Double standards… in parenting

parenting double standards

I just recently spent a long weekend with my friends, leaving my one-year-old at home with his Dad. I have been spending time on my own or with friends (without my husband and child) every so often since he was three months old. It’s so important as a mother – and particularly a new mother – to enjoy time to breathe and to re-cooperate, whether that’s in the form of self-care, a weekend away, a holiday, an adult-only activity or something else entirely. It’s easy to forget that you have an identity other than being ‘Mum.’

And whilst I enjoy those moments of ‘me time’, I am often bemused by the reaction to my husband having my son alone. Reactions have ranged from an incredulous ‘Oh wow you’re so lucky he is so hands-on!’ to ‘The hubby is babysitting, is he? That’s so good of him.’

It’s hard to resist rolling your eyes.

He isn’t ‘hands-on’ any more or less than I am, he is just doing what a Father should do. He isn’t babysitting his son he is parenting. Why is it when a Father looks after his child, it is seen as this wonderful, amazing thing? An achievement? A novelty?

Our approach to parenting

It’s important to note here that my husband and I split childcare, household chores and even our financial obligations down the middle, 50/50. We always have done and we will continue to do so as it suits our lifestyle, it enables financial freedom and it means that one thing we never argue about is money. We are both navigating our professional careers around parenthood and we approach every step in life as a team. This was no different when we decided to have a baby. And whilst there were certain areas we couldn’t split 50/50 (the pregnancy, the labour, the maternity leave…) we tweaked things to suit.

So where he is praised and admired for looking after his son whilst I’m away, I realised, I don’t receive the same treatment when it’s my turn. And whilst I’m not looking for a medal (I mean, some recognition would be nice from time to time!) I am questioning where the idea came from that a Father who shows up, that is present and that pulls his weight with the day-to-day tasks that parenting demands are a rarity… because surely nowadays that just isn’t the case?

What makes a good father can be as simple as love and provision. What makes a good mother is a mile-long list, full of contradictions, exceptions, and inconsistencies.


I can definitely see where the old view of Dad being the breadwinner and Mum being the childcare provider comes from. Many of us (myself included) were raised in a household where that was the case. Before my parents divorced that’s the exact set-up I had at home. Mum fed, clothed, bathed us and shipped us off to school and ran us to after-school clubs and activities. Dad worked – and when we did get to see him and spend time with him it was a novelty. He was the ‘fun’ parent and Mum… well she was the one that pulled us out of bed in the mornings to get to school on time, disciplined us and showed up to every parent’s evening, awards ceremony and assembly. She was good old dependable Mum.

I suppose in a way, I am looking to break the generational cycle of ‘Mum’ being the one that does all of the parenting, housework and life admin. My husband and I work at making sure there is a healthy balance and we hope our son will see that his parents work as a team and that we are equals. That’s the goal anyway.

Mothers are expected to do so much more but receive so much less in return for their effort. Is it so unheard of for a man to be a present parent that we must stop the presses when they do the bare minimum? This says a lot about societal standards, and how little we’ve progressed towards equality.



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