A day for dads: But are Czech fathers active parents?

Father’s Day is this Sunday, but are Czech dads actively involved in the day to day domestic duties of running a family amongst heterosexual couples, or are mothers still bearing the brunt of the workload? I asked Dr. Jana Klímová Chaloupková from the Institute of Sociology at the Czech Academy of Social Sciences about the current division of labour in the home.

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“Significant changes have occurred in regards to the expectation of gender roles within the family. Today, there is an increased expectation for fathers to actively participate in child care, including the care of the youngest children.

“Many fathers aspire to be more than just breadwinners, and want to play an active role in raising their children.

“But this is only part of the story, because overall in Czechia, pervading social norms and institutional systems favour maternal care for children up to three years old.

“There is a very long period of parental leave, but this is taken mostly by mothers and lasts until their children are three years old. So the current dynamic is that the mother is the primary caregiver and the father is the secondary caregiver.”

Are there any trends that point to more men choosing to stay home and take parental leave and mothers going to work instead as breadwinners?

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“Unfortunately not because the period of parental leave is very long in Czechia, and it’s mostly taken by mothers.

“Only about 5% of fathers take the parental leave because it’s so long. So this is not changing very much.”

What are the factors that keep these more “traditional” gender roles in families persisting?

“There is a very strong tradition of family care for small children and a lack of childcare services. Fathers are not encouraged to take parental leave in Czechia.

“Many studies show that the introduction of short paternal leave would be very beneficial, but it’s not happening in Czechia yet.”

What can the Czech government and employers do to promote more gender equality in childcare amongst families?

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“I think these dynamics won’t change unless the father takes the time to be within the family and really develop his caregiving skills.

“So the introduction of a short paternal leave for fathers would contribute to higher levels of involvement of men in childcare.”