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Penny Booth: Househusbands?

Date:8 APR 2010


Penny BoothI am all in favour. The Times yesterday reports on a ten-fold increase in the number of househusbands based on 6% of men reporting themselves as their children's primary carer. Eighteen percent of couples surveyed by Aviva, an insurance company, declared themselves to be sharing the responsibility of childcare.

The survey conducted by Aviva was based on over 1,000 parents and 16% were in families where the woman was the main breadwinner and the family had dependent children.

What I would like to know is the age of the children and the age of the parents questioned.

There seems to be a rise in the number of men who are (mainly) staying at home looking after the children while their female partners go out to help support the family. Higher salaries for female workers may be the main issue here, and that is only fair and good, but it appears that in exchange for higher salaries women tend, according to this research, to be guilt-ridden as a result of taking on the role of 'breadwinner' and forsaking the role of child care traditionally allotted to them.

To read that a proportion of the men feel 'less like a man' as a result of these child care arrangements and 'role-reversal' seems to suggest that families in this situation may find themselves with a few potential difficulties unless the relationship is a strong one and survives the general 'bucking' of the traditional roles performed in our society.

The challenges of the changing labour market and expectations of shared care may well place more pressure on 'new' couples with babies. The result might be that we could see greater changes in the needs for support for families. We hear so much during election campaigns of what the political parties might do for us (it usually ends up being 'to' us) if we vote for them. I would like to know whether any parties have really considered changes in family functioning trends for the future.

Interestingly - why is it that the man who spends time with his children is so often lauded as a hero, where women who fail to do so seem to get the guilt-trip instead?

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.