Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dad's the way!

A new study by the Institute of Public Policy Research has found that there are now two million maternal breadwinners in Britain (a rise of ten percent since 1996). That translates as roughly one third of households where mum earn most (or, indeed, all) of the household income.

Speaking as someone for whom that has been true for the past seven years I can only say I'm delighted to be at the cutting end of the trend. Although the finances are a bit tight! (Anyone want to buy a book?)

But at the same time we learn that only 60 per cent of dads take their full entitlement of paternity leave. And although in April this year the rules changed allowing parents to share the full 50 week parental leave entitlement, as little as 2 per cent of companies are currently reporting men making requests to take all or part of this allowance.

Of course, the pay is undoubtedly a factor. Many employers won't either be willing or able to enhance the basic statutory pay of just £140 per week, in spite of the fact that many do so as far as maternity leave is concerned. Maybe future legislation should level this particular playing field for a start.

But I'm still rather baffled by the suggestion that some men feel 'emasculated' by giving up work and looking after children. Their own children.

In my experience as a stay-at-home dad I've often found attitudes to what I do changing (pretty swiftly) from a general 'I-don't-know-how-you-do-it' to a wistful, 'I-wish-I-could/had'. That's immensely sad. Kids grow up too quickly as it is. We should try to make the most of the precious moments that we have.

A job's just a job. But a dad is forever.

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