Why is it so surprising that rugby player Ben Foden is a hands-on dad? asks Bryony Gordon.
There has been a lot of surprise that a rugby star is to front a campaign encouraging men to share parental leave when the new legislation comes in to force in April.
Ben Foden plays for the Northampton Saints and is expecting to be mocked by fans and team-mates for this role. “There will be some changing room banter,” said the dad of two-year-old Aoife. “It’s part and parcel of being a rugby player.”
He has been described as a “new man” for his move into campaigning, and for admitting in an interview that he does “everything, all the nappy changing and feeding. I was there for Aoife’s first words and her first steps.” Foden, whose wife Una is part of the pop group The Saturdays and - shock, horror! - earns more than him, has also apparently been controversial for saying that it’s totally normal for women nowadays to be the main breadwinners in a household. “Why should they have to give up their careers when they have children?”
It always amuses me when a man fulfilling his fatherly role is seen as somehow astonishing.
The truth is that today’s generation of dads is infinitely better than the last; if my husband was as hands-off as my father was when I was young, he’d be out on his bottom.
Mothers today expect more from their other halves. The idea that men are incapable of changing nappies is laughably outdated; it’s like suggesting that all women belong in the kitchen (no jokes at the back). Yes, some fathers are feckless, but by no means all of them are, so isn’t it time we cut dads some slack?