Long ago, when Oscar Wilde wrote this play, I sincerely doubt that he expected, the Ideal Husband would be required to change diapers. But today it seems like a basic qualification for the title.
I am all for men doing their part, when it comes to parenting. And not just to help their wives, but also to bond with their children. Off late though, I have noticed articles in a variety of places, that judge husbands on how willing they are to do the particular task of diaper changing.
I understand that diaper changing has come to be is a symbol for parenting responsibility, but I wonder how it came to be so. Friends and acquaintances, trying to judge the paternal love of a man who has just become a farther will ask, “How often does he change the diapers?. Some will snigger as they say “I bet he can't change a diaper.”
My husband for example hates changing diapers. It doesn't mean he can't do it, or never does it, but he avoids it as far as possible. Does that make him a bad dad? Not in my opinion.
When I brought my baby home from the hospital, I was terrified of giving her a bath. She seemed so tiny and delicate and slippery when wet. I was considering getting an experienced maid to help me out. But guess who stepped in? Every single day for the first 15 months, my husband gave our baby girl a bath, and the same with the second one. He cut their nails from day one, and still does.
After the second baby was born, it was difficult for me to make both kids go to sleep. They would keep waking each other up. The older one is particularly attached to me at sleep time, and we did not want to make her feel less important on the arrival of her sister. So my husband takes the younger one to another room and cuddles her and sings to her, till she falls asleep, while I cuddle the older one to sleep.
I usually feed the kids lunch and dinner but he feeds them fruit. He cuts up tiny bits of mango, apple or pear and feeds them after dinner. I find the whole thing quite elaborate and messy, and he takes care of it.
So, I am happy to be mostly responsible for diaper duty. If there are parenting tasks that I avoid, then what is wrong with there being parenting tasks that he avoids? We play to our strengths. Isn't that the whole point of having a partner?
Personally I find diaper changing, especially for infants, one of the easier parenting tasks. Compare it to getting the child to sleep at a reasonable time or eat what is on the plate or dealing with a tantrum. So I wonder how willingness to change diapers, came to be the measure of a good father and husband.
I firmly believe dads should carry a significant fraction of the parenting load, but the importance of diaper changing seems blown out of proportion to me. What do you people think?