Line One News

29 May, 2000

Stay-at-home dads just get in the way say new mothers

Line One News

BABY BLUES: Tony Blair taking time to be with Leo may be more hindrance than help to Cherie

THEY may be struggling to juggle their work and family life, but high-flying career women would still prefer to cope with a newborn baby on their own.

A staggering 90 per cent of all female middle class professionals would rather their men did not take time off to spend with their babies as they only get in the way.

The new research comes as Tony Blair is taking time off to be with his newborn son Leo and his barrister wife Cherie.

But according to the report, the Prime Minister is more likely to be a hindrance than a help.

A third of women say husbands who try to help by staying at home after a birth just annoy them.

Research has also shown a conflict between men and women on the issue of paternity leave, as more than half of younger fathers want a right to time off to be with their children. The number of men wanting paternity leave has doubled compared to their fathers' generation. But one in five women, across all social groups, say they would not want them to take advantage of it.

The survey of more than 500 men, commissioned by nappy manufacturer Huggies, has found that men from lower income families are also more likely to want time off after the birth of a child. Mary Newburn, head of policy research at the Natural Childbirth Trust, said: "In previous generations, women stayed in hospital for a week and were given food and specialist care.

"Now they come home early and men aren't able to change overnight into people who can look after the home and cope with the needs of a woman with a newborn baby.

"Women may just need the care and support of professionals and other women rather than men. However, it is important men spend time with their children and our anecdotal evidence is women would prefer their partners to be around.

"And we've found men find it a real wrench when they have to go back to work."

The research found the main reason men want leave is to help their partners, followed by using the opportunity to bond with the child. Another reason is to at least have the option of leave.

However, the main reason younger men gave for not taking time off was it is not financially viable. For older generations, the main reason was that it is a woman's place to bring up a child.

The report said: "Clearly the reasons given by the younger generation are based more on practicality, such as financial viability."

© Express Newspapers, 2000