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 05, 2008

True North ESP

I was delighted to find out that True North, a new parenting magazine published out of Central Oregon, has included an article about equally shared parenting in its latest issue - complete with links to our website and a fantastic description of ESP. Author Michelle Franco is half of an ESP couple herself. And what is so interesting is that she didn't start out that way. Michelle was the primary parent for the past 4 years, but decided together with her husband to put an ESP arrangement in place to allow her to start her own business. Her description of this purposeful change is inspiring: "...we decided this was the perfect time to implement the "someday" plan about which we often dreamed - equal care time with [our three] girls."

Included in the article are the stories of several other ESP couples as well, with arrangements that show the many ways equal sharing can be created. Some couples strive for day-to-day equality of tasks, whereas others take a longer view.

I give Michelle an A+ for perfectly detailing the definition of ESP, the importance of balance, and the need for communication. She even includes a sidebar of tips for successful ESP and a list of questions to evaluate the equality of a couple's current relationship.

I especially like her suggestion to observe which parent handles weeding out the too-small clothes from the kids' closets - oops, that's me almost 100% of the time. Perhaps it is time to bring that up for discussion with Marc....


Blogger mom said...

This raises a question -- do you have certain tasks that one person does versus tasks the other does? For example, I buy all the kids clothes, and my partner does the yardwork, gardening, etc. (yes, very gendered, I realize) Pretend you are the supreme Court of ESP Is separate but equal actually equal? Or is it a problem? What do you recommend?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your enthusiasm about my article in True North Parenting, Amy! At the risk of creating a "mutual admiration club", you really should know that your website has been so meaningful for Jim and I as we create our Equally Shared Parenting life. Even just having a name for this approach to parenting is just so handy. The Real Life Stories are useful and fun to read - and they provide a sort of support for the unique struggles and pleasures that choosing this lifestyle bring. I love reading your blog. The window you and Marc provide into your life is inspiring, helpful and feels authentic. I appreciate the support you are providing for us - and for others who aspire to this complex but extraordinarily lovely way of raising a family.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wow, the power of a supreme court justice, huh? If I had the gavel, I'd say that as long as the amount of time and mental investment is approximately similar between two parents in EACH of the four domains (breadwinning, housework, childraising and recreation/self), you've got true ESP. Therefore, if one of you does 100% of the yardwork and the other buys 100% of the kids clothes, but all-in-all you both spend the same amount of time on household chores, that would be fine.

We do caution that every time a task gets labeled as 100% one person's, this could be a red flag for others to be divided that way too. And the more tasks that are owned by only one person, the more separateness creeps in and you can't just leave for a week without instructing your spouse in necessary details.

In general, we strive to be at least able to cover for each other in those tasks the other tends to do most often. There is value in walking in each other's shoes, and in intentionally getting out of our comfort zones to take over for each other. For us, this builds team spirit and appreciation for each other's efforts. That said, dividing everything would suck the fun out of ESP, since it sets an impossible bar and we all have our favorite (and most hated) chores.

In our house, I do buy all the kids clothes too (I love to do this, Marc gets little joy out of it) but he knows their sizes and where to shop and I'm fairly certain he could handle it without much of a learning curve. It's one of those remaining frontiers of inequality for us.

Thanks! Complex and extraordinary it is!

8:57 PM  
Blogger mom said...

GREAT answer, Amy! Thanks.

9:19 AM  

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