Here is the contradiction: Society wants men to spend more time with their kids and families (believe me, at least once a week I get a comment like "Oh it's good to see daddy being in charge" when in public), but employers and government do next to nothing to support them. I believe we need some fundamental changes here...
I recently heard a good story from someone about becoming a dad. After his child was delivered the man was handed the tiny baby, as the midwife did so she quickly checked the sex, and proudly said 'here's your big strong boy.' The father wondered if the midwife had delivered a girl whether she would have said 'here's your big strong girl.' Right from the first seconds of being born we are judged and compartmentalized.
There were nights the crying got so bad, I hoped my son would stop breathing altogether. There were worse nights than that. And the guilt I felt- for those thoughts, and for my inability to help my son- further fuelled my suffering. I felt as though I deserved to hurt. Then one day in our son's second year, my wife convinced me that we should take him to the clinic...
As someone who works with men and boys, these two descriptions of couvade, inspire and excite me. Our ancestors knew the importance of having the father bond with the baby as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. The reduction in testosterone shows how this is a biological and evolutionary imperative.
When did we change the definition of 'good father" to include men who murder the mother of their children? When did it begin to include men who commit murder in front of their children? When did it begin to include men who are convicted of child sexual abuse? When did we extend the term "good" to fathers who have no contact with their children?
One million children going without an adequate education would be unacceptable and a cause for considerable public anger to be directed towards the Government... But one million fathers are absent from the lives of their children. The presence and influence of a father is of far greater importance than a school teacher.
At my children's own, otherwise wonderful school, Mothers Day means card-making and an annual gift giving rally, where each child can stow away a beautifully wrapped gift. Come Fathers day, what happens? Nothing. Apparently, the reason for this is that someone at the school decided it was unfair to the children without fathers.