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The Inequalities Of Parenthood


The Inequalities Of Parenthood


We live in a society of inequalities. Some people have too much money for their own good while others are forced to sleep on the street and beg to survive. When it comes to gender inequality, it is difficult to fully understand how the western society deals with the two most common genders, being male and female. There is also a gender-neutral type that has emerged, but it is currently still too early to evaluate the social discrimination – if there is any – about it. At the workplace, there is no denying that in the majority of roles, women are still paid less than men. When it comes to gender inequality, it is often portrayed as social discrimination against women. Would you be surprised to know that women are equally guilty of gender discrimination against men? As surprising as it sounds, ladies, we can sometimes be just as bad as our male fellows, especially when it comes down to pregnancy and parenting. Care to think about how to make dads feel less excluded from it? Here’s how.

The Inequalities Of Parenthood

The Magic Of The One-Sided Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a magical time in the life of a woman, and, as a result, is often described as a one-side only experience. While the process of pregnancy is glorified, it often comes as a surprise for future mums-to-be to discover that the experience is actually not as pleasant as the image that the media gives of it. However, you will find plenty of books and testimonials from mothers explaining how they’ve experienced their pregnancy and how they’ve prepared for it. There is no denying that pregnancy can be tiring and difficult at times, and every mother will know that however natural the biology of pregnancy is supposed to be, it doesn’t make it an easy period. Morning sickness, painful joints, and baby brain, to name just a few, are common issues that pregnant women deal with. However, doesn’t it feel a little overstated to glorify mothers-to-be for a physical function that their body is built to deal with? After all, pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but it isn’t a miracle nor a magical moment. It’s life. Others have done it before you, and plenty will after you.

Pregnancy Is A Team Effort

What is even more surprising during the pregnancy, is how little interest is given to the future father-to-be. There are even sayings that accuse fathers of not being able to love their children as much as mothers do because they didn’t carry them for nine months. It’s important to get things clear for the sake of gender equality. Pregnancy is not a proof of love for your child. It’s a function of your body, and more importantly, it’s a function that your body wouldn’t be able to take without the contribution of the father. In short, you don’t get pregnant on your own. Don’t use it as a way to prove that mothers are better parents. Fathers too love their baby and care for them. There is plenty of information around to help future dads to support you through the pregnancy, through birth and then to look after the baby.

The Inequalities Of Parenthood

A World View Of Maternity And Paternity

At a social level, the disparities are significant, not only between genders but also between countries. Indeed, the UK has one of the worst maternity pay systems in Europe. In the UK, mothers receive 90% of their earnings for the first six weeks, and then after 39 weeks, the leave is unpaid. In comparison, Croatia provides mothers with six months of decent maternity leave pay, which is a big difference. Additionally, dual parental leave policies are very different from a country to another. In Sweden, for example, both parents are entitled to a total of 480 days of leave paid at 80% of their normal wage, on top of the 18 weeks that are reserved for mothers only. When you compare it to the two weeks of paternal leave in the UK, you can’t help but feel that the British society doesn’t take dads seriously. 

A World View Of Raising Happy Children

Additionally, aside of parental leave, there are other factors to take into consideration when it comes to raising children, such as how family-friendly the society is. Nordic countries in Europe are perceived as extremely family-friendly, with free schooling policies and baby-friendly public areas. In Norway, mothers-to-be receive a parcel from the Norwegian government that contains nappies, clothes, baby food, and cleaning products as well as pregnancy equipment. When registering their babies to the local nursery, parents also receive – still in Norway – a little book to help them bring up their child in a more tolerant approach. The book explains how to describe heterosexual, homosexual and monoparental families to young children.

The Inequalities Of Parenthood

Parents Are Not Socially Equal

While everybody knows of the stay-at-home mums, stay-at-home dads have a more difficult time of it. Indeed, to take just a simple example, some public toilets in the UK only offer a changing room in the women’s bathrooms. This makes it difficult for dads to look after their babies without catching odd looks. Additionally, stay-at-home dads tend to be mocked by society, and often portrayed as lazy. They don’t always have the possibility to join any supportive group, as most parenting groups are mum-focused only. There is no denying that there is a lack of acceptance, especially from mothers, towards dads who prefer to look after their children. And this is, at the best of times, an unacceptable social behaviour. Instead, we should be embracing the gender shift.

Making Your Parenting Experience An Example Of Gender FairnessThe Inequalities Of Parenthood


Last, but not least, is the importance of gender stereotypes. Just as pregnancy places the mother into a position of superiority as a parent, following parenting gender clichés already puts your child into an unjustified social box. For instance, while you may be delighted about having a baby girl or a boy, try to avoid the inevitable pink or blue monochrome fashion statement. Children like all sorts of colours and games, so don’t force-feed them gender clichés. Little boys can play with dolls just like little girls can love trucks. Rejecting the social stereotypes is the best way to help your child to grow with an open-mind and to avoid the future gender inequalities of the workplace or parenthood.


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Amy Louise
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