Adapting Parental Roles
Adapting Parental Roles
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Contrary to common belief, men can be just as much nurturers as women. It may contradict the premise that men have always been the hunters and women nurturers from the beginning of time and that this predisposition is encoded in our DNA. However, as society evolves and roles become less clear, both men and women have had to adapt to new circumstances. With cost of living demanding both men and women work to support their families, child-care has changed dramatically. Roles are now shared rather than separated. Sure, men may still take out the garbage bins, mow the lawn and wash the car, but they also change nappies, bath the kids and read bedtime stories.
I think this redefining of roles is a good thing, giving support to the mother and by circumstances giving men the opportunity to develop a more complete relationship with their children. Men are developing a far greater understanding of their kids and their needs and have become privy to a whole set of new rules gained by emotional interaction rather than being the ‘court of last resort’. How many times as a kid was I handed the line- ‘Wait ‘til your father gets home’. Dad never had anything to do with my upbringing apart from pay for it, putting the foot down and occasionally doing ‘men things’ with me. It was always Mum that handed out the discipline, fed, clothed and organised my life.
Having been an only child and always wanting children, I have relished the opportunity to experience everything with my kids. I was always a hands-on Dad and that was out of choice rather than any predisposed role or expectation. I loved every minute of nurturing and sharing my children’s lives. And now it’s with grandchildren.
With this shift in society have come many more changes, particularly where marriage break-ups and child custardy are concerned. In the past men where more often the cause of marriage dissolution: affairs cited as the leading cause. The woman was nearly always awarded custody, and as a result awarded the marital home and its financial upkeep. However today it’s a different situation.
Personally, I have experienced two wives that decided they no longer wanted to be married, left the marital home and their children. I have five children, all of which have grown up with me. So, how prevalent is this these days. Surprisingly it happens more than you could imagine. I have a friend who is in her forties and on a dating site. She told me the other day the last four dates she had were men whose wives left them, abandoning their kids. I was shocked, thinking that I was the only one to have this experience.
It appears changing roles has stimulated another possibility, that because men have become adept at parenting, a women can leave a marriage knowing the man will care for their children. Men have become ‘enablers’ allowing women to do what men in the past have always been able to do.
I could never leave my children, under any circumstances, and would fight tooth and nail for them. But that’s me. I simply don’t understand how a woman could wantonly leave her children, regardless of the condition of the marriage. But I guess we are all different.
I feel there is equity in sharing roles in a marriage and as parents, and I believe that we gain so much more from this outcome. I only wish dissolving marriages could be done with less damage to the children. I feel that kids are resilient and can accept just about anything provided they are loved and not made to feel abandoned. Maybe there are no rules these days, but I advocate that children and their well-being should always come first.