NEWS

Fathers spend less time with their children

The amount of time mothers and fathers spend with their children varies from one country to the next. German, Italian and Greek parents spend more time with their children than do the Portuguese or French, but it is German parents who divide that time most equitably. More analytical data reveals that mothers spend more time in «traditional» parental care duties – such as bathing and feeding – and fathers prefer to help their children with their schoolwork or in playing with them. As to whether taking care of the home is as important as having a full-time job, both men and women responded that it was. In Finland, staying home to look after the family is very well-respected. The study comments that this is due to the fact that salaried work is increasingly looked down upon in modern societies, a notion exacerbated by the fact that many young people are forced by high unemployment levels to take on jobs that have little relevance to the subject of their studies. However, despite the great respect the Finns and other Europeans express for the task of taking care of home and children, it is the mothers who shoulder the greater part of responsibility. While women in Europe dedicate an average of 37 hours a week to their children and home, men give just 12 hours of their time a week to the same responsibilities. As the study notes, the «super-mom» is becoming a reality in Europe, while the model of the «modern dad» has yet to replace men’s traditional role. All the evidence points to the conclusion that the «modern dad» is essentially a theoretical concept rather than a reality. What is noteworthy is that recent comparative research conducted in 10 European countries showed that the number of unemployed fathers who participate in household tasks is especially low, irrespective of whether or not their partners work. The report argues that by refusing to pull their weight around the family home, unemployed men feel they are simply protecting their masculinity, or their traditional identities as «breadwinners.»