Every Thursday afternoon, my husband spoils our kids when he brings home a bag of giant cookies from Sainsburys.
Does that make him a bad Dad?
He gets cross with our children. He shouts at them. He’s impatient. He tuts when they don’t like the dinner he’s cooked. He moans about the mess they make.
So he’s not a good Dad?
Well hold on, that’s not the whole story.
He teaches them about World War II history. He helps them to revise their French vocabulary. He mends their bikes. He plays badminton with them. He irons their school shirts. He takes them to the park.
My girls love their Dad.
Based on some stories I hear, my husband is a superstar Dad. He does more than some Dads. And some Dads do more than him.
My husband has had lots of practice at being a good enough Dad. He knows that looking after children is not the easy option. He spent three or four years as a ‘stay-at-home’ Dad. Yes, I hate that expression as much as I hate ‘stay-at-home’ Mum. It’s shorthand and you know (I hope) what I mean by it.
AND YET …
UK dads are the worst in the world ….
In the media this week, I’ve seen headlines telling us that UK dads are the worst in the world. Huh? Seriously?
What’s prompted these headlines? The Fatherhood Institute’s Fairness In Families Index (FIFI) published on Monday.
FIFI findings tell us that British men will spend 24 minutes caring for children, for every hour done by women. This makes UK parents officially the worst in the developed world at sharing their childcare responsibilities.
Read those words again ….
“officially the worst … at sharing their childcare responsibilities“.
That does NOT in itself make UK Dads the worst Dads in the world. It is simply an indicator of the amount of childcare done by men and women. (By the way, Portuguese men do the most: 39 minutes for every hour done by women).
There are many reasons why UK Dads don’t spend as much time caring for their children as in other countries. Though by the way, we do come fifth in the table for sharing housework!
Why don’t UK dads do more?
In the UK, the lack of childcare responsibilities is not because dads aren’t interested in looking after their children. In general, dads want MORE opportunities to look after their children. However we have some major factors holding us back:
- the gender pay gap (UK men earn 17% more than women)
- number of men in part-time work; only 25% of part-time workers are men
- the unequal parenting leave system (though shared parental leave is a step in the right direction)
- high cost of childcare
- mother-centric family services.
Although the Fatherhood Institute did share this analysis when they published their findings, some elements of the British media decided that a bit of Dad bashing made for better headlines.
What about you? Are UK dads the worst in the world? If you agree that UK dads are NOT the worst in the world, share this article.