Thursday, December 4, 2008

Parenting is not just for mothers anymore.

I have been reading a lot of articles on how to retain women in academia and how to make science more family-friendly. I've read about the daycare argument. Some people think affordable daycare is the solution to all problems while others believe it is not the incentive women need to go back to work. I've read about clock-stopping policies for tenure-track professors. This would allow for longer maternity leave, which many people seem to think is what every mother wants. I've read about debates on how to make it possible to be in academia part-time, how to give grant incentives for women with children, how to keep women productive and up to date while on extended leave to allow them to return to work. The common denominator in all I've read seems to focus on how to enable mothers to raise their children and work. Somehow I keep asking myself: where do the fathers come in? The more I read about how difficult the situation is portrayed, the more I'm amazed that people think that to have it all means to do it all by oneself. What happened to the paradigm that "it takes a village to raise a child"? Or at least a family...

I come from a culture that believes that one cannot do it all. My relatives always ask me how I can manage to work, cook, clean the house and take care of the children without live-in maids or extensive family at close proximity. Even my cousin who "stayed at home with the kids" had a maid to cook & clean AND a nanny. I always have to politely point out that I'm not all alone. These days, my husband seems to be doing most of the cooking (as I'm usually nursing my 7 month-old during food preparation time) AND most of the cleaning (I get to do the laundry). We engage our 2.5 year-old in all these "activities" to keep him entertained. We also send our kids to daycare full-time so we can both work during the week. We are both responsible for the well being of our family. Isn't that what parenting is all about?

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