Monday, 15 February 2010

Should men change nappies?

Or more specifically, should a man who doesn't have a biological relationship with a child change it's nappies?

The reason I ask is because I've ended up in quite a few conversations lately about this, particularly in the context of male ECE teachers and their work. Most people seem to think it's ok for a father, or grandfather, to change the nappies of their child/grandchild. But things get trickier for some when you take things wider than that.

For me it's very straight forward; there should be no gender differentiation about who can change nappies. If you are happy with a woman changing nappies then having a man change nappies should be no different.

And further, if you box men out of changing nappies then you intrinsically box women into changing nappies. Which is definitely Uncool.

So what do you think dear readers, are you hip to the jive of men doing the dirty work?


Anonymous said...

What are the reasons given against men changing nappies??


Nikki said...

Alllllllllllll for it!!

But I am still harbouring some anger at one of my friends asking me to put pants on my 13 month old child as her nappy-free time was making him feel uncomfortable. I don't know whether I'm angry at him, or whether I'm angry at the fact that he felt he should be uncomfortable.

M said...

Totally fine, in the context that I'm not comfortable with many people changing my children's nappies (and I'm sure many people are uncomfortable about changing nappies full stop, which is fine).
In a childcare/creche situation I don't see the difference between a male or female staff member. They will have been through the same employment processes.
After that I can't really imagine another situation where a male or female not related to me or my children would willingly change their nappy. That said, I think I've only seen their grandfather do it once...which raises an interesting question of where his comfort levels lie, or whether it's just expected to be grandma's job.

bronwyn said...

I used to work in a childcare facility where we bathed and toileted children and young adults (up to the age of 21).

Generally the rule was that males looked after males and females looked after females - it always bothered me a bit (after all, presumably we were all as trustworthy as one another) but I can see why management put it in place; there was an awful lot of sensitive parents around.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in early childhood settings male teachers should have exactly the same responsibilities as female teachers.
Although there are still parents who have concerns about male teachers changing nappies, so for the teachers protection it would be best to wait until these parents feel comfortable with male teachers changing nappies.
Having said that, if it's really a big issue maybe they should just find a centre that doesn't have male teachers, there are plenty of those around.

blue milk said...

What does ECE stand for?

From my point of view I have no trouble with male daycare workers changing nappies. I understand the fear around sexual abuse but I would hope a daycare centre would have plenty of supervision policies to prevent abuse happening in their centres regardless of gender.

I remember when we were first teaching our daughter about bodily autonomy and we were listing off to her the only people allowed to change her nappy and I admit that once we started considering daycare workers it got a bit more complicated with staff turn-over, staff-replacements etc. Made it difficult to give her a set list which made it difficult for her to determine if something was amiss and that she should tell us about it.. but then again I don't fear the stranger in the park as much as I fear the scenario where someone befriends us and earns our trust first. So I am more on the look out for those possibilities than a casual staffer working in a daycare room under the watch of several other staff.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of annoyed that it took to that last post for someone to mention sexual abuse. Lets stop skirting around the issue people.


There I said it. What it comes down to is who we trust to touch our childrens genitalia without hurting them or even not hurting them but getting something sexually gratifying out of it.

I'd be somewhat suspicious of someone jumping up and down in eagerness to do it but otherwise I think its fine. Most childcare centers these days (the ones my son went to) have change tables set up in positions where they can be seen. Our community has recognized the risk and introduced measures to try and prevent it.

As a feminist I think its really important that men who want to work in a caring, nurturing job like childcare are able to do so without judgment.

Blue Milk- I've taught my son less about specific people and more about not doing things that you are not comfortable with. If we are playing a tickling game in our house and he says stop, we STOP straight away. He's come to expect this compliance with what he wants others to not do so that if someone didn't stop doing something it would put up a red flag in his head that he was in a situation he needed to get out of. I've found the chapters in Nigel Latta's book's dealing with child abuse really useful as he has dealt with both the predators and the victims.

Julie said...

Sorry, ECE means Early Childhood Education. As a term it covers all preschool education, including kindergarten, community-based and private centres, creches, home-based services, etc.

Thanks for the responses so far.