Nick Clegg – patron saint of stay-at-home dads

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On waking up each morning, it is common for many folk to thank their maker for allowing them to enjoy another day.

Me? I am usually too busy looking for car keys and agreeing with John Humphrys to be thankful for anything, but that is slowly beginning to change.

In the coming weeks, my life, if only for a matter of months, will transform forever and I have one person to thank.

But rather than getting down on my knees before God, the focus of my gratitude is an unlikely one, step forward Nick Clegg.

It is nearly 12 months since a crestfallen Clegg trudged out of public view after the former deputy Prime Minister and his fellow Liberal Democrats were given the mother of all kickings at the ballot box. Politically, he was a dead man walking the moment he tore up his manifesto promise and backed his coalition chum David Cameron’s decision to raise tuition fees.

But nowadays I won’t have a bad word said about Clegg, because he is the guy who made it possible for me to spend quality time with my infant son, having introduced shared parental leave. At the beginning of May, I will be joining a small band of dads who have taken a giant step for trainer-wearing mankind by opting to look after their tiny children while mum returns to work earlier.

Last week it was reported that a miniscule proportion of working men had taken up Clegg’s offer to spend more time with the family, with some commentators dismissing the policy as a failed gimmick.

Although I am yet to begin my four months at the porridge-splattered coalface, I think the criticism is a tad premature and very unfair because most people I talk to about my decision are, at first, surprised before expressing their envy.

The last 20-odd years have seen a massive sea change in the role of the father in British society, with most dads today not batting an eyelid at doing a night feed or changing a dirty nappy in public, while their own fathers offered their support from the nearest public bar or armchair. I am also confident that, in decades to come, men everywhere will raise a pint to Nick Clegg, the patron saint of stay-at-home dads.