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

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Competent and Important Dads

Research released today by the Fatherhood Institute in the UK delivers an encouraging message about how most mothers feel about the parenting skills of their husbands. The Fatherhood Institute is the UK's thinktank for fatherhood issues, and their data may represent 'mums' rather than 'moms' - but I say it's close enough to be applicable to US families too. Here's what the research says:
  • 68% of mums say that dad is just as good at looking after the kids as them
  • 95% of men and women say it is important for dads to spend time caring for children during their first two years
  • 67% of women and 72% of men say society values a child's relationship with mother more than father
  • 59% of people say that society assumes mothers are good for children, but fathers have to prove it
  • 66% of fathers regret not having more time to spend with their children
  • 70% of people say there should be 'zero tolerance' if fathers do not take on their parenting responsibilities.

The Institute provides recommendations to the British government with the aim to increase fathers' involvement in their children's lives (particularly during the first 2 years). One recommendation calls for 3 months of paid paternity leave rather than an extension to Britain's paid maternity leave policy that is currently under government consideration. Under the proposed extension of paid maternity leave, mothers would be allowed to give some of their leave to their partner, while under the Fatherhood Institute's recommendation each parent would have a finite and equal amount of paid leave to use - or lose. The difference between these two proposals is subtle but powerful. One will likely lead to more gender inequality and the other has the potential to equalize the involvement of two competent and important parents.

I'd vote for the Fatherhood Institute's plan.


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