Would You Let a Man Care for Your Young Child?

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by Bethsaida Romelus

Many times, women are the primary or even sole caregivers for children under 2 years old. Some believe this is because of the maternal bond that forms while a child is in its mother’s womb. In fact, the reality of giving birth creates a connection that can’t be supplanted. As primary caretakers, women grow strong attachments with their young children and feel like it’s their duty to look after the children.

Do men form a similar bond with unborn children? Are men able to be just as good primary caregivers, especially to young children and infants? Are they strong enough to deal with custodial duties usually taken on by women? Do women believe men can look after young children as well as a woman? We asked in a special HERS online survey.

Modern women work outside the home more than ever before, but they are still the majority of caretakers of children. Most women love this role and try their best to balance it with work, fitness, and other duties. Today’s women take pride in being able to “do it all.” Apparently, some women feel a sense of guilt for not spending more time with their kids. Dr. Fran, author of The Self-Aware Parent, discuses this mental experience and women’s lack of desire to ask for help from men, “Because so many moms must work to help support their families, they are exhausted and feel guilty about not being there with their kids. When they are there, they do not want to fight and can’t bear when their children are angry with them. Therefore, mothers are not setting boundaries and not asking their partners and spouses for help sharing the child-rearing responsibilities.”

In society, men are not usually viewed as being capable of caring for children and households like women. However, there are many fathers who have proved themselves to be loving, supportive male figures in their children’s lives. According to the Pew Research Center, there has been a dramatic rise in single father households in recent decades. The number of single father households has increased about nine fold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011. As a result, men makeup a growing share of single parent householders. In 1960, fathers headed about 14% of single parent households, and today almost one-quarter (24%) are. However, with the increase of single parent father households, men today are still not getting credit for their actions at home.

Some men feel isolated in their homes and don’t believe that they are an essential part of the childcare process. Hogan Hilling, writer of “Rattled: What He’s Thinking When You’re Pregnant,” writes, “Moms forget that they make mistakes several times during the day. It’s just that no one is there to point them out. But when a dad makes a mistake, the mom is there, over his shoulder, telling him what a failure he is.”

As more men take the role of being single father in their homes, it is important to recognize their efforts to allow them to feel more comfortable in their duties. Leaving infants and toddlers with their fathers should be encouraged if they are willing to take responsibility, and woman should be able to give up some control in order for the children and men to build a bond. If the two parents can work together to create an effective, powerful dynamic in or outside of the household, than the children will most likely grow up to become a healthy and stable individual.


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