At a dinner recently, the hubbs and I were doing our usual tag-team of eating and taking turns to look after the very restless 1-year old. A fellow diner, a lady in her mid-50s, who has kids in their mid 20s, remarked that fathers these days are so much more hands on. In her time, as in my parents’, fathers were so different, leaving the mothers to do all if not most of the work. I’d never thought much of this before, but I am so glad that this is not the trend anymore, because it’s definitely good for the kids and for the family unit as a whole with more fatherly involvement. And, of course, easier on the mother too.
So I sought out one of the BILs to ask him why or how he thought that we’ve progressed to this stage. He has has 2 boys himself, and has a special interest in such topics having done research on various fatherhood issues (you can read the abstract of one of his works, “Men’s Transition to Fatherhood: First-time Fathers’ Experiences with Fathering, Marriage and Work-life Issues” on the Dads for Life site here), and who is also actively involved in the MCYS initiative, Dads for Life. He shared that research shows that the new trend is due to the influence from “the West”, and I’m probably simplifying it quite a bit because it was over dinner with 4 adults and 5 kids, and whenever there are young kids around it’s always tough to have indepth conversations!
I’m also thinking that perhaps it’s a knock-on effect of increased gender equality in our society, which the men really had coming to them once they started carrying womens’ bags for them while shopping. Kidding. Seriously though, there’s also a shift in the working culture to one with a better work-life balance, and more emphasis is being placed on the family, (even if it might be changing a little TOO slowly for our liking). Probably, it’s a mish-mash of several reasons, but what’s more important is that the children definitely benefit from it.
Last week I asked a few mummies whether they thought that having children meant that there was more to argue about for married couples. I ask this because when you don’t have kids, you only need to agree on so much, like where to live, what movie to see, where to go for dinner tonight. When I think back about life without children, it seems so simple now. With children, you need to really work together and be aligned (and consistent) in discipline, education, even enrichment classes, or clothing, baby gear! And it’s easy to say, yeah we both believe that children should be disciplined, but when it comes down to the specific situation, it’s not always as simple to come to a unanimous approach.
What the mummies said, was that although there are definitely more challenges, and some days you wish that everyone would just leave you alone (or maybe that was just me), it’s these tribulations and obstacles that make the marriage stronger and give us opportunities to understand and love our husbands more. There is no doubt that children can cause rifts and tension in any relationship, but the benefits are also infinite-fold. As husband and wife, we have never felt more the drive to work together as a team for the better of the children as individuals, and for the family as a unit. And for every day that is physically and emotionally draining, there are also days so filled with love, laughter and blessedness that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Or when there isn’t all that at least there’s make-up sex. Just kidding.
As women in Singapore, we are so lucky. We can, generally speaking, choose to have children, we can choose not to have children, we can choose to have them in half or full day childcare, we can choose to have hired help in the home, or part time help, and we can also choose to work or not to work, simply because we have these options.
And, women of today now also have a more wholesome family life with fathers ever so willing to pitch in and be more involved. Gotta love it!