Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Join the EquallySharedParenting.com Email List
As a suggestion from a reader, we are starting an email list. The list will be a great way to keep in touch with our core supporters - fellow equally sharing parents, prospective equal sharers, and just-plain-interested colleagues. We'll use the list to let you know about any significant update to the website (not for every new blog post or Question of the Week, however) and to keep you updated on information about Equally Shared Parenting itself (such as how the project is growing, or ways you can get involved). We'd also love to use the list to solicit comments on specific ideas for the site upon occasion.

So please consider this our invitation to sign up. You can do so by clicking on the Email List link in the What's New section on the homepage, or by emailing us at info@equallysharedparenting.com and including 'email list' in the subject.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Rage of Imbalance
A psychotherapist friend recently gave us some 'real world' insight into the need for more equal sharing amongst married couples with babies. She says that the minute she sees a new client on her schedule who also happens to be a new mother, she already knows what the main topic will be for their first session. It will be rage at her husband. The implication is that a new mother becomes instantly chained to endless days and nights of sleepless giving, while her husband's life generally goes on as it did before the baby's birth. How would this be different if both parents shared the effects of that huge change more evenly?

The intense rage that a new mother feels exemplifies the very worst of unequal parenting. The baby's arrival switches on a completely different life for the typical mother, her old life gone in the blink of an eye. If her new life isn't exactly what she wants, resentment can build quickly. This is why it is vital for parents-to-be to have discussions about equality expectations as early as possible. No expectant mother or father can fully understand what he/she will be feeling once the baby arrives, but the couple can have these discussions none-the-less. If she's thinking 'he'll be my equal partner' but he's only thinking 'I'm going to enjoy watching her become a mom', trouble is forecast. The ideal time to begin equally shared parenting is the minute your baby is born!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Equal Sharing Down-Under
Equally shared parenting is a hot topic in Australia, as discussed in this excellent piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on 12/20. The author, Sacha Molitorisz, is a father of an 11-month old baby who recently took an extended paternity leave from work. He summarizes the high and low points of his stay-at-home dad duty, concluding that 'the more a father is around, the more he'll see, the more he'll bond' and 'it made me determined to spend as much time as I can at home. That means working from home when possible, and, in the future, it means that Jo [his wife] and I will try to share the breadwinning role.'

Sacha describes a paper released from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner 'arguing that men need to break free from the breadwinner model and start following the "mummy track"'. The Commissioner's paper says that primary breadwinning is physically, mentally and emotionally damaging to men, and gives them insufficient time for family and intimate relationships.

Finally, he describes data from Melbourne University's Key Centre for Women's Health in Society that links unsupportive dads and distressed mothers. And another author is quoted describing the equally important link between men doing more housework and having more sex. Just as I suspected.

It feels great to hear talk of equal parenting from across the globe.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More than Useless Babble
We've been having fun checking out Babble, the new online parenting magazine I blogged about recently (see below). Babble is indeed fun and fresh, with about equal input from men and women. The great thing is that it treats parenting as every bit a father's domain, in a no-big-deal-of-course-I'm-into-my-kid kind of way. I didn't find one article about bumbling dads or mothers complaining that dads don't 'help out' enough. Ah!

If I have to issue one criticism at this point, it is that Babble may be trying a bit too hard to be edgy. But it had me laughing out loud and it covered territory that other parenting magazines don't touch. I'll be marking Babble a website favorite.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy News about Gen X and Gen Y
It's not surprising that there is a website called happynews.com but it's still encouraging to see an article where two leading research institutes, the Families and Work Institute and Catalyst, are concluding that younger workers want more flexibility and balance between their work and personal lives.

It would be a happy day indeed if the workplace responded in a meaningful way to these desires. Few things could impact the ability of a couple to equally share more than an abundance of jobs that are flexible, meaningful, and available.

What are the most significant hurdles to equally sharing that you face?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

From the Mouths of 10-Year Olds
This just in...a story today on ABC News describes a University of Maryland study of 7 to 10 year old children's attitudes toward parents working or staying at home. Results show that a mother working outside the home makes sense to the children, but a father who stays at home isn't quite so well accepted. This stands to reason, since women have collectively made great strides in the workplace while men still rarely choose to stay home with the kids. Okay, so that's not headline news. Someday, I hope those kids will be equally comfortable with their fathers' decisions to stay home as they are with their mothers' decisions to work.

But, the beauty of this study is that the kids suggest a prescription for balance that most of the world overlooks. The 10-year olds in the study were asked how both mothers and fathers could be involved at home. One child said, "How about they take turns working and being with the kids? Then it's fair for everyone. Everyone gets to do some things that they like and the kids get to see both their mom and dad." Well, well, well...around here that's called Equally Shared Parenting. Let's hear it for the kids!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Parenting Magazine for Both Parents
Tonight, a new online parenting magazine will debut. And it will be a twist on the standard "parenting" magazine that really only caters to mothers. The new read is called Babble, and proclaims that it is for both mothers and fathers. We haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but we're hopeful.

When you pick up an issue of the most commonly read parenting magazines, you get taglines like 'What Matters to Moms' (Parenting) or 'The Magazine for Thinking Mothers' (Brain,Child). Even if men don't typically read these magazines, isn't it a bit disingenuous to exclude them so blatantly? So, let's all check out Babble....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Balance is Good for Business
We've always suspected that employees who can work the schedules they want are good workers. And this is exactly what a recent article in Computerworld says about IT and other business professionals. According to author Mary K. Pratt, "By giving employees flexibility, a company gets a better, more committed workforce that can help keep it up and running, even during natural or man-made catastrophes." Employee morale, retention and productivity improve when people have more control over their lives.

The article provides some interesting statistics from a survey of 1,311 senior executives: 80% said that they would seriously consider turning down (or definitely turn down) a promotion that would hurt their work/life balance. And 87% said that work/life balance is critical in their decisions to join or remain with an employer. These numbers, from an Association of Executive Search Consultants survey in May 2006, point to the value that balance plays in workers at even top executive positions.

So balance isn't just good for individuals and families - it is good for companies as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Can We Stop Saying 'Helper'?
For awhile now, parenting books and articles have suggested we all stop saying 'my husband is babysitting the kids'. No, he's taking care of/playing with/hanging out with/in charge of the kids - the kids that are his as well as their mother's.

I'd like to apply the same plea to the word 'helper' when it comes to a man's role around the house. When we call men 'helpers', we put them in a one-down position and it is assumed that they are subservient to women in the housework domain. How will they ever feel equal this way? They are team members, not apprentices or students. However well meaning we may be when we say 'oh, my husband helps out a lot around the house', we won't get to equality by reserving the primary role only for ourselves.

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