Friday, 21 May 2010

Baby's Here! Who Does What?

Baby’s Here! Who Does What? presents Duncan Fisher’s argument against splitting parenting into two traditionally gendered roles. He argues that some sharing – even if it’s not equal – is more fair, good for children, and good for couple relationships. However, across all six chapters, Fisher’s key message is that whatever parents do, “don’t sleep-walk – talk”. The book succeeds in offering good tips on how to go about being a parent and a partner too.

The book provides an easy introduction to the relationship issues that new parents will face. Many new parenting books focus on the how-tos and the how-nots of babycare, but very few focus on the nitty-gritties of how parents share this care.

But don’t be fooled by the book’s packaging in an easy-reading format with colourful comic illustrations. This masks what are difficult (and often taboo) questions. It really is a call to action.

As a staunch advocate of inclusive fatherhood, Fisher has written the book for both fathers and mothers. He challenges them to do some active thinking, asking and discussing about the stereotypes that all too many of us just accept as mother or father roles. Really, he is arguing that both parents need courage: courage to think and talk about these issues, courage for mothers to stand aside, and courage for fathers to step up and sometimes be a ‘trail-blazer’ dad.

Taking action is made easier for the reader as Fisher adopts a workbook style call to action at the end of each chapter in his pointers for ‘kitchen table talk’. These consist of questions that parents could ask themselves and their partner.

For any parent-to-be or new parents, this book provides a quick guide to kick-start some possibly not-yet-thought-of decisions. I would even go so far as to recommend that all ante-natal and post-natal care services make it available as essential reading for all new parents.

Now of course I don’t agree with everything that Fisher argues or suggests, but nor would he expect that of me. And nor does he expect that of fathers or mothers. What he would like, and what I would like too, is for everyone to bring these issues into the open in a far more honest manner than we previously have done.

Fisher hopes that the sale of this book will help to fund the distribution of free information to parents through maternity services. Further book talk can be continued on – although I think he should have called it

Next week I pick up on the issue of fathers stepping up and mum stepping aside.

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