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

Monday, December 17, 2007

Daddy Wars or Growing Pains?

Some of our favorite bloggers are duking it out about the term 'Daddy Wars'. And I kinda have to agree with all of them. I'll go one further and add my own ESP twist to their arguments.

The problem, I think, starts with the definition of the term. If Daddy Wars are to be likened to Mommy Wars, then they refer to fathers verbally attacking each other's work/life balance choices. Think SAHD lashing out at absent breadwinner dad, and working dad belittling SAHD. Or less involved dad being threatened by involved dad, as this article from the UK suggests. This dad-against-dad definition, most of us agree, is a sad one. We've all had enough of the trumped-up Mommy Wars to hope we can sidestep the same media hype for fathers (or worse yet, actual barb-throwing by real fathers).

But another Daddy Wars definition, as presented by Rebeldad and mentioned in the recent USA Today article on fathering, is a war between fathers who want more time to be with their kids and old-fashioned workplaces that scorn such desires. This definition is far more palatable and plausible, although it really doesn't belong to fathers only. It is parents (or any worker who wants a balanced life) against employers.

And don't forget about the internal 'wars' that are inevitable between fathers and mothers (or between clashing feelings within one individual), who have to reconcile their beliefs that men are primary breadwinners and women are primary parents with their desires for equality. This whole paradigm shift toward equal sharing on the work and family fronts is not going to be easy!

To me, the real issue is the growing pains that come from this paradigm shift - not as sexy as 'wars', but more descriptive. Men are growing, as a group, into the idea that there is more to life than their role of breadwinner. Women are growing, as a group, toward equal pay, equal jobs, equal work status, equal education (and in big cities, they are surpassing men on many of these markers). Employers are growing, as a group, toward embracing flexibility as a way to retain excellent employees. Men and women are growing, as a group, into people who are claiming their rights to balanced lives. And it's about having a good life, whether or not you have children.

I, for one, would like to skip the use of 'Daddy Wars' to signify either male infighting or men/workplace battles. But we do need a nice, catchy name to signify our collective growth toward balanced lives for all. Any ideas?


Blogger ED said...

The Daddy (or Mommy) Revolution? That implies more of a fight against an institution, with change as its goal instead of destruction. Plus big companies are more likely to switch sides in a revolution than they are in a war.

I like the idea of a new term. That way, we have a term that can be used for moms as well, to give an alternate concept to the Mommy Wars rhetoric, a concept that captures the *real* issues. Repurposing "wars" for dads creates an unpalatable gender divide - the Mommy Wars are against each other, and the Daddy Wars are against an outdated institution? As if women weren't also struggling against an outdated institution? No, we're fighting for the same cause here. Let's use the same language for the same purposes. The Mommy Revolution may be more about balance in the workplace, and the Daddy Revolution more about balance in family life, but they are two sides to the same coin: Family balance.

With liberty and balanced life choices for all! LOL.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I love your idea of Revolution rather than War. It somehow does sound much more positive and productive. So maybe the Balance Revolution? That would include both mothers and fathers (and even non-parents who want balance). Thanks for the great idea!

9:02 AM  

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