The quick and dirty: in the Netherlands, about 25% of male employees are part-time workers. Some of these men have taken to the idea of the “Daddy Day” – a day that Dutch men take off of work so that they can stay home with their child and do the most important work – taking care of their child.
First of all – hooray! Good work, dudes! And second – the United States isn’t ready for it.
Robert Franklin, Esq., of Fathers & Families, nails the main idea by saying “So Daddy Day has become an institution in Dutch culture, and that must mean that Dutch women are open to the concept of fathers caring for children.” This is my focal point of the article – that in the United States, we’re still not used to the idea of men and fathers being primary care-givers. When we do see a father doing the parent “thing” – picking their kid up from school, taking their kid to the park, going out to dinner with their child – we assume the parents are divorced or that the mother is somehow tragically gone. Otherwise, why on earth would a dad do these things?
The problem in the United States, as I see it, is that we’ve swung the pendulum too far both ways for both genders. In the 50’s, mothers and fathers (and kids!) were exactly what you’d expect from a black-and-white family sitcom: the father wears a suit to work every day, and on the weekends, mows his lawn and watches sports. The mother spends her day tending to the family. The kids were seen-and-not-heard.
Somewhere in those crazy 1960’s, the Women’s Movement took off, and went through multiple waves. At first, the goal was to change the system to allow for women in typically-non-female roles. Then, the focus became changing the roles to fit both genders. Yet, somewhere along the way, legislation changed for women in the workplace, but on the contrapositive (or something like that) – not for men at home.
It’s like we’ve decided as a culture that for one gender to “win,” the other gender must lose. Why must women “winning” in the workplace mean men lose at home – in legislation and in image? What this “Daddy Day” in the Netherlands shows us is that men clearly want to be seen as care-givers.
Wouter Bos, a four-day-a-week partner at an accounting firm KPMG, (and also just so happens to be a former finance minister) says that “More men want time with the family, but without giving up their careers. And more women want careers, but without giving up too much time with the family.” What Bos suggests is the win/lose gender model that I noted above – but coming from the Netherlands’ admitted “conservative” gender roles of the past, might be what they need. In the United States, however – we need a system that allows for men and women to be perceived and treated legally as primary caregivers. But, I suppose, changing image takes time – and the United States is still a young country, relatively.
Plus, there’s the whole divorce legislation mess to worry about. I couldn’t find any ironclad recent numbers, but it looks like the United States’ divorce rate is (“much”?) higher than that of the Netherlands. I mean, according to Divorce.com – who may or may not be a good source for stats.
In any event – check out the F&F article linked below. If you’re interested in taking a Daddy Day – it might be time to move your family to the Netherlands. I heard it’s nice this time of year.
Sauce: Fathers & Families