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

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Help" is a Four-Letter Word
We recently received an email from a reader who shared with us a letter she wrote to her then-husband (but never sent to him). In the letter, she describes with candor and accuracy just why we abhor the use of the word "helping" when referring to work that either parent does around the house or for the kids. In traditional marriages, help may be all well and good. But in ESP relationships, using the term "help" in this sense can be toxic. We help each other all the time, of course, but not as a way to dump primary housework or childraising responsibilities onto our partner. And so, with permission from our insightful, direct and right-on reader, we give you The Letter You Wouldn't Want to Receive:

"Dear Husband,
I'm done pussyfooting around. The truth is: I do not want your "help" around the house.

Do not "help" me by doing the dishes after dinner. Just DO them because they need doing, and because I'm now busy giving our daughter a bath, and will later be busy putting her to bed while you play on the computer or watch TV.

Do not "help" me by vaccuuming the floors. Just DO it because it needs to be done, and because I've already scrubbed the toilet and bathtub today.

Do not "help" me by taking out the trash. Just DO it because it's stinking up the kitchen, and because I'm busy doing my, our daughter's and YOUR laundry.

Do not "help" me by taking our daughter to the park so I can bake the cake you want to take to work with you. Just DO it because she wants to go and has seen very little of you this week.

Do not "help" me by going grocery shopping. Just go buy the groceries already, because you need to eat, as do your daughter and I, and because I prepare 99.99% of all meals in this house. Oh, and while you're there, please, please pick up whatever necessary food items that you realise I have forgotten to put on the list; part of doing the grocery shopping is looking in the fridge & cupboards to see what we need. The list is supposed to be a tool for you at the grocery store, not do the decision-making for you.

I do not want your "help" because doing all that needs to be done to keep a household running smoothly and clean enough to avoid living in a biohazard area is not my sole responsibility. "Helping" me implies that you are somehow pulling my weight and denies your own responsibilities when it comes to contributing to our household. Just do it because it needs doing - not because I deserve "help getting my work done".

You claim to be a feminist, and to believe in gender equality. So, take the blinders off and see your "help" for what it is: a way for you to avoid household responsibility.

Thank you.

PS I love you anyway, and I know you mean well... but it is high time to put your money where your feminist mouth is and stop "helping"."


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