A photo of a dad sleeping on a hospital floor after working a 12-hour shift went viral with the post being shared over 32,000 times. It also sparked a conversation about equal parenting after the image was posted on Facebook.
Sara Duncan from Fredericktown, Missouri, posted the image of her husband Joe Duncan sleeping on the hospital floor after they took their youngest child to the emergency room.
Sara Duncan toldGood Morning America: “I posted that from the bottom of my heart to my husband because I know that I don’t give him enough recognition for how phenomenal he is as a husband and a father.
“I could tell him, but it’s not enough. I really did want to tell people, ‘It’s not always going to be perfect, but it will always be worth it.’”
Cement technician Joe Duncan had just finished work after a 12-hour shift on 23 March when his wife told him that she wanted to take their daughter to the hospital because she was wheezing.
He had to get back to work a few hours later, so he changed into his work clothes and made the one hour drive to the emergency room.
“He’s an ‘I have to be with you’ type of guy,” Sara Duncan said.
“I knew that he was exhausted. I said, ‘Stay home. I know my way at [the hospital], and he was like, ‘No. You’re not going up there by yourself.’”
Sara Duncan said their daughter was cleared to go home after two hours after having received minor treatment.
Seeing him sleeping on the floor, she said she was thinking about “how thankful I am for him and how I wouldn’t want to do this life without him”.
She added: “Parenting is really hard. I can’t imagine doing it without him. Kudos to single moms. I have a husband who cooks, cleans, does diapers and baths, and I’m still exhausted.”
Reproductive psychiatrist Dr Alexandra Sacks toldGood Morning America: “I often see that mothers and their partners value shared parenting roles and responsibilities, but often in the day-to-day domestic tasks and the work of what we call ‘emotional labour,’ the invisible labour of caretaking, still disproportionately falls on the women.”
She added: “It’s important that we keep talking about this in the workplace and on the domestic front if we’re going to keep moving forward in our culture and if parents and all people are to be valued equally.”
The gender gap has widened during the pandemic, and the change has been particularly severe among parents, Forbes reported in October of 2020.
Research by strategic market research consultancy Alter Agents found that men have consistently been more optimistic and self-confident compared to women even if those metrics decreased for both genders during the pandemic. Current events affect everyone, but the research suggests that they have more of an effect on women.
Parenting worsened these metrics, according to a rundown of the research. Women took on more responsibility as kids stayed home from school and other activities.
The New York Times reported that almost half of men thought they did most of the homeschooling in their households, while just three per cent of women thought the men were doing the most. Eighty per cent of mothers said they were doing the bulk of the work.
The pandemic is also having a lopsided effect on people in the workplace. Research from consulting firm McKinsey indicated that “women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs” and that “women make up 39 per cent of global employment but account for 54 per cent of overall job losses”.
McKinsey specifically noted that “the virus is significantly increasing the burden of unpaid care, which is disproportionately carried by women”.