Rehel’s article on paternity leave redefined the role of the caregiver. She says, “the gendered division of labor that occurs when men and women parent together is far from biologically inevitable. We have evidence that men and women can do “parenting” in the same way” (114). I found that many people would usually use the “biology” excuse when it came down to parenting, however she is very clear in disproving that theory. I love that the playing field is set equal and that the father has the ability to parent and care for the child as much as the mother. Rehel also mentions the role that income plays in parenting and unpaid labor. She says, “often in terms of income, has the most power, enabling that partner to opt out of unpaid labor” (112). In this scenario, if the father is contributing more to the family in terms of income as well as if he is greatly involved in parenting, there will be great controversy in terms of the power dynamic within the relationship.
That idea perfectly links Townsend’s article, “Marriage, Work, and Fatherhood in Men’s Lives,” because of his interview with Ralph. Ralph was a playful parent and he noticed, “One parent seems like the disciplinarian and the other one is not. And in my family I am. And my wife doesn’t understand: “Why won’t the children listen to me?” Because it’s always: ”I’m gonna tell your father.” She had to call me here [at work]. I’ve had to talk to them on the phone. And they straighten right up” (256). As the power imbalance grows, the kids notice that there are different bonds that are held with each parent. This was the same in my household. This exact situation, actually, happened several times, where my mom would have to call my dad at work and have him talk to us because we were misbehaving. At the same time, I felt like I was closer to my dad because he was more playful and relatable.
It’s always very difficult to find the perfect balance, however both of these articles gave us hints that it was possible. A father doesn’t have to be the helper; he can also be a primary care giver. As we saw in the film in class, men learn through experience, just as anybody would when dealing with a new addition to the family. As long as the willingness to parent is there, then the ability to do so is as well.