Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why Do Men Give So Little Thought to the Choice to Parent?

Fatherhood? Oh, go on then
. . . I discovered that there are many men who, like me, feel ambivalent about the prospect of parenthood. And what struck me as remarkable was how these men, many with highly demanding jobs that oblige them to make significant decisions on a daily basis, have given less thought to starting a family than they did to choosing their next company car. Crazy? Perhaps. Uncommon? Surprisingly not.
. . .
Modern British males are culturally hardwired to have the strongest opinions on all manner of relatively insignificant things, from our football team to our favourite brand of lager. So why this passivity when it comes to contemplating fatherhood? “It’s not about being passive,” says Dirk Flower, a psychologist specialising in families and children. “For many men, it’s a simple delegation of responsibility. They see themselves as the provider and anything on the home front as the wife’s responsibility, and that includes the decision to start a family.”

The responsibilities of fatherhood in the 21st century are more burdensome than ever before – and rightly so. “Traditionally, men were only there for the conception,” says Dr David Cohen, a psychologist and author of The Father’s Book. “Nowadays, it's expected for them to be at the birth itself, and fathers are also socially obliged to play a much greater role in terms of daily childcare – something that would have been unthinkable even a generation ago.”
. . .
It seems to me that; until we become fathers, we just don’t give the idea of having children a lot of thought. And so if it comes down to a choice between losing the woman we love, or having a baby that there’s a good chance we’ll grow to be crazy about, well, surely we’d be crazy not to. My only issue is that I personally don’t feel that strongly about it either way. And deep down, there’s a part of me that’s worried that for something as momentous as this, perhaps I ought to.
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