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10 March 2023 - Story

A young man earns happiness after fulfilling his male caregiver role

While having fun interacting with his young children and wife in their small house, a 27-year-old Thy Thorn, claimed he has now become a caring father and husband because he prefers spending spare time with his family rather than going out with his friends.

Reading a caregiver book to his children, Mr. Thorn believes, helps to improve their literacy and interest in books. At the same time, his perspective toward gender roles has also improved.

Mr. Thorn and his wife, Ms. Sreymom, have three children - two boys and one girl. He makes a living as a Chef Assistant in his village, about 15 kilometres from the nearest central town of Kampong Cham province. He and his family live in a small traditional wooden house built around wooden frames, roofed with zinc, and supported by wooden columns, which his father-in-law owns.

Mr. Thorn is the only one earning income to support the family since his wife is still on maternity with a three-month-old son.

With little income from his temporary work, Mr. Thorn recalled his past experiences. He said he spent most of his free time drinking alcohol with his brother-in-law and friends. When he arrived home late at night, he used inappropriate words and spoke badly to his wife and children.

Due to a lack of awareness regarding caregiving, Mr. Thorn and his wife demonstrated aggressive behaviour in raising their children, resulting in a distance in the family relationships. Mr. Thorn said, "I rarely helped my wife with household chores or took care of my children because I thought it was a sole responsibility and duty of my wife," adding that this resulted in an unpleasant relationship in his family.

Mr. Thorn and his wife took part in the Save the Children's Grandparents, parents, and communities join forces to give boys and girls 0-3 years old a healthy start in life (GRAND) project, which supports caregivers to build a better understanding about the importance of childcare and child development for their young children. Mr. Thorn also acknowledges the value of sharing responsibilities with his wife in household chores.

Mr. Thorn and Ms. Sreymom were invited to participate in the male engagement group and grandmothers' sessions, which have shaped their views on childcare. 

Now Mr. Thorn has started spending time playing and interacting with his children, especially with his three-year-old boy. Mr. Thorn said, "I have built new ways of communicating with my children for them to grow well."

Speaking with a big smile on her face, Ms. Sreymom revealed that she was thrilled to see a good relationship between her husband and her children, "My husband started by creating a safe environment for our children so that they feel warm and close," she continued "When he reads a book for our children, they are delighted and enjoying the moments together."

Ms. Sreymom is proud of her husband and happy to see how group sessions for male and female caregivers benefited her family. Notably, Mr. Thorn now engages in household chores and helps his wife cook and care for their children. Mr. Thorn told us that by doing so, the whole family is happy.