Female childcare isn’t nearly as culturally or historically universal as many would like to believe. I knew a bit of this before, but these examples are new, and striking:
Living in the jungles of the western Congo basin, Aka men are the world’s most dedicated dads. For 47% of each day they are either holding their children or are within arm’s reach of them. It’s the Aka man who will calm his crying infant in the night, even offering a gentle suck on his nipple.
More surprising to me are these reflections on British and American parenting:
A traveller visiting an English village in 1795 recorded: “In the long winter evenings the husband cobbles shoes, mends the family clothes and attends the children while the wife spins.” No slumping in front of the telly for an evening of Top Gear back then. Likewise, in the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries, says the historian Mary Frances Berry, “Fathers had primary responsibility for childcare beyond the early nursing period.”
All this is from an interesting article with a terrible blurb in last weekend’s Guardian. (“Sharing” childcare while making a four day week does not make one a househusband. I presume, charitably, that the article’s author is not the blurb writer.)