"We have a bit of a double message going out to
parents," says Donna Lero, Jarislowsky Chair in
Families and Work at the University of Guelph.
"We know and recognize that a father's
involvement is very positive. But when it comes
to parenting babies, there is a unique
responsibility which is (thought to be) the
mother's and a lot of the debate about child
care and staying at home is really about moms,
not about dads."
Low fertility rates are a
significant concern in Canada, she says, but
government policies don't make it easy for
anyone to juggle child care, career, finances
and family life.
Eight in 10 parents admitted they would have
stayed home longer if finances had permitted.
Reasons for returning to work were similar for
men and women, except that more men (40 per
cent) worried about losing their jobs, while
more women (26 per cent) felt isolated at home.
In spite of the challenges, 86 per cent of
those polled told Statistics Canada they were
ultimately satisfied with their return to work.
Even so, nearly one-quarter of parents (23
per cent) didn't go back to work at all, with
more than half of them citing a desire to raise
their children themselves. Another 24 per cent
did not return to the workforce because child
care was too expensive and eight per cent
remained at home because they lost their job or
their employer wasn't offering the position they
More than 3.2 million Canadians welcomed new
children by birth or adoption between 2001 and
Ottawa government worker Tim Stupich took
seven months' parental leave after his son,
Cameron, was born in February 2002, while his
wife, Catherine Francis, took a year's worth of
paid and unpaid leave. When Mr. Stupich
eventually returned to the office, he felt
better knowing their son was with Ms. Francis
rather than a babysitter.
Even so, he faced a different sort of stress
among co-workers and business associates: "I
felt there still seemed to be a stigma about
fathers staying home. I would take a lot of
joking about that and it was something that of
course would never be done for a woman after
returning from having a baby. But I think that
attitude is changing."
After the April 2006 arrival of Sabrina, the
couple's second child together (they have a
blended family that includes seven children and
a lot of soccer games), financial considerations
kept Mr. Stupich from taking more than a week