The world is not designed for equitable parenting

Why does there need to be one primary carer?

Ben Werdmuller

--

So far, I’ve been the primary nappy-changer in my child’s world. That’s not virtue signaling or trying to make a point: it simply seems fair that, given that I’m biologically incapable of breastfeeding or carrying a child to term, I help out where I can.

Aaron Hoyland’s tweet the other day is exactly how I feel:

Putting baby change stations in the women’s washroom (and maybe the family washroom if there is one) but not the men’s washroom sends a very clear message about whose responsibility you think raising children is, and frankly, I hate it.

The world isn’t set up for equitable co-parenting. Bathrooms are one example. Don’t click through to the tweet if you’d like to skip being angry for a morning: the comments are dominated by people making excuses for dads not changing their children, or trying to argue that it’s women’s work like we’re back in the forties. A mother’s sacred duty, apparently, is to be the sole person cleaning their child.

I’m completely on board with having changing tables in every men’s bathroom. I intend to use them; please give them to me. In return, I will spend money in your establishment.

Unfortunately, this chauvanistic design mentality doesn’t stop at bathrooms. They’re everywhere. I call them “mommy defaults”.

I’ve discovered that a lot of the parenting apps we use — primarily Huckleberry, which allows us to track events like diaper changes and different kinds of feedings — don’t provide for more than one parental user account. If both parents want to track events and gain access to the log, they need to share a password. We’re not logging frivolously (our child needed to go to the ER for dehydration on their first night home), and it’s crucial that we both have access to this data.

Even the Snoo, our expensive and overtly high-tech smart bassinet, only allows for one account. If we want to track sleeping and adjust settings, we once again have to share passwords. It’s not incredibly difficult to use a shared 1Password vault, but I expect most parents default to using something easily memorable, and therefore easily hackable.

--

--

Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.