A day for dads

I would like to propose the beginnings of a revolution. Let’s not call it a revolution, actually, because that might spook the proletariat. My proletariat here comprises daddies.

Svend regularly cares for our 5-year old when I travel for conferences, but we usually rely on babysitters to cover the work-day. What this means is that, as an academic with a more flexible work week, I have the opportunity to spend various times of the day with Raihana, off and on, but Dad only gets to see her when she is winding down for bed, or on the weekend. The hours that stretch out during the day are lost to him. A part of the child’s life is never accessible to him.

Last week, while I was on a work-related trip, our babysitter suddenly became unavailable, and Svend had to take a day off because our peculiar circumstances did not make it possible for him to drop and pick her and take care of the day. He discovered what is for me a routine experience – the profound enjoyment of finding a group of preschool children entertaining themselves in a sunny school playground.

Why is it that fathers are deprived of that experience? While mothers are penalized for motherhood, fathers are ‘naturally’ shunted out of parental responsibilities during the week. I suspect there is some correlation between how the shorter life span of the male human and his inability to access the mundane, calming features of family. There, too, may lie his inability to effectively handle the needs of home and children, so that the mother emerges as the unchallenged expert on everything, from soothing babies to cooking a good curry. “I’m so BAD at it,” he whines, and she agrees, and snatches the ladle from him.

Let’s give him a chance. Give him a day for fatherhood. A day a week. Too much. All right then – a day a month, to care for the baby, to get the kid/s ready for school, drop them, pick them, get them their meals, entertain them, get up to speed on their needs, have serious daddy-talks, go to the playground – anything. A day a month – it isn’t too much. And don’t say that he gets two days a week, because the weekend is an entirely different kind of day. Dads need to be able to taste the flavor of a work week day with the child/ren. Let him have – at least a taste. Not to punish him for his absence the rest of the week, but to permit him the experience of which he is deprived.

3 thoughts on “A day for dads”

  1. Long time no see!

    It’s a pretty important part of my life, though it’s probably so routine I don’t appreciate it as much as I should. My partner works three days a week so we share drop off and pick up at the childminder’s (so I’m in charge breakfasts, dressing, packing them up etc). The 3yo’s ballet class is another alternating deal – that’s particularly delightful, actually. She’s out two evenings a week so I have the full-on solo putting-to-bed experience (which is a variable one). She’s likely to take redundancy soon and one thing I haven’t considered is the possible impact on my share of the parenting when she’s at home ‘contemplating her next move’. I hadn’t (until reading the above) really considered how important it is to me.

  2. It’s great to see you here. I do wonder about how we construct daddiness for ourselves but also about how societal structures contribute. What we usually think of as privileges (for dads: relative freedom from primary childcare responsibility, for mums: the ability to work and parent) work out and create complicated situations for us. Parenting is a right, and dads should want more of a share, beyond just bringing home the bacon. I hope things work out, dadwhowrites, and you get to keep the putting-to-bed. Svend often cares for R when I’m working or conferencing but I usually find that she stays up till I get home.

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