Because I’m self-employed, and disinclined to work much in the early afternoon, I often go for walks around my urban neighbourhood. In descending order of frequency, these are the sort of people I see while out and about:
- Female seniors
- Male seniors
- Mothers and their young children
- Work-age women
- Work-age men
With the exception of my brother and nephew, I don’t think I’ve seen a single father-and-child out walking or on a playground during work hours. If I have, they represent less than 1% of the parents I see.
In 80% of Canadian families, women do at least ‘most’ of the childcare work. Apparently this percentage doesn’t change even when women are working in the paid labour market.[more]
Isn’t everybody getting screwed here? The mothers, though approaching equality in the workplace, still must do all the work in the home. On the other hand, fathers apparently aren’t getting and/or taking the opportunity to raise their children. As far as I can tell, the only winners in this setup are the young, stay-at-home moms I see, who are apparently only caring for one or two children. Of course, they’re not even winners if they want to work but their husbands want them to stay home. I know I’m not factoring in the 50% of married couples who get divorced, but let’s ignore single parenthood for now.
Among the young, childless couples I know, the women are unanimous in their intent to be the primary caregiver. This pattern follows among the couples with children, in all but one case. That one, outlying sample is the only rational one I’ve observed. Each parent works 2.5 days, and the other cares for their child. Now, of course, you’ve got to be well-employed and be frugal to make this work, but they’re both. They also seem to split the housework fifty-fifty.
So what’s the conclusion? Why don’t I see more fathers on my afternoon walks? There are several possibilities:
- While women have become much more empowered in the workplace, men are not enjoying the same opportunities in the home.
- Men do not want to be the primary caregiver, and would prefer to work.
- It makes better economic sense for the father to work, as he can earn more money.
I imagine that it’s some of each. If I were a father, though, I think I’d worry that I was missing a lot of my kid’s development.