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Male caregivers need support too

I thought I had made a good point.

I was talking to the scriptwriter of a television series interviewing me on the topic of raising emotionally intelligent children. My point was that the by-line of each episode was (more or less) “remember, you are great mommies”.

I think it’s great to support parents by taking away the judgment of being “bad”. I often feel parents stress themselves out. But my point was “why just mommies?” What about the dads out there, those that actually want to be involved and need more support than many moms?

They are the ones that have the stereotyping going against them.

It reminds me of shopping queues and looking at the many magazines on Mother’s Love and Your pregnancy and the many others which support moms raising children.

So then where does the modern, conscious father go to get support and inspiration let alone just the basic affirmation that they are also “great daddies”? Will we be “men enough” to say to the check-out lady “Yep, this is my bedtime reading tonight,” or will we smile and say “this is for my wife”.

The script writer said their target market were stay-at-home moms. No doubt the same argument applies to all the magazines out there. Must we draw the conclusion then that men aren’t interested in magazines that support them in being better fathers?

I was deeply impressed when I read that some European countries extend the same amount of paternal leave to fathers as maternal leave to mothers. They may not feel the need to take it but the recognition is there that they are also the primary caregivers.

The recent post-election debates on gender equity were interesting to listen to in light of the above comments. Cabinet ministers, affirmative action, BEE programmes, racial equality in sports teams etc.

Some criticised that the equality is still not there. Well, let’s extend this observation to the deeply rooted societal context of child-rearing and child development as well. Anyone who knows about the real power of a culture will also understand the critical role that a caregiver and education play during these formative years.