Often men are criticised for not embracing fatherhood entirely, dodging most of their parental duties for the sake of professional success. But why is it nearly impossible for men to be both committed parents and professionals? Is it because they do not find much encouragement from their peers? Or is it because no one comes to lend them a helping hand when they try to juggle parenthood and career or studies, forcing them to choose one over the other? The general perception of parenthood is still that it is a mother’s duty to raise a child.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Wayne Hayer a student in Morehouse College in Atlanta, US, took his daughter Assata, to his lecture, but when his maths teacher, Professor Nathan Alexander, saw him struggling to take notes he offered to hold the little one throughout the class.
  • The general perception of parenthood is still that it is a mother’s duty to raise a child.
  • When one gender crosses over to perform duties which must be done by the other, it doesn’t sit well with most people.
  • There is a firm line drawn, where men’s contribution to parenting ends.

However, on some days you come across stories which hint at changing attitude towards parenting among men. According to Huffington Post, Wayne Hayer took his daughter Assata, to his lecture at his college in UK Atlanta, as he couldn’t find anyone to watch her. But when his maths lecturer saw him struggling to take notes while rocking his daughter, Professor Nathan Alexander offered to hold the little one throughout the class. What kind of impact it would have had on the student, had his professor not stepped in? Perhaps he would have felt discouraged and skipped classes in future. The professor wasn’t under any obligation to help him. He could have turned him away or ignored his struggle. But he didn’t.

With increasing number of working women and single parenting also being on the rise, parenting responsibilities are finding their way to more and more dads. Most men embrace it, but they also seek support and encouragement from the peer group, because all this is still very new to them.

Blame it on our gendered upbringing, which teaches us that men and women have specific roles in a household.

Often we see men belittling other men for helping out their partners in parenting duties. For such men changing diapers or feeding a baby is emasculating; something which makes them lesser of a man. Blame it on our gendered upbringing, which teaches us that men and women have specific roles in a household. When one gender crosses over to perform duties which must be done by the other, it doesn’t sit well with most people. Men, especially are very conscious about protecting their masculine image and detest any task which they have grown up identifying as one to be done by women.

This is the reason why women have to take a break from their studies or career to rear children. Because men have firmly drawn a line where their contribution to parenting ends. Work and studies lie on the other side of that line. Thus men often feel discouraged from taking up parenting duties, because there is no support system around them. Their male peers do not approve of them changing diapers in between office meetings, or rocking their infant to sleep during a lecture. But when men normalise babysitting for their male colleagues or student, it leads to a change in perception. More male students will be okay with taking their babies to a lecture after reading this story. More male colleagues would offer to care for their peer’s baby if the latter has a meeting to attend. It is subtle initiatives like simply holding someone’s baby in times of need, which leave behind powerful and indelible examples.

More male students will be okay with taking their babies to a lecture after reading this story. More male colleagues would offer to care for their peer’s baby if the latter has a meeting to attend.

On most days you don’t have to go to the extent that Professor Alexander did, an understanding smile is all it takes to encourage a father to be a more devoted parent.

Picture credit: Twitter/Original_Vaughn

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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