work or walking with them in the park. At the same time, mothers have a chance to rest from their routine’s home life and devote themselves to work. According to Esping- Andersen (1999), the employment of female workers who have children has exceedingly raised in Spain during the last decades. Significant number of fathers has taken the role of “stay at home parents” which increased the men’s participation in household activities (Meil 2005). As mothers started to spend more time away from home, all the child care shifted to the father’s duties and responsibilities. Most countries began to implement the parental leave policy which aimed at avoiding discrimination against women and strengthening the equilibrium in care obligations for mothers and fathers (Romero-Balsas 2013). It also afforded opportunity for fathers to get closer to their children and improve their rather cold relationships.
Most of fathers used to occupy a “ghost” like position in the bringing up of their children. They are so often busy with their work that children sometimes even forget about this “invisible friend” (Burnett 2013). In the constant pursuit of happy future for their dearest ones, they simply lose the precious present. The most important moments of their kid’s childhood are passing over them. The parental leave is like a second chance to such “ghosts” to become visible to their children and make up for lost time. The life cannot always be just seeking for prosperity. Sometimes it is necessary to leave all your boring working routine behind and to live light-heartedly even for a day. All father’s stuff of earning money is now shifting to women’s consideration. They become responsible for supporting the whole family. The fathers respectively have to look after their children and try to adjust to the position of primary caregivers.
It can be a great challenge but they should never give up and continue to seek mutual understanding. It is not an easy to achieve process which demands great efforts and iron patience. However, if fathers exert themselves, they will finally obtain their children’s confidence and respect. Undertaking the empathy role of the mothers, will bring a desired success in capturing their kid’s sympathy. The treatment of the children towards their fathers will surely alter from distant to more affectionate and tender. They will learn to trust their daddies, to share secrets with them and display more love. The children expect their fathers to give them answers for every question and help to overcome the difficulties. That’s why, the parents should always be there, do their utmost to educate their children and stay honest and trustworthy in spite of any life ordeal.
One the other hand, the situation would be much worse if there is the increase of mothers’ employment (Doogan 2009). Working long hours and focusing on profit would disable women of performing the role of that spiritual center who clusters the family together and forms the friendly atmosphere. That is why the possible way out of this situation can be the shifting balance in children care in order to make the kids’ upbringing less harmful process and to give them an opportunity to have both parent’s love and attention at least from time to time. Børve suggests that “the society needs to move from the traditional male-breadwinner model to new dual-breadwinning model” (2015). Both parents should have a choice either to make their career or to sacrifice themselves to family. It is not only women’s responsibility to fully dedicate themselves to their children without any opportunity to realize some of their plans or take up new hobbies. There must be just agreement between two parties that would lead to the equal contributions of the mothers and fathers to the upbringing of their children. Caring fathers would not then be a myth but a reality. The men need to learn how to combine their work life and raising children and not just prioritize accumulation of capital over the time spent with their families and childcare obligations. Besides, prevailing role of fathers in doing daily care even seems to have a significant benefit. The father’s role of a main caregiver in the family usually leads to the two highly involved parents’ surroundings which is a great advantage to the children. Furthermore, having an involved father also facilitates a good teamwork and mutual understanding and support between mothers and fathers. Thus, if fathers try to achieve the marital harmony in raising their children it would surely promote effective parenting partnership. Only when two partners care about each other as well as make efforts to create equilibrium in childcare and managerial career, they would be able to share the ups and downs of the parenting experience. That surely will be the best surroundings for raising kids.
Globalization and flexible working culture distinguish two types of fathers: a present and an absent father. Full employment with its long working hours and constant business travelling leaves very little time for childcare. Even if fathers are at home they not always manage to be mentally present. They need rest and recreation after hard work and in domestic conditions it is perceived as a violating of the claims of the present father. Coltrane states that “only when the father will be both physically and mentally present will he satisfy his children’s expectations as a present father” (2000). However, in reality men seem to have little control over their start and finish times. If the employees could be in charge of their own working hours, there would not appear any work-family conflicts. A company’s working culture, travel and recreation after it bring to the absence from domestic life as well as to the mental absence due to recuperating problems. However, working conditions at global high-tech knowledge-based companies will create special “transnational business masculinity practice” which evolves active fathering and enables being present for the children (Doogan 2009). This influence of globalization is the best achievement for stimulating other more involved fathering practices.
Different countries have contradicting opinions as to the parental leave. Though it gained ground in Europe, much of the world is still unfamiliar and indifferent to such parental leave policy. China and India, for example, do not allow any leave at all, neither paid, nor unpaid. Most European countries consider the leave as a way of helping women to return to their workplaces. They give the women a chance to choose for themselves what life path they want to go through. The life after childbirth not only comes to the limits of the education process of the progeny and monotonous housework. The mothers should be able to establish priorities in life and be the creators of their own destiny. If the woman desires to return to work straight after the accouchement, the government should provide her with favourable conditions. The establishment of comfortable and profitable terms for fathers is also their first consideration.
According to the UK plan, new mothers must take the first two weeks and then they will be able to transfer the rest to their partners. The couple decides how the parental leave can be divided between them and what will be the most suitable variant for both sides. Each partner could even take twenty-five weeks together. The government guarantees the statutory minimum payment for the first thirty-nine weeks.
