This comment about the BBC gender pay gap made by Tom Chambers was apparently taken out of context but regardless it highlights that people do still hold traditional perceptions about who the ‘bread winner’ in a family is. The man.
There is nothing incorrect in the statement Tom made which clearly reflects his own situation. Many men do support their families and many women stay at home and work really hard to raise their children whilst often also working irregular or anti social part time hours to help financially support their family.
But what about the thousands of households, just like my own, where the traditional family arrangement has been turned on its head, where the woman is the ‘bread winner’ and it is the man who has the often more challenging task of raising the children whilst also working anti social part time hours.
Poor Tom has found himself inadvertently caught up in a wider issue which is that society still hasn’t managed to normalise in its mindset that men are just as capable of raising the children whilst women are just as capable of taking on the corporate world and putting that bread on the table.
Of course many in my generation see this as the norm and also a bit of a given, we are equal after all, but it is surprising how many still do not.
In recent years the media has been fascinated with the ‘rise of the stay at home dad’ treating it almost as a strange phenomenon, not a simple evolution of the family arrangement as women begin to be treated more equally in the work place.
We ourselves have been greeted with puzzled faces when we explain that I work full time whilst my husband skilfully juggles the school run, looking after the twins, clubs, housework, dinner etc whilst also working part time in the early hours of the morning. It is as though people and especially those of older generations don’t know how to place it in their minds, ‘is she a bad mum?’ ‘Is he less of a man?’ The traditional views which have been engrained on our society prove hard to escape.
Yet to me and many in my generation any change towards equality which benefits the overall family unit is a positive thing. Women can earn more than men and men can care for their children just as well as women so why would we not do so if it suites everyone involved.
What matters is that the bills are paid, the children are fed and loved and the parents are happy and fulfilled, this doesn’t have to be achieved through a traditional set up and what’s more in 2017 it sometimes can’t be. It doesn’t matter who takes on what responsibilities and all are equally as vital to making the family function and prosper, both financially and emotionally.
In a hundred years I believe and hope that it will be the ‘norm’ for as many men to be stay at home dads as mums and for women to earn equal salaries to men in like for like situations. These are the evolutionary years in the changing face of the family and I for one, rather than being angry about the inevitable transition from one form of normal to another, feel proud to be contributing towards making the change and normalising flexibility and equality within parenting.
Choice is what matters not roles or stereotypes, choice and equality to make it work for you and your family.
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