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TOPIC: fatherhood

Society

Can Men Help Breastfeed Their Children?

In a tribe in central Africa, male and female roles are practically interchangeable in caregiving to children. Even though their lifestyle might sound strange to the West, it offers important life lessons about who raises children — and how.

The southwestern regions of the Central African Republic and the northern Republic of Congo are home to the Aka, a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers who, from a Western point-of-view, are surprising because male and female roles are practically interchangeable.

Though women remain the primary caregivers, what is interesting is that their society has a level of flexibility virtually unknown to ours.

While the women hunt, the men care for the children; while the men cook, the women decide where to settle, and vice versa. This was observed by anthropologist Barry Hewlett, a professor at Washington State University, who lived for long periods alongside the tribe. “It is the most egalitarian human society possible,” Hewlett said in an interview.

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Diaper Diary: Why Parenting Division Of Labor Still Stinks For Moms

Why are men still avoiding tasks that women don't want to do either?

A few months ago, at the beginning of spring in Greece, I was taking a stroll with my three-year-old son at a playground in Voula, in the southern outskirts of Athens, facing the sea. Suddenly, Lorenzo ran a few meters to the beach.

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Papá, Papá, On Repeat: Are We Men Ready For Fatherhood To Change Our Lives?

How many men are willing to change their lives when they become fathers? For Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra, becoming his son's main caregiver showed just how difficult caring for a child can be.

There is a moment on Saturday or Sunday, after having spent ten hours with my kids, that I get a little exasperated, I lose my patience. I find it hard to identify the emotion, I definitely feel some guilt too. I know that time alone with them improves our relationship... but I get bored! Yes, I feel bored. I want some time in the car for them to talk to each other while I can talk about the stupid things we adults talk about.

This is what a friend tells me. He tends to spend several weekends alone with his two children and prefers to make plans with other people instead of being alone with them. As I listened to him, I immediately remembered my long days with Lorenzo, my son, now three-and-a-half years old. I thought especially of the first two-and-a-half years of his life, when he hardly went to daycare (thanks, COVID!) and we’d spend the whole day together.

It also reminded me of a question I often ask myself in moments of boredom — which I had virtually ignored in my life before becoming a father: how willing are we men to let fatherhood change our lives?

It is clear that the routines and habits of a couple change completely when they have children, although we also know that this rarely happens equally.

With the arrival of a child, men continue to work as much or more than before, while women face a different reality: either they double their working day — maintaining a paid job but adding household and care tasks — or they are forced to abandon all or part of their paid work to devote themselves to caregiving.

In other words, "the arrival of a child tends to strengthen the role of economic provider in men (...), while women reinforce their role as caregivers," says an extensive Equimundo report on Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighting a trend that repeats itself in most Western countries.

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Invisible Work: The Weight Of A Family That Men Don’t See

A father’s role is not to help the mother out, but to take on the “mental load” of knowing what needs to be done.

Last winter in Greece, I ended up spending several full days with Lorenzo, my now three-year-old son, because he had been sick and could not attend daycare. My wife is the main breadwinner in the house and I am the one who gets to leave behind work in case there are emergencies like that.

When Lorenzo got better, we went to a café in the outskirts of Athens. I envisioned a win-win situation where I could have a break — eat lunch, check emails, answer some messages — while he could play in an area designed for children — with a ball pit, tables for drawing and painting, a book corner… how important it is to have such spaces!

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LGBTQ Plus
Rosario Marina

What Life Is Like As A Trans Father

News coverage about trans fathers tends to be sensationalist. In Argentina, a group of trans dads founded a network to fight the stigma and raise awareness of their struggles.

BUENOS AIRES — Santiago Merlo was putting his daughter Lola to bed on a recent Tuesday night. “There were so many times I thought no one would love me. That trans people were not worthy of love," said the 46-year-old from the Argentine city of Córdoba. "And look at me now, building a wonderful family.”

Yes, today, Santiago is a proud trans dad.

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Society
Michela Marzano

Ethics Of Surrogacy: The Case Of Baby "Luna" Abandoned In Ukraine

Surrogacy is still considered quite controversial, especially in Italy where a story has made headlines after would-be parents renounced a baby born in Ukraine. The author says we must face the ethical (and other) questions rather than dismiss the practice as "uterus for rent."

-Analysis-

ROME — The story of the surrogate child born in Kiev, and then abandoned by its would-be Italian parents, is filled with deep sadness. No child should ever be let go.

And yet, it happens. It happens when a woman decides to give birth anonymously, and the baby is then given up for adoption. Or when a child is placed in temporary foster care, but then never returns to the family of origin. It happens with some premature-born babies who, after being kept alive with the help of sophisticated therapies, will never be picked up by their parents because of a disability. It even happens with adoption: those rare occasions when the kid is returned, putting him or her through a dramatic "double abandonment."

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Jordan
Marta Vidal

In Jordan, A Safe Space For Refugee Fathers

A group in East Amman gives men from Syria and other conflict zones an opportunity to open up and talk through the many ways they struggle.

AMMAN — Each week, a group of 15 or so refugee men meet at a community center in East Amman and sit in a circle. They laugh and cry together while sharing stories they always divide into two phases: before and after the war began.

War and protracted exile have stripped them of their traditional roles and identities as protectors and financial providers for their families. This group is a safe space in which they get to be vulnerable. They realize they're not alone — but most importantly, it's a chance to be heard.

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Germany
Julian Erbersdobler

Germany Measures Benefits Of Parental Leave For Fathers

Fathers who took parental leave spend an hour and a half more with their children every day during the first few years of their life compared to fathers who work continuously.

MUNICH — German economist Marcus Tamm has looked into the effects of parental leave. His findings: Fathers who take a break after their children's birth spend more time with them after going back to work.

Is the role of fathers who go on parental leave changing? Do you spend more time with the child in the years that follow? Or are two months too short to change that? Tamm has looked into these questions in a recent study by the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen. The results surprised the economist by the degree of difference.

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Germany
Jenny Hoch

Gatekeeper Moms, Why Some Mothers Shut Fathers Out Of Caring For Kids

MUNICH — Some women block any effort by men to take part in the raising of their children. This is often more about the mother's own feeling of powerlessness than about their children's wellbeing.

Women who become possessive about their children and don't allow fathers to take care of their mutual offspring may sound like something from a distant past. It even sounds like the kind of excuse made by modern fathers so they do not have to be the one soothing the baby in the middle of the night.

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Germany
Fanny Jimenez

Do Fathers Matter More Than Mothers To A Child's Happiness?

BERLIN — Peter Seher sits on his balcony in Berlin-Wilmersdorf enjoying the late afternoon sun. He looks at the large puddles of water beneath his feet. It was nice and warm today, so after work the stockbroker set up a little wading pool on the balcony for his young daughter Hanna. "She really got going when she saw that," he says. "She hugged me, spent about an hour, super-excited, playing with her water pistol, and then came and gave me a kiss."

Does he think his 5-year-old is making something for him in nursery school for Father’s Day? "Oh yeah, Father’s Day!" The 37-year-old says. "I'd forgotten about that." And Seher isn't the only onen who's forgetten. Mother's Day still has a different, emotionally charged meaning that Father’s Day doesn't.

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