The majority of people believe that childcare is a joint task and should be split equally between parents, a government survey suggests.
Research firm Opinion Matters interviewed a representative sample of more than 2,000 UK adults last month, on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. A total of 53 per cent said they thought parents should hold equal responsibility for raising their children., while 22 per cent went further, saying couples should be free to choose how they divide the childcare according to their own needs and priorities, rather than having the division dictated by outside circumstances.
By contrast, close to a quarter of those surveyed believed that childcare should actually be the mother’s main responsibility. Slightly more men than women believed that care should be shared equally.
Male respondents to the survey were also asked their views of the shared parental leave, a new government initiative which is due to be introduced for children born or adopted from 5 April this year.
Six out of ten said they thought it would help them to form a closer relationship with their children. Forty-four per cent said it would make a fairer situation in relation to parenting and just under 40 per cent cited the benefits to their partner, who would be able to return to work if the father took on greater care of the baby.
Close to 60 per cent of the men said family life as a whole would benefit from shared leave, while one in three said they hoped to enjoy a better relationship with their partner as a result.
Two thirds of the parents spoken to said they would have taken shared parental leave if it had been an option when their children were born, and four out of five expectant couples said they would consider the new initiative when their own time came.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“This Edwardian notion that women should stay at home while men go out and support the family has simply no place in this day and age. We need a modern Britain and a fair society that works for families, not against them.”
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