"I think he would probably cope. As it is, I get our little boy ready in the morning, and my partner baths him and puts him to bed in the evening, so he wouldn't have any real practical problems; he looks after him on a Sunday, too, if I'm working. He loves playing with him, and spending his days with him, and he's a good cook too. He also has a large extended family, who would be very supportive and whom he could always rely on. But he travels a lot in his work at the moment, which would mean he would have to change jobs."
Jan has two children aged six and two.
"In lots of ways I think he'd be better than me: he's less controlling and less anxious than I am, and just goes with the situation. I think he'd be very relaxed on an emotional level, but on a practical level he'd have problems - things like getting clean uniforms put out each morning, and getting them out of the house on time. Organisational arrangements would be a real problem for him: when I think of what my six-year-old has to take to school, I know things would just get lost, and I'm not sure what he'd be like taking them swimming, or something like that. He's not really a cook, either, though he'd be all right on food, overall."
Lynne has two children aged nine and five
"We've always been in a situation where we spend an approximately equal amount of time caring for our children; if he were to become a lone parent, I don't think he would be at any more of a disadvantage than if I were. He regularly cooks for them and gets them ready for school, and he has no problems controlling them or relating to them emotionally.
"I'm not saying it wouldn't be a rather drastic change - I believe very strongly that children need both a mother and a father - but he's as good a father as I feel I am a mother, and I'm sure he'd cope as well as you could reasonably expect."
Susan has one child aged 11
"He would cope, but it would be a tremendous strain on him. He's an organised, structured person, but he lacks the ability to be spontaneous - to allow the moment to take over - which I feel is very important with children. You have to allow them to grow as individuals, but he can be a bit fierce sometimes. Most of the time he's very gentle and kind, but occasionally the macho male takes over."
Juliet has one child aged two
"I think fathering is very different from mothering - not inferior to it, but certainly different. My husband probably has more patience and more energy than me - in playing games with her, at least - but when she falls over and hurts herself it's me that she wants. With just my husband bringing her up, I feel she would lose out on being properly nurtured, and when she's tired or whingy, it's me who's better at dealing with it. When he is on his own with her, he tends to take her round to his mother's, though there's nothing wrong with that. But every parent is different, and every parental relationship is different. In our case, he's a fun father, and I'm a nurturing mother: what we've found is that in bringing up a child, gender roles become more polarised."
Frances has two children aged five and two
"He'd have no particular problem apart from the sudden shortage of man- hours. We share everything to do with the children and are completely interchangeable in many ways. I think a lot of women like to make a mystery of parenthood in order to make themselves feel indispensable. Fathers are every bit as good at it given the opportunity. The whole idea of wondering whether the poor dears could `cope' is inherently patronising. My children would probably miss me as I'm a bit of a softie and they might find him slightly inflexible at times but he would probably cope better than I would in the same circumstances."
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