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

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ESP for Men?

Over the last couple of years we have received numerous questions about ESP both from our personal lives and through this website. Previously, we posted answers to these questions through a now defunct section of the website called Question of the Week. We are going to revisit some of these questions in the coming weeks as a way to address a few common themes.

This equal thing is all well and good, but come on...isn't it just a way to get guys to do more housework and change more diapers? I'm a very involved dad but I have no interest in more chores. What would make a guy want to subscribe to this way of life?

I expect that this question would be foremost on a guy's mind when he first hits this website, and I've even had friends jokingly say 'Shhh...don't tell my wife about this - you'll ruin it for the rest of us'. But believe me, if anything, it was ME driving the equality thing rather than Amy from the very beginning, because it is good for my own balance and happiness. For me, this is not about feminism or fairness (although I'm certainly not against those).

Trying to convince you to equally share is fruitless. I don't want to be in that business, and a man who begrudges this option will not be successful in making it work. That said, in choosing to equally share with Amy, I get a lot in return. I get:

  • A happy wife
  • Guilt-free recreation time for myself
  • Less stress by not being the family's only breadwinner
  • Even more closeness with my kids
  • Being appreciated, not nagged, for the work I do around the house

So for all those guys whose gut reaction is fear that their wives will see this website, there is a huge flip side to doing more dishes or laundry. There are even big reasons why our wives wouldn't want anything to do with equal sharing - things like having to let go of full control of the kids and the house, or having to be out in the working world for decades like men. On the surface, these reactions of ours and theirs can seem justified, but the rewards for reaching equality are so much greater for both parents.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you know from my True North Parenting article on ESP, my husband and I practice ESP. I am perplexed by something that I am hoping you and other readers of your blog can help me with... Why do my girls still prefer me so strongly over my husband? He is with them a lot, taking care of day to day stuff and providing really fun adventures. He is kind, supportive, warm, playful... I just don't get it! Well, with our one year old, who is still nursing, I can see it - but why our 2.5 year old and our 4 year old? While we only recently made our ESP arrangement totally equal, he has always been very involved in their lives and we have been close to equal in child care for a while. And he has always worked from home, since they were born, so he is here often and a part of things very regularly. Any thoughts, ideas, or even just empathy stories?

2:12 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

First of all, I think much of this comes with the territory of being a parent, regardless of which model you are following. The parent dishing out the discipline is certainly not the favored parent, for instance.

The bottom line for us is that the kids don't get to choose which parent will care for them any more than they will get to choose when their curfew is going to be in their teen years. For example, we split the bedtime routine because we each want to spend time with our children even if they prefer the other parent.

When the commitment to sharing persists, a healthy sort of competition can be created between Amy and I. Who can create the most memorable and intimate moments with the kids?

Our daughter has been "rewarding" Amy by only reading her favorite books when Amy puts her to bed. Tonight, after baths were done and PJ's were put on, I suggested to our daughter that we do some riding of her scooter outside in her pajamas before bed. She was giddy with excitement BUT before we went outside I told her I wanted to read the last chapter of her favorite book. She agreed in a heartbeat and we had a pleasant evening.

I firmly believe my suggestion was possible primarily because we have the the structure in place. There was nothing that was going to change who put my daughter to bed tonight and she knew it. I was able to breakdown her "preferred parent" barrier, at least temporarily, setting the stage for more enjoyable future daddy bedtimes.

My advice is to persist! I expect your kids' preferences will change over time and your determination in creating a balanced team will be well worth the effort.

8:16 PM  

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