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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sharing is Marital Bliss
I hope you don't mind one more summary of an article from the great special March issue of American Prospect magazine. This one is entitled 'What About Fathers?' and is written by Scott Coltrane, author of Family Man (recommended reading in our Resources section) and associate director of the Center for Family Studies at the University of California-Riverside. Dr. Coltrane says "opinion polls consistently show that the vast majority of Americans think of marriage as an equal partnership and endorse the ideals of sharing decision making, housework, child care, and paid work." Interestingly, he says that this current thinking shifted from a more traditional view decades ago, not just within the last few years.

Dr. Coltrane also says "recent studies show that marriages with more equal sharing are, in fact, the most successful. For example, couples in which only the man -- or the woman -- is the breadwinner are more likely to divorce." And "men who do more housework are also more likely than others to avoid divorce".

As you know, we still have a way to go before the average US family has an equal division of housework and childraising responsibilities between parents. But Dr. Coltrane reminds us that the trend is definitely in the right direction - both here in the US and across Europe.

And here's an interesting (but somewhat sad) idea: In some Scandinavian countries, both parents are eligible for paid parental leave but fathers are entitled to special use-or-lose 'daddy days'. This policy has increased fathers' leave-taking dramatically, per Dr. Coltrane. So, even in these progressive countries where both genders have equal access to time off work to be with the kids, it takes a use-or-lose policy to get the men home? Why do you think this is?

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