Monday, 21 April 2014

The Rise of Pram Pushing Daddies

The latest male fashion trend to hit our local shops and the city's high street is a pram, it doesn't matter what make it is or how big, as long as there is a baby inside. I've only noticed this phenomenon after we had a child when my husband started navigating the busy shop-lined streets of Hillsborough, occasionally stopping to let another father pass through. And it's not just during the weekends either. 

Just as women have been able to empower themselves through education and employment, so have men been able to assert equality when it comes to bringing up the children. In most British households, this shared responsibility over the child begins at birth, when the father is no longer restricted to pacing up and down the waiting room but is present at delivery by the mother's side giving reassurance and cutting the newborn's umbilical cord. This transition to parenthood is also well-supported by employers and the government where a two-week paid paternity leave is on the plate. 

Nappy changing and mealtime feeding is also taken in turns but our bedtime routine is pretty much a father and son bonding hour incorporating a bath, a story book and a bottle-feed while I put my feet up for a well-deserved break in front of the television or in the kitchen baking a cupcake.

On a trip to the local museum while my mother was here she was rather surprised by the number of men pushing prams, carrying babies on their chest or chasing after toddlers while their mothers are assumed to be at work. Not as many as in Scandinavian countries I reassured her, but it is comforting to know that employment rules in this country is also allowing men to share childcare responsibilities. 

With the man's traditional role of being the family's main provider no longer being the norm, more fathers have started looking after their children full-time and an increasing number are doing so part-time. An Equal Opportunities Commission Survey on new fathers found that "almost 8 out of 10 working fathers revealed that they would be happy to stay at home and look after their baby, while almost 9 out of 10 men felt as confident as their partner when caring for their child. In general, 7 out of 10 dads wanted to be more involved with caring for their child."

When I return to work after my maternity leave finishes, John will be one of those pram pushing daddies doing weekly shopping at the local shops, on Thursdays at least. 

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