The internet has come down hard on a man who asked his wife to start trying for a second child sooner than she intended to, without offering his help caring for either kid.
In a post shared on Mumsnet, which has so far got over 140 comments, a mother writing under the username FeministBadger asked the community if she was being unreasonable for making shared parental leave a requirement when trying to conceive.
In the post she explained that her husband asked her to start trying for a second child sooner than she wanted. She said yes to this, but only if he agreed to take shared parental leave and help her out with childcare. The husband told her this request wasn’t compatible with his job and his solution was to hire a nanny instead.
According to a study on parenting, which used data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), having a second child actually doubles time pressure and deteriorates parental mental health.
The study also found that this effect is substantially larger for mothers than it is for fathers, so was FeministBadger being unreasonable for asking her husband to share responsibilities?
The post read: “Over the weekend, DH [dear husband] raised the question of when we’d start trying for a second child. DH wants to start trying sooner and I want a bigger gap particularly as I found maternity leave difficult. I said I’d be happy to have a smaller gap if DH took shared parental leave which he said wouldn’t work with his job.”
FeministBadger also explained that her husband’s workplace is actually quite lenient towards parental leave and that it wouldn’t be much of a problem: “his company is really generous with SPL [shared parental leave] and he could get full pay for 6 months even if I’d taken 6 months too so the only problem would be the same issues any woman in his role would face.”
At this point the annoyed mother made it clear to her husband that she would only have a child if he agreed to take shared parental leave and share caring responsibilities with her.
“I accept DH can’t share the pregnancy and birth parts but it seems he doesn’t want to do anything that could impact on his career even though he is the one wanting a second kid sooner. Aibu [am I being unreasonable] to make him [take] SPL a requirement for us ttc [trying to conceive]?”
Members of the community quickly jumped to her defense saying that as the mother she should be able to make these kinds of decisions.
One user, LizzoBennett, commented: “The woman always gets the final vote on TTC. YANBU [you are not being unreasonable]. Wait until you’re ready as he clearly isn’t budging on the issue.” Another user, violetbunny, answered: “Ugh, this sort of attitude would make it even less likely I’d have sex with him in the future. Problem solved!”
FeministBadger further explained that the reason why her husband is insisting on getting started on trying for a baby is that it took them 3 years to conceive their first son and he wants to avoid ending up with a big gap between the children, while she wants to avoid ending up with 2 children under 2 years old to care for by herself.
One user, Chloemol, commented: “Your body, your choice and that’s what I would be telling him. He wants to try earlier he shares with the parental leave. Simple as that.”
While most users came to the mothers’ defense, one user, MintyFreshBreath, tried in their own words to “play devil’s advocate”: “YABU to make it a requirement for TTC. It seems a bit like you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face tbh, given that you want a baby at some point anyway. You’re a more experienced mum this time so maybe you won’t find it as hard. Also, does he have to take the full 6 months? Do you think you actually want him to take the full 6 months or do you just like the idea of it?”
The user also added: “Maybe, you should just talk to him and set out your expectations of what he HAS to do if he chooses to only take the bare minimum of leave. That could be anything. Examples I can think of..fair share of night feeds/[sleeping longer]/housework. I’m just trying to be [the] devil’s advocate with the questions by the way.”