Sunday, July 5, 2015

21st Century Child Care

Man-care. Stay at home dads. Paternal leaves after a child is born. That is the new trend . I’ve been doing some thinking about the changing face of our society and childcare since more dads are raising children than ever before.

My comments here have to do with the differences between men and women. We are not the same. We are different. We have different personalities. Our values differ. Our approach to problems, our social skills, our interests are all different. In part it is those differences that attract us to one another.
I found an article on the web and the author stated the following: “In reading the research on personality traits it appears that three traits are more common in males: aggression, higher-stakes risk-taking, and assertiveness while sociability, harm-avoidance and  emotionality are more common in females.

In the past, boys were raised by moms and they still ended up being aggressive, risk takers and assertive. How might they be if dad raises them? Will girls become less sociable, more likely to take risks and express more aggressive qualities than their grandmothers or mothers?

Boys tend to be more crude than their female counterpart, they are competitive, they like trucks and jets and ships; they talk about things more than feelings. They migrate to action events whether it is sports, fast cars, loud engines or thriller/action movies. Will these traits become more common with dad at home?

 When I was a young parent my wife didn’t want to encourage violence so we never got the boys a gun. Well the boys didn’t need a gun. All they needed was their finger, a stick, a fork, a tinker toy or anything they felt looked like a gun in their pre-school age imagination. The girls hardly ever joined in. I wonder why? When my oldest boy was in the church nursery (he was two), another mother came to us complaining because he kept pushing her daughter down. As a two year old it’s hard to say he was being intentionally malicious. Well a few years later she had a baby boy, my how her perspective on life changed.

Men are different than women. I don’t know why but we are.  Up until quite recently women raised the children while dads were off working. Now the trend is reversing and more dads are staying home. I know when I had time to be home with my children I approached parenting different than my wife.  I gave them more freedom. If they fell, well they fell. They learned. That was my view. My responsibility was to keep them away from danger, not pad their world with feathers and foam padding. If they got into an argument I let them work it out – or until I got tired of them arguing over who was cheating at Monopoly or Risk or Sorry or Checkers or whatever board game they were playing.

My point is this: What will our boys and girls grow up to be like when their primary influence during those early formative years are under dad’s influence rather than how it always has been – with mom caring for the kids? I would dare think that dad would give their kids more freedom. I bet he’d not watch them quite as closely as mom would. I wonder how he’d handle the various issues of the day when they arise. When they reach school age and come home after school and are full of words to share from their day and spill all to dad, I wonder how mom will feel when she gets home at 6 PM and asks about their day and all they say is “it was OK mom.”

Life is a balance. There are always trade-offs. When mom is away at work and dad stays home, will these grown children saying “Let’s go to Grandpop’s house.” Instead of … “Let’s go see Nana”. I mean, if little Sally and Johnny grow up being raised by a man won’t they also want to spend time with men? After all that’s who they will associate as being their true caretaker. They are the ones investing the thousands of hours raising, caring for, laughing and crying and playing with them while mom is off working. Doesn’t it only make sense they will be the ones they desire to be with most? And if dads have spent thousands of hours with their children, won’t those children grow up reflecting DAD’S values, DAD’S habits, DAD’s mannerisms much more so than mom’s?
This study seems to say so:

“There are a variety of theories of heritability of personality (Turkheimer, 2000), but it is important to note that research has also shown that socialization and culture can impact the expression of certain traits. This means that although there may be a disposition toward males and females possessing different levels of these traits, parenting, cultural influences, and the socialization process can determine their levels of expression and development of other characteristics.”

The study points out the influence of those who raise us as well as those we spend time with. The people we spend time with impact values, views, approaches to problems, and so much more. They serve as a significant influential factor in determining how inherited traits might be expressed and gets to the heart of how “stay at home dads” might influence the growing boys and girls of the future. Research implies children raised by dads will reflect more of dad’s personality/behavior than moms. Is that ok with moms?

As the adage states with regard to men wanting chastity: be careful what you wish for. Might the same be true for all the mom’s who chose work over home? If mom is off working for 40-60 hours a week she will cultivate relationships with her colleagues and coworkers while dad is home building bonds with little Sally and Johnny. I’m not saying working mothers is not the best option. I’m not saying dads raising children is second best. I am saying the change in our culture may result in a different outcome with regard to the children raise; one that reflects more of dad’s personality and male traits than of moms.

Just some food for thought.


I’m Hers

6 comments:

  1. my best friend was raised by her dad. her mom was alive but in a mental hospital. She grew up to be very independent adventurous and confident. maybe more well adjusted.

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    1. Glad to get your perspective on this topic, Anonymous. I wonder if what you saw in your friend will be the same, or mostly the same with others. I guess we will all find out :)

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  2. Interesting food for thought. I'm sure as with all things some of the efects will be for the good of the kids and some will be to their detriment. It does make you wonder as now more girls are going to college than boys, in the future there will be more female bread winners than male. We could as a society eventually have a complete role reversal in our expectations of societal norms related to gender roles.

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    1. We might see that role reversal. I'm not convinced that is a good thing. As with most things, balance, rather than extremes, seems to be best for society. But we may have swing in the opposite direction before we swing in yet another. What I don't like is seeing women working because they have to - either because they are single moms or because one spouse can't earn enough to meet family needs.

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  3. Forgive me for trawling back through your posts and dredging up old stuff. I've just posted about this (partly) today, and I think it's a really interesting question. My situation: I work part time and take care of our little Chap, while my wife works full time. It took us a while to get to this situation, but it's really working out for us. Although we're both straight and cis-gendered, we're also a pair of feminists, so we reject traditional gender binaries in favour of doing what we're best at. I iron, she cooks, I look after the child, she runs a department. I think it's important, particularly when it's just the two of you, to make decisions based on the two of you, rather than what society expects, or what research papers generalise. There probably are differences between men and women, but they're not necessarily the same differences as between my wife and I. The result is that our situation goes against the grain a little, but we're certainly not alone, and things are changing.

    Whatever comes of it in future will be interesting to see, and will probably constitute progress. I can't imagine that cleaving to gender binaries that are simply no longer relevant to increasing numbers of people would result in positive developments, although I can easily see how it could cause problems if people insist on perpetuating the traditional roles.

    QP

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    1. QP, I enjoy the dialog. But regardless of whether or not you and your wife fit or don't fit the mainstream, my point remains - in the past.... the traditional way of raising children - they were raised predominately by women and because they spent so much time with 'mom' I assume they would have gleaned 'mom's values' during that process. In your case - regardless of your leanings - since you are 'mom' to them, don't you believe you will be the one imparting values since you're the one with them moreso than 'dad', eg. your wife? I know we raise a grandchild and that grand child imitates things we say and do all the time - they learn by watching, listening, repeating, etc. So, my speculation is: I wonder in a WLM/FLR society in which wives/females are no longer a part of the child rearing process (or have only minor input) won't that alter the product of the children they birthed?

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