Having a family is a wonderful thing, and each member has its responsibilities within a given family unit. These tend to change over time as children grow older. Parent roles are also flexible, especially when one parent is absent for a period of time. Traditionally it is the mother who cares for the children, but we no longer are in traditional times. So what is the current status of the parents’ roles?
First a bit of history…
The mother as the caregiver dates back to the beginning of time when nomadic people walked the Earth. Men and women have always had different “jobs” within the household due to practicality and cultural norms. The man of the house brought in the catch of the day from the hunt, and later the income. The woman of the house was the primary caregiver and took control of household duties.
Although men were considered to be the workforce behind a country’s economy, women too played an important role that was eventually realized by marketing companies. Housewives were the ones who spent the money their husbands would bring home. They were the selectors of various products on the market, pouring money back into the economy. However, unfortunately, women at home have been viewed as the “lesser” sex throughout history even though they were the ones raising the citizens and future leaders of a country.
Fast forward a bit…
When the Industrial Revolution took place and factories starting popping up, women started entering the workforce more and more. Now they had double the duty- taking care of the house and working full time. They were hard times for women, though the household benefitted from the double income.
Women also took jobs while men were at war, like in World War I and II. Eventually, women began to fight for the right to work whether they were married or not, and had children or not. The percentage of women in the workforce after giving birth continued to rise and rise.
In the late 20th century it became more and more difficult for a family to survive on one income. Both parents worked to make enough to support their family.
To modern times…
As times continued to progress however, things began to take a turn. Male homemakers began to appear. Although it was looked down on in the beginning, as time went on society has gradually come to accept that fathers can be stay at home parents too. Some advertisements now are even catered towards them.
The trend has only risen, with more and more dads staying at home with the children while the mother works full time. Every family’s situation is different, and sometimes this way makes sense. There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it has been reported that a stay at home parent job would make an annual salary between the figures of $70,000 to $110,000 because of all the work that needs to be done, and the time spent doing it.
Gender role equality
Just as throughout history women have long fought (and continue fighting) for gender equality in the workplace and in general, gender roles should be equal as well.
As we have been stating throughout this article, women’s roles typically include caring for the children, cleaning the house, cooking the meals, and doing the shopping. Men have full time jobs and are the sole breadwinners. These types of roles have been both consciously and subconsciously ingrained in us as we grow up.
It is not until we are young adults that we really challenge these preconceived notions. Because of these challenges, gender roles are lessening as women take on the traditional men’s roles, and men take on the traditional women’s roles.
Gender role reversal
This leads us to a gender role reversal. What about equality? What is the difference? People tend to think that it’s all or nothing. You either play the “woman’s role” or the “man’s role” in a relationship. If they are switched, it is known as role reversal. However, more and more people are striving for not just equality, but a balance between the two by both working and taking care of the house.
How does all of this affect children?
Going back to a complete gender role reversal where dads become the stay at home parent, there are some important questions to consider. One rises above the rest. Does the father being the primary caregiver at home affect children’s development? It’s not secret that as a stereotype, women are more nurturing than men. If this is true, are stay at home dads a potentially bad thing?
The simple answer is no, but let’s take a look at why. Research has shown that fathers as the raiser of a child grows to have the same level of emotional response and support to that of a mother. The human brain is very flexible and will adapt to situations that call for more care, such as engaging with and watching over a baby. Men and women do think and react to things differently, but if the emotional feelings are the same, the reaction to those feelings will lead to a positive outcome.
Although this may seem obvious, there is still a big prejudice against men when it comes to the care of a child. “It requires a woman’s touch to raise a child is the common thought process. However, single father families and homosexual parents are on the rise, and yet there is no proven impact on the children of these parents. It can be hard for the child not to have two different parents as role models, but all in all healthy development is not affected as long as caring treatment is received.
Though it may take a little longer for the initial bonding process between father and child, if the father becomes the primary caregiver he reacts to all happenings with the same sensitivity and caring as a mother would. In short, men are just as equip to be the stay at home parent as women are.