We know that engaging men on gender equality is not easy, there are many barriers, but we cannot give up. There is huge pressure on boys and men to conform to the norms that constrain them as much as they do women. All children deserve the chance to live life to the full, follow their own path and choose how best to use their talents and pursue their interests.
Many men feel guilty or even ashamed of these feelings, some resentful or angry at their partner or child. A lot of new dads find themselves alone with these feelings. Helpless and unable to share with anyone, they retreat emotionally as the pain of emotional isolation is so hard to bear. As a result of this, some men also decide to leave the family.
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...
Apparently 60% of men would consider being a stay at home dad. I find that men who were raised by strong career women have more respect for equality than those who weren't. I have friends who have shared six months each of maternity/paternity leave and friends who will argue that it should be a mother's responsibility. In a progressive society, nothing beats equality.
As an equal parent in and out of working hours for over five years now, I've realised there's no fairytale quite so engaging, but quite so without actual substance, as the modern fatherhood myth. There's a convincing but untrue story about a huge army of fathers out there across the UK, all merrily doing their fair share of childcare, or maybe even more than their female partners. Just take a look outside. Where are the groups of dads sitting in coffee shops, or joining sing-along at the local library?
Taking a year off work to look after my two-year-old daughter was the best decision I have ever made. There is no way I can quantify how brilliant it is to spend all this time with a toddler who glows with joy all day. But six months in, we need to spend some time apart. Happily, the feeling is mutual.