A common question asked of same-sex couples who have children is who takes on specific roles within the household, in short, who plays the role of mum and who plays the role of dad?
I like to challenge this by reminding people that neither role in any household is more important than the other – both perform the role of parent and both are equally valid in raising children. However, two-dad households tend to challenge the 1940’s norm of gender roles of parenting…
Same-sex households like many households around the world confront similar issues about how to balance work demands, family expectations and some time alone; while all in all wanting to be active parents for your children.
Active parenting is about being there for your child. It is about being present so that when they need you, they know they can reach out. Such synergy between a parent and a child is not about gender but rather about making time, providing authentic feedback and actively engaging in your child’s wellbeing.
So when asked who is the mum, are we really asking who is the one that does the school run; or do we ask who is the soft and gentle all loving hub of hugs… both questions are insulting to all. Can a dad not be the primary driver and dasher to school and sporting events? Is the role of gentle caregiver in a home the exclusive domain of the mother?
The great challenge that same-sex families give us in society is the challenge to acknowledge the role of parenting is a shared burden that brings joy and pain to all regardless of gender and household make-up. I think it is time for society to define fatherhood in the same glowing terms as motherhood!
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