Changing diapers, strolls in the park and setting up play dates with other caregivers and parents have pretty much been a female-dominated pastime for decades. However, things change over time and societal norms, as well as economics, dictate that either party can now be the primary breadwinner, as gone are the days when women alone stayed home all day looking after the kids.
Now 20 years into the new millennium, and stay-at-home dads are a dime a dozen in the United States and other developed nations, but what about Jamaica? Is this feasible and is it even acceptable in our society that thrives on not upsetting the apple cart and holding on to certain traditions and norms when it is convenient to do so? Is it OK for a Jamaican man to be a stay-at-home father?
The short answer is, why not? While there are no statistics available locally as to the actual figures, the number is steadily growing as sometimes it makes more sense for one parent to stay home because the cost of nurseries or private child care may be more than what you actually earn.
Additionally, anything women do, some men feel they can do better. Except for the biological function of breastfeeding, a man is quite capable of handling everything else associated with childcare and child-rearing once he is committed and sets his mind to it.
The crying, temper tantrums, poopy diapers, not wanting to have a nap meltdown, breaking stuff and making a mess is all part and parcel of the joys of parenting. So, what if they did not have time to prepare dinner, fold clothes or clean the house. Welcome to the world of deciding what tasks are more important and which ones have to stay for another day.
It all sounds nice, but many Jamaicans have a problem with the concept of a stay-at-home dad. There are men and even women who see it as emasculating the males and turning them into ‘maama men’. Worse, some see it as a man looking for an excuse not to hold down a job and be a good provider. They, therefore, see a stay-at-home father as less than or even akin to being ‘wutliss’.
What persons with these views do not comprehend is that by devaluing the work of a stay-at-home person, you are devaluing the role of a full-time caregiver. How can it be nurturing and positive when a woman does it, but demeaning and degrading when a man has it covered? That makes no sense, but then common sense is not so common anymore.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of BUZZ or its employees.