‘He should be ashamed’: Fathers react to Boris Johnson’s hesitancy over baby nappy changing
Prime minister was reluctant to say he would change his baby’s nappy during television interview before birth
The baby is Ms Symonds’ first child and the sixth that Mr Johnson has publicly acknowledged to have fathered.
After the pregnancy announcement in February – with the due date said to be “mid 2020” – Boris Johnson was quizzed over whether he would be taking a hands on approach to childcare: namely changing his baby’s nappy.
During an appearance on ITV’s This Morning, the politician gave a series of incomplete sentences and was reluctant to answer. When pushed further he replied: “I expect so, I expect so.”
Fathers and parenting groups have expressed their disapproval over Johnson’s unclear answer.
William McGranaghan, founder of organisation Dads House that provides support for single fathers, told The Independent that he believes Mr Johnson’s comments concerning nappy changing are “disgraceful”.
“Dads are now more involved in their children’s lives than ever,” Mr McGranaghan said.
“As he is the prime minister he should always set an example.”
Around 400,000 families were headed by lone fathers in 2012 (latest data available) representing 13.5 per cent of all single-parent households in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Phil Schofield, from Kent, is a father of a five-year-old son and said that Johnson should be “ashamed” over his non-committal attitude.
“Boris should be ashamed,” Mr Schofield told The Independent. “He should be highlighting the joys of fatherhood and letting other dads know it’s normal to change nappies. It’s part of being a dad.”
On Twitter dads were also quick to condemn Johnson, one user commented: “Changing nappies is part of being a dad. As I did at 6.20am today.”
“I only have one child (who is now all grown up) but I never had any qualms about changing nappies,” another remarked.
Some also started using the hashtag “#realmenchangenappies” to express their frustration with the prime minister.
In 2014, American news show Today carried out a survey of 2,000 mothers and fathers on nappy changing habits.
Of the fathers who took part in the study, more than half said they change their babies’ nappies but acknowledged that this might have been a generational change with only 37 per cent saying their own fathers changed their nappies when they were babies.
A survey conducted by WaterWipes in 2017 discovered that three quarters of fathers said they had changed more nappies than their own fathers did when they had reached the same stage of parenthood.
Cathy Finlay, an antenatal practitioner at parenting charity NCT, explained to The Independent that while every family has “different approaches to juggling daily life with a baby”, nowadays fathers “tend to be hands on with tasks such as changing nappies”.
“In the early days with a newborn, dads can sometimes feel like a secondary parent when it comes to feeding, caring and soothing their baby, but they can and do play an important role,” Ms Finlay said, speaking in reference to fathers in mixed-sex relationships.
“Having a baby is a huge life change and it can take a bit of time for both mums and dads to adjust to their new roles as parents, but getting involved with the daily tasks can help dads to feel more bonded with their child.”
Johnson has four children from his second marriage to lawyer and columnist Marina Wheeler. His fifth child was born in 2009 following an extra-marital affair.
He wrote: “The result is that, in families on lower incomes, the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole.
“In that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, Neets [not in education, employment or training] and mug you on the street corner.”