Some people see Father’s Day as a commercial concept, whereas for others, it is a genuinely special day. Do you celebrate Father’s Day at home?
‘I think that at home we hold the opinion that every day is father, mother or child day, but it is really fun to see what presents the children have made at school. To be honest, those are the best gifts on such days instead of the standard fragrances or barbecue tongs.’
So actually, it is Father’s Day every day! Have you encountered stereotypes about fathers (unequal division of tasks, less frequently at home, et cetera) in practice and how do you view these?
‘In practice, I haven’t often come across people who have made stereotypical remarks. However, on one occasion, I was standing with the buggy in the Prenatal, and the female staff there gave me unrequested advice and help. Quite pedantic sounding comments were made, such as “Are you really sure you know what you need?”. Yes, I knew exactly what I wanted, and they were somewhat surprised by that. I can understand that the image still prevails that men or fathers are perhaps less well-informed about certain matters. But in my case, that was never true.
Further, the stereotype “the man does less around the house than the woman” did not really apply to us well before the birth of Noa and Lynn. In our case, the allocation of tasks is probably the other way round because I possibly do a bit more housekeeping. When it comes to raising the children, the tasks are definitely divided equally because we do that together. Accordingly, I feel that it is up to every couple to determine what works best for them.’
Do you think that the role of fathers has developed positively in comparison to mothers’ roles?
‘I think that there is increasing attention for fathers and that, generally, the concept “father works and mother cares for the children” is no longer the norm. A term like “papa-dag” (dad’s day), when you take off a day per week to spend with the children, is now used slightly less often, I think. And of course, it’s a bit strange that we don’t refer to the days mothers spend with their children as “mum’s days”.
One thing I really enjoy seeing is the growing number of fathers at the school playground who bring or collect their children. In the past, the school playground was mainly full of mothers. Now I am also a class parent, whereas previously, there were only class mothers. So I do see that things are changing.’
How do you combine your work and being a father?
‘To be honest, that happens quite naturally. This is partly because I’ve always worked at organisations where there’s been a lot of understanding for this. I decided quite early on that I wanted a fixed day off per week and that I would compensate for that by working for an hour longer on the other days. And that works really well for both my family and for me. I think it’s important to strike a good balance between when you are at home with the children, and when you choose to have a childminder or use childcare facilities. Although, again, this is something that every family needs to consider and decide for itself. In our case, for example, there is always somebody at home with the girls on Monday and Wednesday, and on Tuesday they go to their grandparents.
At the moment, I’m happy that the schools and childcare are open once again. I think that many parents have not been able to work as efficiently as they normally can over the past few months. I am also grateful to NWO for the way in which they dealt with this and the possibilities they offered us. But besides the drama of working from home, there are other factors that can influence how well you perform. If there is something up with the children or something is going on with them, then that affects you, but that is part and parcel of having children, and in the end, it is more than worth it.’
Does your fatherhood inform aspects of your work at NWO?
‘The most enjoyable part of being a father lies in the smallest things, from the self-made tie through to the happy smile when you’ve fixed something for the umpteenth time. The lack of sleep and grey hairs have not necessarily made me a better communication adviser. But I do notice that it does make me much more understanding towards others. Being the father of two small, busy children who have their own perceptions is also good for your ability to empathise. I’ve learned to take a better look at the world and the people around me, and that is very valuable within my discipline. Also, being a father means you automatically learn to make better use of your time.’
Diversity and inclusion at NWO and NWO-I
This new section will be published on both the NWO intranet Joost and the newsletter Inside NWO-I. This is an initiative from the NWO-D and NWO-I wide Diversity team. We aim to realise working in an inclusive organisation with inclusive procedures. We believe that we can achieve our strategic ambitions as NWO if we also seek to be a diverse organisation with an inclusive culture. Diversity brings us creativity, innovation, and renewal. In addition to this, we are convinced that we will have more societal impact as NWO if our organisation reflects the society we are part of. This means that as an employer, NWO needs to ensure that everybody is welcome, can be themselves and can perform at their best. This Diversity and Inclusion calendar contributes to that. You can read more about diversity and inclusion on the NWO website. And in the January edition of Inside NWO-I, we published the article “Striving for an organisation where everybody can be themselves” about diversity within NWO and NWO-I.
Section NWO celebrates … based on an annual calendar
We base the section “NWO celebrates…” on an annual calendar that we have produced ourselves. You can find our calendar here. An annual calendar does not necessarily have to start on 1 January. Various Roman emperors and several popes changed the dates making a year start on 1 March, or 25 March or perhaps 1 January? That set us thinking: which dates do we still take for granted, and how do others view that? Time for a calendar that includes all special days: days that we as NWO employees can celebrate together. We hope this calendar will help us to get to know each other better, increase our knowledge about other festive days, and give us opportunities to open up the conversation and discover which (festive) days are special for us and why.
Read the other articles from the section 'NWO celebrates...'
Would you like to participate in this section?
Is your (festive) day missing from the calendar (see annex at the end of this article)? Or would you like to say something in the section “NWO celebrates…” about one of the special days on this calendar? If that is the case, then please send an email to Melissa Vianen (firstname.lastname@example.org). Then we will add your date to the calendar and contact you for a possible interview for this section.
Newsletter Inside NWO-I, July 2021
Text: Seray Ünsal