My husband had been picked to demonstrate the diapering – and he couldn’t have been prouder.
Dave had been attending Dads 101 classes at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, before the birth of our first child. He’d shown such eagerness to diaper, swaddle and lullaby the plastic doll that the instructor had asked him to come talk to the next group of fathers-to-be.
“I guess it helped me to talk about this stuff with other men,” said Dave, with a smile. “I feel way more prepared to be a dad.” A pregnancy journey which, so far, had been all about mother and baby, now welcomed my husband with open arms. And when our son was born, we were ready together.
Bound by tradition
Men around the world need to know they can be great husbands and fathers – and not just by providing. Even here in Canada, men have struggled with this idea for generations. Tradition tells them how they’re supposed to behave, what they’re meant to prioritize, what they’re supposed to want.
For families in developing countries, tradition can wield even greater power. And it comes with major pressure for both genders. Surviving life in poverty can force men and women into separate spheres, as they divide up the seemingly endless responsibilities and try to handle them individually.
It can be very isolating, says World Vision Canada’s Maereg Tafere, whose frequently travels with the organization.
“Men are the ones expected to enter conflict when needed – fighting enemies and even animals. They do the physical labour, working the land. They’re expected to always provide for their families. On the other hand, women take care of the house and children.” Neither parent can fully understand what it’s like to be the other.