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

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

We're All Equal

We speak often about how ESP parents are equal partners. But really, aren't all parents who raise their kids together considered equals? Of course they are. We all are. A traditional breadwinner father is dedicated to supporting his kids, providing money for the lifestyle he feels will be best for his family while his stay-at-home wife handles the homefront. Certainly these are two equal individuals, both playing vital roles in raising their kids - they just happen to be using the 'divide and conquer' strategy. We certainly want to promote the truth that nurturing children is equally important to any career!

So what's the deal with 'equality' and 'equally shared parenting' then? When a couple chooses ESP rather than a traditional (or semi-traditional) family arrangement, they are making the decision to equally share each domain or sphere of their lives. They aim for about equal time spent on breadwinning, with neither having the more important career. They each spend about the same amount of taking care of the home, with neither directing or reminding the other of what needs to be done. They each enjoy about the same amount of 'solo parenting' time, with neither acting as the primary parent. And they each spend about the same amount of time on recreational (non-child related) activities - time for self, hobbies, friends, etc.

ESP is a relationship model. Equality, on the other hand, is a judgment. In choosing between ESP or any other family model, there is no right or wrong. We're all equally worthy as parents and humans. ESP is just the way that some of us choose to structure our lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan, but I don't know if I agree fully. While I appreciate the effort to let people know that you don't judge those who choose other practices, are all choices truly equivalent/worthy? At some tipping point doesn't inequality become problematic? Interfere with parenting? Interfere with the health of the family? Interfere with the quality of life of the participants?

This post gave me pause -- hmmm.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

We cannot judge our neighbors' choices. I agree that, for us, any arrangement short of ESP is the wrong one - it would indeed interfere with the health of our marriage and the quality of our lives. But we can't say that to the couple who have chosen differently and feel at peace with their arrangement. Their lives may be out of balance by our definition, but they may value something else even more than balance. And although they themselves may not consider their marriage to be one of equals, we'd like to think that both partners in any situation are indeed equal humans. Traditional parenting lifestyles deserve equal consideration - just as we're fighting for ESP to be considered a full-fledged parenting lifestyle choice.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a tough one - i had the same reaction as anonymous above. I appreciate your response, Amy, but I'm not sure that most (even many) of those who employ the 'divide and conquer" strategy are even aware that this is actually a decision. This is just how it works - even when mom works her own 40 hour week. Sure, women have cut back on housework over the last several decades (now they're only doing 20 or so hours a week on average) and men have increased theirs (now they do 9-10 hours a week), but this doesn't strike me as very equitable - particularly when on average men spend more time at childcare (almost always more fun that cleaning the toilet). Don't get me wrong - I'm not criticizing individual men - but the way our society is structured - to be a real man is not to clean the toilet, take your daughter to by capris or buy window treatments - even if these are the things you enjoy! grrrrr...

6:48 AM  

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