We Need Men to Speak Up About Paid Leave and Child Care

Let’s start right here on Medium

Kerala Taylor

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Photo by SeventyFour via Canva.

In late April 2020, I stumbled across an article in The Nation entitled, “The Men Pushing to Open the Economy Clearly Don’t Need Child Care.”

The story was both funny and infuriating, and it resonated deeply with me. At the time, my son’s preschool and my daughter’s elementary school were both closed indefinitely. My partner was taking advantage of a seven-week furlough to watch them while I worked from home.

I loved having a “house husband.” But we both knew the honeymoon would soon be over. Once he was called back to his hand therapy clinic, I had no idea what I was going to do.

I knew I’d likely end up doing what so many other parents were doing — juggling child care and Zoom school and full-time work, while slowly losing my mind because, as the author of The Nation article put it, “being a full-time teacher is incompatible with being any other kind of full-time employee, even if you are working from home.”

When I finished reading the article, I Googled the author, Elie Mystal, to learn more about her and was shocked to discover that “she,” in fact, was a man. As an advocate for working parents, I’d read quite a few articles about our broken child care system in my time, and never — I repeat, never — had I once read one written by a man.

Sure, the Internet is a big place, but a cursory search will show you that the topic is covered almost exclusively by women. As a case in point, just scan the bylines on The New York Times’ “Child Care” topics page.

The fact that men rarely speak up about child care, despite the fact that 92.5% of fathers work, should be surprising. Except that it’s not. Though 72.1% of mothers also work, child care is still seen as a woman’s job — whether it’s providing the care (on an underpaid or unpaid basis), finding the care, or coordinating the care logistics.

That’s why so many more working women left their jobs or reduced their hours during the pandemic than working men, why women take more career breaks than men do, why working mothers spend 50% more time each day caring for children than working fathers, and why women are typically the ones who are expected to flex…

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Kerala Taylor

Award-winning writer. Interrupting notions of what it means to be a mother, woman, worker, and wife. Subscribe: https://keralataylor.substack.com