It’s been an interesting six weeks following the birth of our daughter. Not only is it a life moment with this new little person in our lives, changing sleeping patterns, and that we seem to focus more on talking about poo and pee times, but that I’ve gotten the feeling that some people perceive caring for baby as something that comes more naturally to mothers than fathers.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be a father taking care of my daughter and I, like many other men before me, am doing my best to learn about nurturing and caring for a baby through books, advice from others, and regular searches on Google. It comes down to learning by doing and listening to myself. The funny thing is that I get a sense that there’s still this engrained culture or perception that fathers do not having what it takes when it comes down to the daily chores and tasks of taking care of a baby. Warning: Gender Alert – why is it mothers are considered the caregivers while fathers are bread winners?
It’s an eye-opening feeling and experience when I talk to some people and they almost feel sorry when I have to take care of my daughter by myself. While breastfeeding is uniquely an activity that connects baby to mother and vice versa, all other essential care-giving activities can be done by both parents like bathing, diaper-changing, bottle-feeding, cleaning, and, more importantly, loving the baby. I get it… these things are nerve-racking to do by both parents, let alone a single parent. Yet, I’ve observed that people consider these activities to come more naturally to mothers (let me rephrase, women), while fathers (i.e. men) are perceived to not really have a clue about it all.
It’s too easy for guys to accept this stance that “it’s not my duty” or that “mother knows best”, which perpetuates this perception. At the same time, aside from breastfeeding (which actually isn’t as easy as one might think given all the support out there), taking care of a baby and making sure that he/she is healthy is something that can be learned and isn’t gender-specific.