When I was a little girl back in the late ’70s/early ‘8os, my mom stayed home with us and my dad went to work. That’s how it was for most of my friends, too, so I didn’t think much of it.
When my mom went to work part-time once I started first grade, I didn’t think much of that, either. I had a few friends whose moms worked, and it seemed fine to me. Kids usually accept the world as they know it.
So I wasn’t too surprised to hear about some new research showing that most kids think it’s cool for Mommy to work or stay home–but they tend to have negative stereotypes of Daddy taking care of them, such as stay at home dads. This is according to a study by University of Maryland researchers, as reported today by ABC News in “Mommy Wars: A New Chapter.” (The story’s title annoys me, because it really has nothing to do with mommies being at war. But whatever. It’s TV news.)
On one hand, I’m thrilled to know most kids don’t think badly of moms for going to work, or automatically expect them to stay home full-time. That bodes well for my relationship with my daughter. It also gives me hope for the little girls of today who won’t be saddled with quite as much guilt when they grow up to be the working moms of tomorrow.
But it’s disheartening to hear that children think daddies don’t make good caregivers.
I think this negative stereotype can be attributed to what they know. While more fathers stay home with their children now than they did when I was growing up, it’s still fairly uncommon. Also, the media and our culture often reinforce the notion that mommies are born nurturers and daddies are dummies when it comes to running a household and raising children.
Personally, I am immensely grateful and happy that my husband chooses to care for our daughter while working full-time out of our home. (You read that right. Full-time!) It’s not easy, but he manages it with lots of patience, love, and creativity.
Not only does this situation make me feel 1,000 times better as a working mom (knowing she’s in the hands of someone who loves her as much as I do)–it also helps Cassie see how Daddy can care for her just as well as Mama can. She’ll grow up with a broader view of caregiving roles and a more open perspective on how to be a good parent.
What do your kids think of fathers as primary caregivers? I’d love to hear about the conversations this research sparks in your home. If you get a chance, post your thoughts here.