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, June 09, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Innovative

Father's Day is approaching, and you can tell from the contents of newspapers and magazines. Is it just me, or is there a higher percentage of stories on how involved fathers are with their children these days? I swear there is a turning of the tide. Or maybe I haven't scrutinized Father's Day messages so closely before.

Anyway, a nice piece on involved dads comes from the June issue of the Boston Parents Paper that my son T insisted on bringing home from the free literature table at his preschool today. The article is called You've Come a Long Way, Daddy! I like that twist on the 1970s women's empowerment slogan because I tend to think that involved, competent dads are empowered too - empowered to lead full and authentic lives. The article's message is that today's dads can overcome their legacy as less-than parents and rise to the challenge of equal status with moms. Nice suggestions are included, such as bringing the kids to their doctor's appointments, buying their clothes, doing the dishes, learning the names of the children's teachers and knowing the kids prized possessions. The article ends by coining a term - the fathering 'beast' - which means a wicked involved daddy who's proud of it.

Then there's this piece of fluff in Women's Health magazine. It's a perky and condescending description of why women are so much better at household chores than men, and how to get your man to do more so you can relax. Some of the tips have a small bit of merit, such as resisting the urge to supervise tasks that your spouse has agreed to handle, but the overall tone is, well, repulsive. This article tells women to manipulate their partners, while still holding onto the household management title. Buy him power tools so that he'll mow the lawn, buy him cookbooks so he'll cook and then demand he cook three nights a week, host a poker night so he'll 'beg' for more social gatherings. Allow me to at least leap forward into the 90s! No lasting equality will come of such maneuvering. If you want a true partner, treat your spouse as one. Hat tip to RebelDad for pointing me toward this piece of bad literature.

And finally, a bit of interesting news from the city of Birmingham, Alabama. The new mayor has announced that all city employees will be transitioning to a 4-day work week (that's four 10-hour days, so still full-time). The impetus is saving money on gas. Imagine a whole city functioning on a work schedule that countless other managers think is too risky to offer to employees. Hooray for Birmingham!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. The big problem here seems to be how we think about gender - an "involved" father is "beastly" a "wife" who wants her "man" to do more is manipulative (and the man is easily manipulated. UGH.
ESP should move us toward a world where men/dads can embrace their full selves and women/moms don't have to feel guilty (or lucky) for not doing it all. What year is it again??

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh - and another thing - hurray for Birmingham - but why, oh why, must it be the almighty dollar (the saving gas isn't about the environment) and not what is better for families and society that results in a four day (40 hour) work week.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a friend of Heather Laube and she guided me to your site. This is great! Parent equality - What a concept!

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As fabulous as it is that Birmingham is embracing a 4 day week, this could really pose a problem for workers with children in daycare centers open for only an 8 hour day. I could see single parents really ending up in a pickle here, forced to pay for a fifth day they don't need (most centers don't offer 4 day weeks), but still having to pay an sitter for either pick up or drop off. But for an ESP couple with more resources to pool--it is great.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I'm not sure it's so great that they're going to a 4 day week. From what you said, ALL employees are transitioning to that. Sounds to me like they're not being given the choice in this so it adds no flexibility. I personally would hate to work 10 hour days all the time.
"This will allow our employees more time with their families and at the same time save our city a considerable dollar amount," he said." I doubt it. That's two hours less each day that parents can spend with their children. And in all likelihood, on the day off, the kids are either in school or the parents are still paying for the fifth day of childcare. I'd think this much more interesting if it was just an additional option. Sounds more like a mandate. And gas costs aren't the only thing in life.

8:18 PM  

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