When I conjure an image of a caregiver, I picture a woman. I know I’m being sexist but I always think female. Why?
First, I don’t personally know many male caregivers. In fact, I can only think of one or two. Also, in my family, the women did all the traditional “female roles” of running the home, raising the children and taking care of those who were sick or elderly.
Even if the women worked outside the home, the lines were clearly delineated and men in my family didn’t do “women’s work.”
Thankfully, that stereotype is changing — evidently faster than many of us realized.
The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted this shift in an interesting article written by Kelly Greene, “Men at Work — As Caregivers,” citing a Pew Research Center report which reveals as many as 45% of our nation’s caregivers are now men.
Citing changing social norms, the study points out that the societal lines of men’s and women’s roles has become blurred. It’s no longer unusual for a dad to stay home to care for the kids while his female partner is the main breadwinner. Also, smaller families means there are fewer adult children to care for elderly parents and siblings are often scattered geographically. Much like a game of tag, the kids who stuck close to home will be “it” when it comes to taking care of aging parents.
From my own experience, you can’t phone in caregiving duties.
So, gentlemen, welcome to the caregiving club. You may not want to be a member, but you no longer have a choice.
Tag. You’re it.