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, January 09, 2008

Primary Parent Territory

Being the authors of a blog on equally shared parenting makes us hyper-vigilant to inequality in our own lives. And while we don't recommend this type of scrutiny to everyone, we like turning over every stone. It's a game to us, as well as a way to stay true to our ideals - to not let social norms unconsciously creep into our lives.

So, in our hyper-vigilant state, we notice that some aspects of parenting seem to require extra effort and ingenuity to accomplish as equals. One is being your child's Suzuki violin coach. The Suzuki music program has long required one parent only attend all the lessons and handle all the home practice sessions with the child. Most Suzuki-trained teachers frown on (or outright forbid) co-parent involvement in order to establish a consistent pattern for learning. We get this - it makes sense.

But what if??? Our daughter M, now 5 1/2, has been enjoying Suzuki violin lessons since this past Summer. By and large, I've been her primary Suzuki parent, attending all but 2 lessons and supervising all but a handful of practices. Do we stick with the status quo because it works, or do we attempt to equalize our involvement?

We're not sure, truth be told. For now, I'm going to stick with my role because I love it (we play our violins together every day - so fun) and so does M. But we're bending from tradition by involving Marc in a dynamic way. Marc, being a non-musician, has a different way of appreciating M's progress. He can learn right along with her. This plays out in many ways - like M racing to show Marc that she can play a new piece while he's cleaning up in the kitchen, or grinning as she teaches him how to hold the bow. They both have fun making up lyrics to each new piece she learns, and Marc makes sure he keeps up with the lesson plan each week so he can participate along with me.

So even we ESP-devotees don't strive for exact equality in everything we do. But we believe that we both have something we can bring to M's violin training, and we're dedicated to assuring that she gets a dose of each parent.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your over-scrutiny...we have the same hobby. This may seem unrelated but bear with me.

I like to think I've developed a pretty keen radar for unnecessary appeals to the importance of providing the "consistency" of a single primary caregiver. Vague and unsubstantiated threats of psychological damage promoted by various "experts" push dads and other non-birthing-parents out of the picture and place an unnecessary burden on birthing/nursing moms, especially with infants. On a lesser scale, this Suzuki assertion that one parent must do the musical teaching and interaction strikes me as a variation on that theme, but with stakes that aren't as high, and thus it seems even more unnecessary. It seems like you've already found out that in music, as in the rest of life, you have different but wonderfully complementary approaches. I know those Suzuki teachers can be pretty serious though; if we were in your shoes I'm not sure we would have the guts to do something as blatant as trading off which parent goes to class...

1:24 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I agree - violin lessons are hardly high stakes! I love your description of the issue, and keen radar is just what one needs to notice the sneaky "rules" that can be broken.

9:05 PM  

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