There was an article in the paper this morning, that said that children consider their father less important than five years ago. That is: there are now more children who consider only their mother as playing an important role in their upbringing. This is the result of research by TNS-Nipo, the largest Dutch institute for market research. They did the same research five years ago, interviewing five hundred children and their parents. In 2000, more than half of the children considered both their parents as most important. This has now decreased to 43%. Only 4% of the children mention only their father. This was 5% in 2000.
A week ago, there was a program on t.v. that showed the results of research that had been done among Dutch women between 27 and 42 years of age. Only 28% of them said they wanted children in the future, no doubt. The rest had doubts. 79 percent thought that young children have the right to have their mother around as much as possible. 72 percent thought a demanding job cannot be combined with having children.
Dutch population is not growing too well. More and more people are deciding not to have children, or are having fewer children than they'd really like. In the meantime, the percentage of people older than 65 is growing. Fewer working people are having to pay for more old people. Pretty soon, all people of working age, women as well as men, will be needed on the job market.
As the tv program stated, women of childbearing age have a problem. They are expected to have kids. The country needs children to be born. They are also expected to work. The country needs everybody to keep the economy running. More people need to work so we can still afford our social security system. But women find it almost impossible to combine work and children. And last year the government changed the rules for daycare, with the intention to make it more clear to parents, employers and government who should pay what. No matter what the intention was, the result has been that daycare has become incredibly expensive and less parents are using it now, because daycare can actually cost more per day than one person working can earn in that day. Staying home with your child and not earning any money is cheaper.
The above should clearly indicate that there is a problem. Employers should make it easier to combine a job with raising kids. The government should invest in cheaper daycare options, so that parents can actually afford to have a job. But what I'm missing in the discussion that's going on is: what about the fathers?
Everybody keeps talking about the trouble women are in, having to choose between working and having children. And indeed, women are the ones getting pregnant and needing maternity leave. But women don't have children all by themselves. There are fathers too. Why doesn't anybody mention that perhaps more fathers should be involved in raising their children? Why can't fathers stay home for part of the week and work parttime, just like their partners? I don't believe for a second that fathers can't parent just as well as mothers. The one thing they can't do is breastfeed - but that is a problem that can be solved.
It really bothers me that this is made to seem a problem of women only, whereas I see it as a problem that everybody should be working on.