Men raising boys

A new book has inspired PSA member and stay-at home dad Aaron Packard to consider how we can help men to be more hands-on fathers

CMYK Aaron Packard Man Raises Boy“No way dad” repeats my son as he demands his mum’s attention in a charmingly two-year old way, drizzled with snot.

It’s time to distract him away from mum, who is on a Zoom call with half the planet it seems, or maybe it’s just her entire staff. “Take him before he ravages my shirt with snot.” It may be Zoom, but you still have to look respectable.

She’s clicking the unmute button, cripes, time is running out. I tempt my son with games, books, and food. Finally, his ears prick up, and I manage to evacuate him just in time.

Such is life for a stay-at home father in 2021. It is absolutely charming and it is also, as Rob Sturrock highlights in his book Man Raises Boy, filled with dark corners and challenges.

Sturrock does the hard yards in laying out the pretty dismal state of fathering in Australia, albeit with a slightly monocultural lens. 


Needless to say the issues are transferable to New Zealand. The impact of generations of absentee bumbling fathers who wouldn’t dare change a nappy, the prevalence and numbing effect of porn, digital bullying, and so on. I don’t need to labour the point here, fathering, and more widely, masculinity is in a crisis.

Sturrock pinpoints the industrial revolution as a turning point. Fathers who had until then mostly worked locally and been more hands-on in raising their kids, suddenly started working long hours in factories, away from home. And so the absenteeism began.

He also mentions a deeper factor that deserves more attention: the forced dislocation through colonisation from indigenous ways of fathering, to be replaced by some dogmatic Christian ideas. It’s time we acknowledge this and create space for men to reclaim what has been lost.


Inspired by Sturrock, I suggest the public sector could make it easier for fathers to be fathers from the get-go by providing equal paternity leave for dads, and equal pay for women.

We also need to invest in training to help men learn how to father differently from how they may have been fathered, and to embed the role of fathers in our culture(s) through the creation of cultural rites of passage for boys and men.

As a union, the PSA could continue to lead the charge in advocating for structures of work which enable men to be attentive fathers. 

Lastly Sturrock challenges us to action. There is no reason fathers shouldn’t be doing very nearly everything mothers can. This book is an important read that challenges fathers to roll-up our sleeves and get involved.




Also in this issue:

News in Brief

In our News in Brief, Pasefika representation is being implemented across our union, we announce a new Māori leadership role, and acknowledge the anniversary of the March 15 attacks.

Read More

President's Message

Kia ora e te whānau o Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi

Read More

Nevertheless we're Persisting!

The theme for our Women’s Network Conference in March was to have been ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’.

Read More

"I found it very easy"

A year into the global pandemic, the roll out of vaccinations is being welcomed by many workers on the frontline.

Read More

Saving our Libraries

The PSA has helped defeat a proposal to partially-privatise Wellington library and slash its budget.

Read More

Bridging the Digital Divide

Imagine a world where you can’t just jump online to apply for jobs, access services or communicate with friends or family.

Read More

“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

The opening hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mana Wahine Inquiry have heard powerful kōrero about the power, authority and status held by wāhine Māori in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

Read More

Hard won recognition

An interim equal pay agreement for DHB administration and clerical workers is being greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

Read More

“We’ve come a long way”

Ten years on from the February 22 earthquake we reflect on the challenges faced by our members in Canterbury as they helped their community to rebuild.

Read More

Summer Snaps Competition

We’ve had a great response to our PSA Plus Holiday Homes Photo competition with some quality snaps making it hard to choose a winner.

Read More

Fight back in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has deeply shaken hopes for democracy but public servants and unions are fighting back.

Read More

Plea for more sick leave

PSA home support members have told a parliamentary select committee they need more sick leave to keep themselves and their clients safe.

Read More

What do we want from health & disability review?

As we await the Government’s response to the health and disability sector review, we asked our PSA Community Public Services and DHB sector committees what they’re looking for.

Read More

"No fear factor" about disability

The formation of a network for disabled staff at Inland Revenue snowballed out of a desire to move beyond a “one click, one size fits all” mentality.

Read More

Leading the Way

It may say something about Brad Hedger’s commitment to the union that he agreed to speak to Working Life about his role as a PSA delegate just days before his wedding.

Read More

Climate Talk

New Zealand is stealing from the peoples of the Pacific. We are stealing their land, their homes, their water, and in doing so, we are jeopardising their future.

Read More

Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

Read More

#My Mihi challenge

Learning a language is about starting out small and taking that first step.

Read More

Around & About

The Pride March in Auckland features among the events in our PSA picture page for this issue.

Read More

Big Brother Bosses - should you be worried?

Imagine you’re using a computer. Someone else installed software on it, and uses it to track your keystrokes, learn your password and access your personal email account.

Read More