Before my husband and I got married, we did not prepare a prenup or discuss separate bank accounts, but instead we agreed that he would take out the trash and learn to change diapers when our kids came along. Even though he usually needs a gentle reminder to take out the trash, he willingly stepped in and changed diapers at all hours of the night without hesitation. (Something that I have always been so grateful for!) The thing about my guy is that he is a really great dad. He is an active part of my children’s lives, volunteers to help take them to their different activities, to the park, and even helps at get everyone tucked in at night.
I did not give too much thought about his relationship with our kids until we moved to Morocco where Dads typically do not spend nearly as much time with their children or, at the very least, are not called to be on duty for midnight feedings and dirty diapers. It was not as though every Moroccan father was aloof and indifferent to his children because it was obvious that they loved their children dearly, but rather that certain things with the kids were still very much considered “women’s work”.
Now, in Denmark if you were even to allude to their being anything called “women’s work” you might just incite a riot from some of the most pacifistic people I have ever met. Men and women are considered equals and that definitely does not change when children enter into the picture. Instead, men are expected to help at home and with the children.
After we had our kids in the US, it was considered a bit of a no-no for my husband to ask for paternity leave. He took off one week when our daughter, Hailey, was born and only a weekend when our son, Parker came along. Here in Denmark, though, it is very common to see a man pushing a pram down the street and giving his little one a bottle with no mom in sight and no one seems surprised when he says he is going to take a month or two of leave so he can help care for a new baby.
Most families are dual income so both parents are expected to give equally at home, which is such a different dynamic from the one we experienced in Morocco where many of the Dads spent their free time at the coffee shops while the women prepared dinner and cared for the children. I remember a few times when my husband joked about how he would like to become more Moroccan but after a few looks from his wife, he stopped joking pretty quickly!
I was never really worried because I know that he loves being with our kids and would not trade the time he has with them for anything in the world, but it sure amazes me to see how different a dad’s role can be viewed from one country to the next.
I am dying to hear from you all! What is a Dad’s role in your country? Is your family similar to the cultural norm or do you do things differently?