Wed | Oct 23, 2019

Patricia Thompson | Paternity leave more than lounging around the house

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:08 AM
Jeffrey Campbell, who deejays under the stage name ‘Agent Sasco’, shows that he’s no slouch in the kitchen as he prepares a pot of porridge at his Stony Hill home on October 19, 2017. Nutritionist Patricia Thompson, in arguing that paternity leave is hard work, is calling for compulsory home economics and management training for all schoolboys.
Patricia Thompson
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On the news Sunday evening, the head of Carreras announced that his company will be offering paternity leave to complement the maternity leave that women benefit from on giving birth. This move was supported by the leader of the Opposition, who further clarified that the men would have to demonstrate responsibility under his government.

While I laud these proclamations, I must question whether these men understand what exactly they are supporting and how they plan to implement this. I suggest that before the new fathers benefit from this leave, they should demonstrate their responsibility by undertaking compulsory classes in home economics/home management offered by their employers on a regular basis at the workplace.

Home economics has traditionally been a subject offered in schools to girls while our boys do more ‘manly’ subjects, like industrial science. Given the state of our country with increasing violence, absentee fathers from the home, increased incest and domestic violence, this calls for a complete change in our culture.

Home economics/home management should become a compulsory subject for all students in school, particularly our boys. Here, students will not only learn cooking, but how to manage a home and their families. They would learn nutrition, health, and hygiene so they can eat healthily and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and infectious, how to care for household possessions, as well as cleaning, thus learning to prolong the integrity of the building and equipment. Students would also be taught waste management to mitigate against climate change, how to mend children’s clothes, such as the hems of girls’ school uniforms, in addition to critical skills such as making a will, how to budget and invest, how to shop economically, raising children, coping and resilience skills, conflict management, and other essential subjects that non-governmental organisations keep asking to be placed on the curriculum as separate subjects.

Pointless without knowledge

There is no point if fathers on paternity leave only sit and watch the mother breastfeeding and then lounge around the house all day, while mother still has to cook, clean, mind the older children, and all the other wifely duties.

My son who lives in the US left his bank management job and acts as a house husband and father with two boys and a newborn girl. While his wife breastfeeds in the morning, he gets the boys ready for school, prepares and feeds them breakfast, takes them to school, after-school activities, supermarket, doctor, dentist, plays with them, helps with homework and any other duties around the home, such as washing the clothes, gardening. His wife has a PhD and he an MBA, and they both have a successful home business together which she manages during the day, while at night he does the accounts and relevant paperwork before going to bed.

Society is moving into a new phase of development that requires gender equality. Home economics/home management is no longer a sissy subject for girls in school; it is a necessity for all.

Patricia Thompson, MSc, is a home management/food and nutrition educator and a registered nutritionist. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and patriciatho@gmail.com.