Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Men can be carers too

I read a story yesterday about a man who has been put forward for a carer of the year award. My first reaction was well yes - men can be carers too. The story, briefly, is that his daughter was born with a rare genetic defect which will kill her in time. He and his partner made a decision that he would give up his job to look after the child 24/7 (not give up his life as the headline put it). His partner went back to her parents as she suffers from depression and the man's comment was that he could not be there for both of them - it was the child or his partner. This was the bit that stuck in my throat.

Now women are slated if they say they cannot cope with a husband with disabilities and young children. There have been a couple of stories recently where women whose husbands were injured in accidents or in the Afghan war and confined to wheelchairs and the wives said they could not cope with both - partly because of how the disabilities had affected their partners' personalities. The comments on all the stories were along the lines of 'selfish women always putting what they want before their husbands and children'.

Why the double standards? Giving up jobs to look after husbands, children and elderly relatives is a common place for women - 99.9% of whom will rarely receive any form of recognition let alone financial reward. A man does it but says he can't cope with ill partner as well and he's regarded as a hero. I admire anyone who makes the sacrifices needed to be a carer - I am one myself and I know how soul destroying it can be at times. What I dislike is that women are expected to do it willingly and pilloried if they hold their hands up and say they can't cope. If a man says I can cope with the child but not my partner he's praised to the skies. Hmmm. Very odd.

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