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Smart Woman: Share the Load with Your Mate

September 6, 2011

Smart Women:  Teach Men to Help Out

by Phillip White, Birthnavigators.com

Women who do not involve their partners in preparation for childbirth and who don’t get them up to speed are setting their men up to be poor spouses and fathers.  Men need to be involved day one with parenting, so the pregnancy and childbirth generate an excellent test of a man’s willingness to be flexible and to take on more share responsibilities.  This experience should be considered a team effort; therefore, the decisions and the planning should be a joint effort.  No mom needs to be the Supermom.  Studies show how unhealthy that is for women.

I’ve found that many women group together and push the guy out of the picture; this is especially evident in antenatal classes.  They may not do this knowingly, but they do it in practice.  They don’t engage the guy, and he is left wanting.  Guys should be brought up to speed, and know how to handle all the daily activities of caring for a baby.  Women who don’t share these very practical responsibilities will learn that they have created a helpless man, and that can carry over into the rest of their relationship.

Woman today are, for the most part, sharing the responsibilities for earning income, so it is natural that men and women should share all the responsibilities of the house, the childcare, the parenting, and all that comes up.  Men shouldn’t be let off the hook – they need to contribute.  The more men are exposed to, with regard to family, chores and household management, the better.  These old fashioned ideas of black and white roles and responsibilities don’t work in modern society.  No one lives at the Cleavers anymore.

If women want to lessen their loads, and not have to be super moms, doing all the household chores inside the home, and all the baby care, and all the parenting, then they need to stop leaving their men uneducated about birth and fatherhood.  Women need support, and going back to the mindset that men should earn the income, take care of the car and yard, and leave everything else to the gals is stupid.

I argue that the marriage vows are a set up for disaster if men are not well rounded and know how to handle things (same for women).  “In sickness and health, for richer or poorer,” etc.  Men should be able to cook, clean, run the house, drop kids off for school, childcare, work a job, get the dry cleaning, pay the bills, change the diapers (funny), feed the baby (more fun), clean up after the baby, set and enforce the rules (parenting) – or anything a woman does.  In sickness, when the woman is down, then everything can be done.  The dishes shouldn’t stack up in the sink.  The house should be picked up, and everything be able to operate without a woman having to do it all.

Women you should be able to take the car in for service, or learning to change a tire, cut the yard, and change the filter on the furnace.  You need to be capable to take care of everything if your man is down.  Men lose their jobs, and become ill also you know, so it’s best to have an open mind regrading two incomes to support a family.  What’s the difference here?

Childbirth expectations are a big deal.  This time period sets the course for a couple’s lives together.  Teaching men nothing about baby care and breastfeeding, and the value of one’s choices in how and where they birth their babies has long term psychological implications.  I’ve heard and seen how women will completely dominate this arena, and expect virtually nothing from the guys.  The more a woman takes on and doesn’t share the weight of this load, the more she can expect him not to share the load after the baby comes.  We don’t need the mindset of the 1950’s.  If you think that you are blessing your partner by partaking in these old-fashioned role differentiations, you may be sadly mistaken.  Cultivate an on-going dialogue between yourself and your spouse with these issues and check in frequently for updates.

Why should women think that men shouldn’t be involved in their health care?  Should men be able to support and protect women’s consumer choices?  That’s one of the main reasons my wife and I wrote Men at Birth.  Our point wasn’t about just teaching men about pregnancy and childbirth, it was for developing men’s awareness of the health care services available, and the lack of options medicine is offering.  We wanted men to know they have a place for making a difference.  Some men end up as stay at home dads, and that shows the profound change society has made in the past century.

Women if you share our choices for superior care, then you should recommend our book.  It is a good way to take the right step in encouraging your man, and other men in your life to become a great partner and father.  Men will learn that they are equally responsible for planning and making choices that affect the whole family.  Don’t think for one second that taking all the responsibility on yourself that you are being smart when you are actually being chauvinistic or sexist*, and that to your own harm.

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* The word “sexism” is defined as “attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles and discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restricted job opportunities; especially, such discrimination directed against women,” according to dictionary.com.

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