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

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's Our Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and rather than simply wish all you fellow dads out there a happy day by the barbeque with a beer, I'm going to wish you a happy life. You see, it used to be that being a dad was rather narrowly defined as a good provider and role model of a Man. Now, a father can be anything from this traditional figure to the sole caretaking parent. In between these extremes, we guys get to be 'involved dads' or ESP dads or stay-at-home dads. It is kind of like technicolor meets fatherhood!

A few readers of Lisa Belkin's New York Times article on ESP have criticized the Times for printing something that denigrates fathers on the very day that we should be applauding them and slapping them on the back for jobs well done. Of course you might guess that I disagree, and that I feel these readers are missing the whole point of the article. Yes, the statistics about how much housework is done by men versus women are still off balance. But who's to blame here? Is it really just men? No - it takes two genders to create this inequality, and decades and decades of cultural brainwashing about our required family roles.

What if instead of complaining and blaming anyone for the commonality of unequal housework, we instead celebrated the fact that we can indeed change the situation? Men no longer have to accept being saddled with primary breadwinning or being relegated to subordinates in their own homes. We can fight, alongside our partners (not against them), for our right to balanced lives, intimate and equal connections with our kids, and equal say in how often the bedsheets get changed.

So, happy Father's Day to dads of all stripes and colors. It's our day, and it's our time.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read the article in the Times and I am pleased that the concept of equality is being embraced and championed by so many couples. I am a stay-at-home father and I also work part-time. My spouse has a very demanding job but still comes home and puts in more than her share. I think we are striving for equality every second, every minute of every day. Not only equality in raising of the children, handling household chores and providing for the household but also in having non-traditional views about gender roles and what they mean in modern society. I give credit to my wife because she gives me the strength and encouragement to be what I think a "real" man should be. Likewise, I think I support her and make her experience as a wife and mother easier. For this Father's Day I just want to give thanks to all the men and women who are stepping up and reclaiming the freedom that women and men both deserve to have in their relationships and as parents to their children. This is a legacy we can be proud to give to our children.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Amy and Marc-

First, thanks so much for including me in the 'thank yous' from your earlier blog. I'm greatly touched.

Second, congrats on being a part of such an awesome article. I felt that it was the most comprehensive media approach to the subject that I've read up to now.

Third, good for the Times staff to stick this around Father's Day and I'm thrilled a few hairs were ruffled - as would be expected. Your assessment for the crankier of the responses is spot on.

It's going to a fascinating perspective to come back to this article and this time in our lives when our kids are grown and having families of their own. I've written before that I feel you and Jessica are true pioneers in the still wild west of parenting and this article truly cements it. Congrats!

Lastly, Marc, I'm really thrilled to read about your new job and am wowed at how strongly you and Amy held out until something came your way that made sense with your beliefs.

Hope you guys are having a great week and keep in touch!




12:53 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I came to your blog through the NYT article but hadn't read the comments there--my husband and I were surprised and, I admit, somewhat amused to hear that some readers took offense to the piece as somehow man-hating or anti-fathers. We don't celebrate Father's Day and Mother's Day because we think of ourselves as parents and are offended by the highly gendered tone of Mother's/Father's Day cards, ads, and so forth (you know--Dad coming home from work and roughhousing with the kids, who then give him a tie; Mom cooking and cleaning and getting the kids ready for bed, hoping to be sent flowers; 'humorous' implications about the total incompetence of men as overgrown children all round). From our perspective, then, it's hard to wrap one's mind around the idea that an article describing fair parenting shared by equally competent, loving, and loved partners is sexist ...

Thanks for the blog and the web site.


8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was very glad to see the article in the NYT - the "peanut butter" article in the Globe on stay at home dads was far too "looky - dad takes care of kid! Looky" and a great turn-off before it got to paragraph two about recent research.

My husband is shifting from teaching to full-time and contract work, and we need to rewrite the rules here a bit. One thing I noticed as I (once again) got ready to reboot the who-does-what-when situation: the resources and the article were geared toward families with daycare age kids, not school age or even preteen kids.

Our kids are 10 and 12 and I really want to include them in the shared household equation. We have them doing some chores, which leads to fights, which leads to the chores getting done or else ... but I would like them to see this in a more inclusive way. I want them to learn how to do more things for themselves, learn systematic responsibility, and I want them to see their role as an important part of a fair household equation. It is less authoritarian to bring them in to negotiate their work (although that work will happen!).

Are there any resources for this? Surprisingly, in this day and age it is nearly as radical a notion that preteens and teens pull some weight as the idea that Dads do more than "baby sit and help out".

9:55 AM  
Blogger ED said...

This isn't the first time I've been to your blog - I occasionally stop by to read. ESP isn't a goal for our family, strictly speaking, although equality in responsibility is. We're a reverse-trad family, so Dad is in charge of the home life. Our dream is to someday be a half-income family - living off of one part-time salary, with both parents highly involved in parenting.

I loved the NYT article. I can understand, however, why some people felt it was anti-man or anti-father. There was some rather gloomy (but realistic, IME) discussion of barriers to equal parenting, some of which reflected poorly on men in general. The bit where they talk about how even in families where Dad stays home and Mom works full time, Mom still does most of the chores? Also, that women still feel pressured by society to take responsibility for the house, even in reversed families?

Overall, though, I thought the tone was positive. And hearing our own problems stated so clearly was actually very encouraging: When we acknowledge that there is a problem, we can start to solve it, and make greater moves towards equality.

The article was challenging Dads on their special day to be better fathers - and not to just rest on their laurels. That's a good thing. I also think ESP is a good thing to promote as an option. I have an interest in seeing the kinds of flexible work options that would support ESP families, so I hope to see more people out there working to do what you, Marc and Amy, are doing - and hopefully pave the way for more dynamic lifestyles and for families to think outside the box.

11:14 AM  

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