Equal Parenting? YES!
The 10/8 issue of Newsweek has a whole section entitled 'Equal Parenting?'. Gotta love the question mark. But seriously, I find it energizing that even the idea of equality in parenting is given such a wide audience. Is the world waking up to the possibility?
The magazine section has three articles, all worth a read. The first is a father's account of an experiment as a SAHD to his newborn daughter, commencing when his wife returned to work at 3 months. He changes diapers, he shops, he cooks, he bathes the baby. Just like a real fully-participating parent! He answers the question of why men would want to do this by saying "it's about reclaiming our share of nurturing from moms." There's a lot of truth in this assessment. Mothers have truly 'claimed' parenting for so long, and there is no reason in the world why this can't be shared.
The second article is a rebuttal of sorts - a mother's semi-sarcastic disbelief in the new involved father. The author is a working mother who appears to have married a man who believes his family is no less important than his career. The man stayed home for the baby's first year while his wife returned to work. However, this article is rife with the classic gatekeeping mindset that has kept fathers from successfully claiming their share of nurturing in the first place. To be fair, the author catches herself in some of her games. Here's a quote: "I should delegate more; but even that seems like one more time-consuming task that would undoubtedly require follow-up nagging. Besides, taking on more than I can handle somehow validates that I'm a good mom and makes up for all that time I spend at work away from my son. The other reason for taking on so much? I fear that if I left 50 percent of everything up to Raj, our son would be eating Popsicles and Cheez-Its for breakfast and showing up at school an hour late wearing his ripped dinosaur pajamas." I could deconstruct these thoughts so easily. Delegate? No - equal parents don't delegate, they negotiate as equals. Nag? Poor plan - again, if you nag, you are still trying to control your subordinate. Not equal. Martyrdom as validation? Wrong again. Being a 'good mom' might be stepping aside and allowing your child's father to nurture. Fear he'll do it 'wrong'? How else will he learn? How else will she learn that he might actually be fantastic at the morning routine? Women who think like this will definitely not get what they think they want - equal parenting. But really, I don't think they want it. They want a helper instead.
The last article is an interview with a University of Maryland sociologist on the statistics of men's childraising time. Women still do more, men are doing more than their fathers did. The really good news here is that men are doing more because they want to, not because they have to. I like that! The bad news is that we're not even close to equally shared parenting. The involved dad may be popping more and more, but the equal dad is still very rare.
Hello, Newsweek! We live, we breathe, we're right HERE on ESP.com! Right, guys?