What a difference a take makes

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Canada's new Universal Child Care Benefit, which took effect this month, pays each family $100 per month (about $90 U.S.) for each child under 6.

This quote from the Montreal Gazette describes the program thusly: "The plan to pay out $1,200 a year to parents for each child under 6 years old was a key plank in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's election campaign and a promise that proved to be popular with voters."

But here's an American take on the story giving readers a decidedly different impression: "Canada's new Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has ventured into territory where few men dare to tread: the mommy wars. Mr. Harper's first budget included a new policy that takes effect this month and has become a lightning rod in the debate between stay-at-home moms and their working peers."

To be fair, the Wall Street Journal deserves credit as the only major American print (or online) news outlet to give the story big play this past holiday weekend. And the Montreal Gazette piece covered a very different angle. But it's striking that the Canadian online press (try Googling "canada child care payment") referred to the program almost universally as one for parents, not mothers, while the Journal piece seems to fixate on mothers taking advantage of the benefit to stay home full time and how the program has exacerbated the alleged war between working mothers and full-time homemaker mothers. This take is unfair to women and it's unfair to the growing number of men who are more involved as fathers.

Are mothers the vast majority of full-time American parents? You bet. Are fathers more involved than ever? That, too. And they deserve notice and inclusion. Check out this blog, where caretaking dads explained what it feels like to be largely ignored by the media:

I gave up a lucrative executive position to spend more time with my two young children. Colleagues thought I was crazy. But I have no remorse. I have a very fulfilling 9-5 job and know that I have the talent to go back to a job like my old one in the future when my kids get older. I have the best career in the world – being a dad. – Anonymous, dad to two young children under 5

Let's hope all media outlets catch on and catch up, soon.