More Chinese husbands are open to the idea of becoming stay-at-home fathers in a shift away from traditional mores, according to a recent survey.
The idea that the man of the house should be the breadwinner, while child care and domestic duties are the woman's duties, is deep-rooted in Chinese culture.
But the survey, jointly conducted by the state-run China Youth Daily and questionnaire website wenjuan.com earlier this month, found that 52.4 per cent of male respondents supported the idea of men being a full-time carer.
The number in favour was lower among women, just 45.8 per cent of whom supported the idea.
But however keen men may be about the idea, there may also be practical difficulties.
Yu Xiang, a middle schoolteacher in Shanghai who has a six-month-old daughter, said he was willing to be a stay-at-home father but in reality it was not practical to do that because his wife, who is also a teacher, did not earn enough to support the family.
He also said his wife was not happy leaving him to do the housework, adding that she often scolded him for doing it badly. "She also said he would not feel comfortable letting me take care of our daughter," he said. "She says I am too careless."
Robin Ge, a financial manager from Shanghai, admitted he took a more old-fashioned view of household duties.
The father of a five-year-old boy said he would not accept the idea of becoming a stay-at-home father even if his wife, an office worker, started earning more than him.
"Perhaps I am a traditional Chinese man," he said. "I believe men should earn more than women. I remember my father told me years ago that a man's status in his family is determined by his economic status. Compared with stay-at-home mothers, the acceptance rate for stay-at-home fathers among the public is very low.
"I agree that a father caring for the kids has benefits, such as helping the kid to be brave and responsible. However, that doesn't mean a man needs to be full-time father. What he should do is to spend much of his spare time caring for and playing with his kid."
The survey questioned 1,987 married people, some 89.2 per cent of whom were parents. Sixty per cent of the respondents agreed that the stereotypical view of the husband being the breadwinner put fathers off staying at home to look after the children.
However, the number of women who said they were opposed to the idea of stay-at-home fathers, 30.9 per cent, was slightly higher than the 28 per cent of men who did not support the notion.
But women whose husbands have given up their jobs to look after the children generally appreciated what they had done.
"I don't think a man who stays at home is a failure in life. His sacrifice helps me so much and I really am grateful for his support," a woman wrote on China's leading parental website ci123.com, adding that this kind of family is more stable and the relationship between husband and wife is more harmonious.
Zhang Baoyi, a sociology professor at the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said he believed attitudes would change as society evolved.
"To embrace this practice, we need to recognise the contribution and value of homemakers," Zhang told China Youth Daily.
"The fact that dads are willing to be more involved in their children's lives shows that the traditional mentality of 'career husband and domestic wife' is changing."
Zhang also said that more parents in general were willing to stay at home to provide full-time child care because they were attaching increasing importance to their children's education.
"The number of stay-at-home fathers or mothers is increasing," he said.
"Couples should adjust the (family) model … according to their economic conditions and abilities to educate the children."
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