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, March 21, 2008

Fowl Play

So one day I came home from work and Marc had roasted a chicken for dinner (it was his night to cook). Yum. He followed a recipe he found online (we love Epicurious) and added some honeyed carrots and a bit of pasta on the side. We all gathered to eat. Only there was one problem - he had adventurously bought a fowl instead of a chicken. It was really cheap, and he figured what could go wrong? It was a mass of rubber.

This is about where we moms might be tempted to burst out laughing and ridicule our husbands for their pathetic cooking knowledge. Or, if we don't have a sense of humor, call them morons (like this Work It Dad story here about - oh the horror - boiling too much pasta; I'm starting to worry about author Avi Spivack). But ESP moms don't get to choose either of these options, unless of course we prefer to be treated this way ourselves when we don't quite do something perfectly.

Belittling our partners when they do housework or childraising tasks imperfectly tends to accomplish two things - it cements the sting in their minds for a long time, and it makes them that much less likely to reach for housework/childraising equality the next time they don't know exactly how things should be done. No one is born with the knowledge of how to boil the right amount of pasta or how a fowl tastes when eaten straight. Men are not to blame if they make mistakes; they are only to blame if they hide behind their 'incompetence' to avoid learning.

So, instead, I bit my tongue and we laughed together about the horrid tasting fowl. And Marc (and I) learned the lesson to avoid roasting one in the future without being put down for trying. When life hands you rubber chicken, make chicken soup!


Blogger JohnMcG said...

Then there;s Up With Mom's husband's awful forgotten towel incident, which she saw fit to mention six weeks later.

Because, you know, moms never make mistakes like that.

Actually, the problem is, especially in a situation that is somewhat unequal, Mom handles the consequences of her own mistakes, but also has to (or feels like she has to) deal with the consequeunces of Dad's mistakes, leading to this conflict. Men (and I think all people) prefer to be able to clean up their own messes rather than be yelled at for making a mess.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

You bring up an excellent point! Dad's mistakes are so often publically handled, while Mom's are a private matter for her to resolve. Thanks for exposing this inequality - I agree 100%.

I consider the 'Up With Moms' blog to be a poster-child for moms who can't let go of controlling parenting. Letting go runs deeper than many of us initially think, huh?

Thanks, JohnMcG!

12:46 PM  
Blogger Amy@UWM said...

Hi to both John and Amy and thanks for mentioning my blog. As I told John when he made the same comment on my blog, he makes a great point about moms not getting called out on their mistakes(lord knows I've made many)like Dads do.

As for me being the "poster child" for being a controlling parent, I think that's an unfair judgment to make based on one post that I wrote mostly for comic effect. And while I "called out" my husband's mistakes on my blog (where, by the way, I also often call out my own), in real life, it was a Me: "Hey, you forgot her towel today." Him:"Oh." kind of conversation.

In real life, we do alot of what you prescribe here on Equally Shared Parenting. And despite my post, my husband and I still share many, many tasks associated with raising our kids and maintaining our household. In many instances, I have stepped back to let him "learn" some things. In fact, my husband has become an excellent cook by experimenting, making mistakes and learning over time. But as Avi pointed out in his post, men and women are wired differently and there are some things that most women will naturally do better than most men like intuiting our children's feelings and nurturing their health (I disagree with your assertion that this is a "culturally induced belief"). And rather than me continuing to expect my husband to be good at things he's clearly not, we're choosing find better ways to divide and conquer.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

First let me apologize for what could easily be taken personally - the comment about 'poster child.' I did not intend that to refer to you as an individual, or even to your family situation, but rather to your site's overall tone when it comes to the adequacy of men's parenting. Even when used for comic effect, phrases like 'honey, you're fired' imply that you are his supervisor rather than his equal. This mindset is one of the things that Marc and I are working to overcome in order to help couples become true parenting peers. ESP dads can't be fired from any responsibility by anyone but themselves. So, from my perspective as a woman dedicated to equal parenting, I see stereotypes in your writing that exemplify the 'moms rule/dads drool' motif.

In the absence of definitive proof, we'll probably have to agree to disagree about the nature vs culture issue. I'm with you that each person has strengths and weaknessness to bring to the relationship, but we differ when it comes to assigning these to gender. If, heaven forbid, you were killed and your husband was left to be sole parent, would your kids grow up deficient in nurturing or would your husband (now without your guidance or reminding) find those qualities in himself? It feels like a huge burden for you to believe he is truly incapable.

We, too, divide and conquer on many things. It's just practical to do so. But Marc would have something to say to me if I labeled him a failure at anything and took over.

I would welcome continuing this discussion via email (amy@equallysharedparenting.com) if you're interested. It is always good to talk through different perspectives and learn from each other.

9:09 AM  

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