Stephanie Smith: Russell Brand focuses on mystical grace. Nappies, not so much

Russell Brand says his wife, Laura, is "well versed in the nuances and complexities of child rearing". (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Russell Brand says his wife, Laura, is "well versed in the nuances and complexities of child rearing". (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
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I suspect Russell Brand will not win Dad of the Year 2019. It’s not looking promising. Last weekend, he was asked if he had ever looked after his small children for a day by himself and he said not, adding: “She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura. She respects and cares for their safety too much.”

Laura is Brand’s wife and mother of their two daughters, Mabel, two, and Peggy, six months. He admitted in the Sunday Times that he doesn’t do much of the practical parenting, explaining he is “very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace. Not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food”.

Priceless, but not appreciated by everyone, especially not mums and dads who do lots of nappy changing and flying the old aeroplane spoon into the baby mouth hangar. He went on to describe himself as “still of a romantic and reflective” disposition, whereas Laura is “extremely well versed in the nuances and complexities of child rearing”.

Ah. Perhaps not surprising, then, if Brand is denounced as some sort of New Age Victorian, respinning the old “women are naturals at child care” rubbish. Because rubbish it is. Try telling an exhausted new mother, on the day her partner returns to work and she finds herself left alone with a tiny, shrieking, puking, endlessly exploding, never-ever-sleeping baby, that she is naturally suited to motherhood, and you deserve a full nappy in your face.

Yet, back to Brand, you’ve got to admire his honesty and self-awareness. He knows looking after children is hard. He admits he’s not good with nappies, feeding and sole care. I’d rather that than a man who has changed a couple of nappies and now believes he’s a 21st century parenting wonder, railing against the lack of public dad-friendly changing facilities, especially to attractive women he meets on an occasional foray to the park or playgroup.

Because women are still doing 60 per cent more unpaid work than men, including cooking, childcare and housework, according to the Office for National Statistics. Women still have significantly less time than men for leisure and, although almost three-quarters of mothers with children work, they still get paid less. Most disappointing of all, hardly any men are taking up shared parental leave to look after their newborns. If new dads really are committed to shared practical parenting, they must try harder, or be more honest.

Meanwhile, I love that Brand is focused on his daughter’s mystical beauty and grace. He’s on to something, and should consider launching grace-promoting classes for all children. Or at least write a book on it. Might even win Dad of the Year then.