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, March 16, 2009

Equally Shared Breast-Feeding

Since there are so many ways to be equal partners, we don't often dive into the specifics of any one detail of parenting. We prefer to focus on the building blocks and philosophies behind creating an ESP lifestyle. However, in the recent flurry of news around breast-feeding we were honored to weigh in on the NY Times online column, Motherlode, as to how an ESP-minded couple might deal with the early days of feeding their children. You can check out our comments here.

Personally, we decided to feed both our children breast milk up until they were about 8 months old. Most of this was delivered via the breast while a consistent bottle per day allowed me to be involved as well. This was by no means a requirement, or even a substantial aid to creating our ESP lives, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I didn't love getting up in the middle of the night, as I'm sure very few people do, but I saw it as a small sacrifice to have access to the fundamental nurturing of our children.

I have no idea if spending that time in the early morning hours with my children paved the way for a closer relationship with them. I'd like to believe that all the moments in the last many years are more important than a few months of once-a-day feedings. However, I'm quite certain that my participation in those early days was beneficial for me. Nurturing was never my strong suit being a typical, logical male, but feeding an infant at 2:00 in the morning did wonders for getting me out of my head and into the game. Logic told me that I was providing nourishment to my child but I couldn't escape the fact that more was happening in those moments.

Owning my participation in those early days of childcare felt like the only way to honor my promise of partnership with Amy. I didn't marry her to solve the problem of "who would raise the kids" but rather to share an enjoyable life. For me, that meant embracing the challenges of sleep deprivation, gender expectations, and the resulting uncomfortable scenarios.

Yes, I wanted to participate.
No, I did not love it all the time.
Yes, I would do it all again.


Blogger Dichotomom said...

"However, I'm quite certain that my participation in those early days was beneficial for me."

Beneficial not only for you, Marc, but probably for Amy as well. As a mom who breastfed, those nights that my husband took over with a bottle and let me sleep through the 2 am feedings were precious. This was especially helpful once I was back at work. Of course, he didn't mind so much when the Red Sox were playing in October!!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Of course, I agree. It was better to have both of us semi-drowsy than either one of us wiped out. I can't claim the heroic husband label though as I viewed my role as partner instead of helper.

7:33 PM  
Blogger TheFeministBreeder said...

Thank you Marc, for this post, and for this blog. My husband and I practice ESP, though I never knew there was a name for it. We just call it parenting.

In our house, breastfeeding is both mine and my husband's responsibility. No, he cannot feed the child from his breast, but he can certainly do many other things that aid the process and relieve the overwhelming pressure from me.

For Example: when the baby wants to nurse at night, it is Husband's job to go get the baby and to put him back in his crib when we're done. If I have to be up feeding the boy, this is the least he could do.
Also, I'm a working and pumping mom, so it's Husband's job to make sure my bottles are cleaned and ready to go every morning, and to put the milk away when we get home. He's also responsible for setting my pump up every time I need to pump when I'm at home. Every night around 11 pm, he sets up the pump, then puts the milk away when I'm done. If I have to be responsible for creating food for our baby from my own body, then he can be responsible for the equipment involved.

These are the things that he can do to help and participate in the process. It helps him appreciate how much work it is to be the sole source of nutrition for your child (though my child is 10 months old now, and I'm not really the SOLE source anymore.)

It makes me sad when I see families where the husband is not sharing equally in all the parenting. It makes for a resentful mother (like Rosin obviously is) and doesn't set a very good example for the children.. in my opinion. The fact is, if I wanted to raise a baby on my own, I would do it in my own apartment without the Husband around to cramp my style. But I didn't sign up for Single Parenthood.

Anyway, keep up the good work!


10:25 AM  

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