While many expect mothers to take a few months off of work to take care of their newborn, a guy taking paternity leave isn’t as common.
That’s why Tom Stocky’s retrospective on taking four months paternity leave from his job at Facebook is so interesting.
The most striking thing that Stocky noticed during his time taking care of his daughter was that people were more willing to say negative things to him than they would to a mother taking time off of work.
For instance, people didn’t hold back on telling him their negative preconceptions of stay-at-home fathers:
“I remember one unusually direct comment from a woman who told me, ‘It’s too bad you can’t earn as much as your wife so she can be the one to stay home.’ I don’t mind the assumption about earning potential, but I do mind the one about my wife being the preferred at-home parent.”
While Stocky found that he got the hand of raising his daughter after a few months, he felt himself pushed back to work by the parenting communities that are more friendly to mothers than fathers:
“Despite all that, though, there were daily nudges pushing me away from my home and back toward an office. Most of the parent groups were called ‘mummy groups’ — my favourite was mums (Mothers Offering Mothers Support) Club, which managed to work mum/mother into its name 3 times thanks to the acronym. The parenting websites and parent/child classes were mostly targeted to mums, too.”
He also felt that mothers didn’t trust him around their children, which led to some awkward encounters:
“I didn’t like being the only dad at the playground, getting cautiously eyed as mums pulled their kids a bit closer. It probably didn’t help that I tried to lighten the mood the first time by saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to nab your kid, I already got this one.’ I felt awkward at the mid-day baby music class, like I was impinging on an established mum circle, so I switched to the 5pm one that had more dads.”
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