In the past it seemed strange and shameful if a man helped his wife take care of their children. However, nowadays, looking after children is a responsibility shared by both the wife and the husband. This is because women are now more likely to find their own career to financially support their family, giving them less time to care for their sons and daughters. Men need to step up to fill the gap left by the moms.
This is the case for Kay Sovannary, who works as a market vendor in Phnom Penh. Sovannary is kept busy with her business and has little time to look after her children.
“I am happy that I have my husband, who always helps me take care of our children and does housework when he is free,” she said. Without her husband, either the children would be left home alone or she would not be able to work, Sovannary said.
Tem Salim, 28, has a five-year-old son. “Taking care of children is one duty that a father should responsible for,” Salim said. He believes that the way of thinking ¬– that a man staying at home to look after children is ridiculous – is outdated and wrong.
Unlike other men who don’t help a bit with housework, Salim always thinks that doing housework and helping his wife in general is all part of a culture of sharing.
Twenty-six-year-old Hen Ratana, customer service agent at Naga World, also gets help from her partner to look after her nearly two-year-old child. “Every day when I am at my workplace, I have my husband help look after our child before he goes to work.”
Without the help of her husband and other family members, Ratana would have big problems, as there would be no one at home to look after her child and to do the housework.
University student Son Somaly said that, as a woman, she supports fathers pitching in to help take care of their children, as working mothers are often busy and need support at home.
“The man I want to marry will not only have a good job,” Somaly said. “He will also understand my difficulties and help me to overcome them, especially with things like doing housework and looking after children when I am busy.”
Sok Cheav Srun, a university student studying English Literature, expressed similar ideas. “Taking care of children is what every man must do to be a good father. I will definitely help to care for my children as well as do other tasks in the home when I start a family.” He strongly believes that the word family itself means that every member has a responsibility to ensure family happiness and well-being.
“We love each other; we have to take care of each other,” he added.
Somchan Sovandara, lecturer in psychology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said: “It is good that men understand their wives by helping look after babies and children, because this is the responsibility of both parents.”
Sovandara also reminded parents that spending time with their children helps to strengthen the parent-child relationship. When both mother and father make time to be with their children, it brings them closer together and makes their family happier.
To end, Sovannary the vendor warns that men shouldn’t think of housework as being women’s work. To have a warm and loving family, she added, a husband needs to understand and help his wife with work and family.