Speaking about other European countries, the policy is not so far-reaching. Norway, for example, has adopted a so-called “daddy quota” assigned exclusively for fathers’ period of the paternal leave. If men do not use their time allowed, the family will loose it. The fathers’ quota totals fourteen weeks in comparison with the same amount of the mothers’ quota. The parents choose together how the rest of the time can be split between them. There are a lot of contestants of the paternal leave who oppose strongly to the idea of the “pappaperm” (Romero-Balsas 2013). Norway’s conservative parties debate that every couple should be able to apportion their leave as per the option they would choose the most convenient one. The head of one of the country’s biggest employers' associations though emphasizes, that “it would strengthen the men’ position in the family and the women's in the workplace” (Burnett 2013). That is surely the thing Norway still needs.
Legal framework is responsible for motivating fathers in an active participation in care practices. The fathers deserve to have at least minimal parental leave which is defined as a key element of full fatherhood and is connected to care. Most fathers believe that taking paternity or parental leave is at first their ambition to become available for their children. It is not only the mothers’ duty to devote themselves to their kids care from the moment of their birth. Men should support their wives in this exhausting process of upbringing and sometimes sacrifice the working hours for this noble aim. Taking care of the children can never be considered the wasting of the time. Maybe it can somehow influence the family’s well-being or have negative consequences on the household organization, but there would always be a chance to repair an omission. Employers used to consider the paternity leave as a sign of more family-oriented men. Such employees are supposed to be less trustworthy and faithful than those who do not take such leave. As a result, employers become less interested in these workers and are not eager to offer them pay rises and promotions (Doogan 2009). There is a probability of profit shrinkage and the reduction of the accrual of work experience. However, the four week of forgone human-capital accumulation can not greatly influence the family earnings. The parental leave leads to fathers’ greater contribution to home life and expands the need for mothers’ time at work. Finally, it results in the growth of the total home production.
The fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives promotes to more educational and socioemotional development of the offspring. It is difficult to determine the effect of the paternity leave on the children individually (Greenhouse &Beutell 1985). Family income is really significant for child upbringing and development. In some cases the benefit of increased fathers’ involvement is even overbalanced by the unfavourable consequences of reduced family earnings. The paternity leave can negatively affect the earnings of the fathers with the low educational levels. These parents, in fact, do not exceedingly impact on the children’s school achievements and sometimes not have any positive outcomes in their offspring’s development at all. However, some benefits on the children can be found in the families in which fathers have much higher educational level than mothers.
The public though, is not very supportive of the idea of fathers staying at home with their children. Only five percents of people second men’s paternal leave and the vast majority believes that dads should work full time. The father who chooses the role of the caregiver not only oversteps the social norms, but also hazards his abilities to play the part of the protector and provider of the family. Other workers may also find faults with such fathers and will always judge their choice. Paternal leave is seen by most of the others as the way of escaping men’s primary duties and shifting them to the fragile women’s shoulders.
The paternal leave has completely different effect on fathers than on mothers. The fathers can choose employment instead of paternal leave. For mothers, however, the alternative is always permanent or temporary exit from workplace in order to look after their children and be involved in their upbringing. The relationship between parental leave and various consequences for mothers are not such positive and meaningful as the same relationships for fathers (Holter 2007).
Some attention should be paid now to the ethnic minority women’s experience. Nowadays more domestic and family expectations are placed on women than on their partners. As a result, females are in constant struggle of combining work and personal life. One can speak about cultural dimension only in cases where ethnic minority women’s communities and their families’ religious and cultural anticipations emphasize the additional strain and tension of these women. It is really possible for white and ethnic minority women to live in two worlds, but the last can found the distance between these two words extremely difficult to overcome. Such women are very dedicated to their ethnic communities and while using their religion they are always struggling some supplementary responsibilities. Every ethnic group has its own distinct features, which actually suggests that any life experience can be equally perceived and employed for all of them. The world of work and the world of home are immensely remote from each other in the situations where ethnic minority women desired to be active participants of their religious and ethnic communities. The length of such distances can also stand on the choice of ethnic group women belong to and on the fact whether they refer to their own religion or culture. If there is a demand to avoid essentializing experience, people should recognize diversity across and within various groups (Coltrane 2000).
Contrary to some groups which personal lives and paid work often have very blurred boundaries, ethnic minority groups will never face this problem. The personal life of ethic minority women is so distinct from their work that there is nearly any possibility of their overlapping. It proves that ethnic minority women undergo high levels of separation between their personal life and their work life. The dictates and anticipations in these two lives seem to be completely divergent.
Nowadays more women became employed with even prevailing amount of ageing population and ethnic minority. Employers who maintain equality and practice diversity as the business case should attempt at understanding the vital diversity needs of every group. However, insignificant alteration will not save the whole matter. On the contrary, it will cause the minority groups, who do not consider themselves a fit to the image of “ideal worker”, simply isolate from the society (Coltrane 2000).
Managers, in reality, should aim at creating positive culture and supply work and support. Such true changes in culture will profit not only their stuff but also themselves. Employers need some sort of cultural training to be aware of all the diverse needs of various groups and assist in coping with them. There should exist communication seminars where employees would be able to express their views, share interesting ideas and perceptions of balancing their work and personal life. Each member should have a chance to speak up without any restrictions to the specific group he may belong. Only systematic changes on the governmental and organizational levels should be taken into consideration. The emphasis is put on the implementation of such policies which genuinely appreciate diversity and all the benefits of the diverse employees.
Certainly, over the last decades the role of the fathers in caring for their children as well as mothers’ and fathers’ working lives has undergone various changes. Nobody is aware of how these alterations will influence today’s world or every family individually. It is always difficult and even scary to adjust to the novel situations, blind decisions and uncertain hazards. At some point, people just have to trust their instincts and hope for the best and give new changes some chance of success. So, every person has to put aside all the irrational fears and face bravely the unknown reality.
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