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

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sharing Nicely
This humorous article in today's New York Times discusses 'alpha' and 'beta' personalities and how difficult it can be to share the household domain with your dearest. The kitchen is highlighted here, with several examples of men who rule this space and women who feel pushed aside there.

It is hard to share nicely. Sometimes the best solution is to get out of each other's way and surrender parts of the household to each other. But with things like cooking and keeping the kitchen in order, it is hard to abdicate all authority and responsibility to your partner.

Another solution is to divide the realm and lower your standards. Think of sharing as a great exercise in letting go. Control freaks (such as me) can feel themselves tense up when they can't have things their way; that tensing can be a signal to practice letting go instead...just to see what disaster might happen. After all, what's the worst thing that could happen if your husband prepares a horrid meal and no one eats it. I can almost guarantee that what you are imagining is not as bad as the consequences of butting in and 'fixing' the situation mid-preparation.

People learn by experimenting and experience. If the meal is inedible, the fact that the family rejects it is far more powerful as a learning tool than if you pointed out ahead-of-time that your spouse was 'doing it wrong'.

I can say all of this because I have internal dialogue with myself frequently about not butting in. I want equality much more than perfection, and so I give myself the 'what's the worse thing that could happen?' quiz when Marc folds the towels 'wrong', dresses the kids 'wrong', or puts the toys away in all the 'wrong' places. If I can stop my mouth from criticizing or my eyes from rolling, I can either learn to live with Marc's way of doing things or he can figure out over time whether I might have a better way (or not). If things really bug me, I can bring them up some other time instead of right when the 'wrong' is committed. At least that's the theory!


Blogger wwwmama said...

Oh, I struggle with this all the time! It's one of the things that makes me feel like I don't quite make the grade when it comes to equally shared parenting. I like things a certain way, so I end up doing them myself or even re-doing them when my husband does them in a way I don't like.
I want to let go, but it's not easy for me. I have tried raising the issue in a neutral way when we're not stressed out, hoping to show him that my way of cleaning or organizing or whatever is better. But that doesn't always feel fair, either. I think women are socialized to tune into an efficient and clean domestic space more than men are, so things bother me that don't bother my husband, and I'm torn between wanting him to care like I do and not wanting to become a nag...or wanting to care less myself.
I'd love to hear more about how you deal with this issue on a daily basis and whether you have any tips on letting go, too. One thing that has worked for me and my partner is using humor, but that only helps when the stress level isn't too high.

1:02 PM  

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