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

Friday, March 06, 2009

Supergirls, Meet ESP

Today, we have the pleasure of being the landing place for Liz Funk's Supergirls Speak Out blog tour! This new book, subtitled 'Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls,' is a fascinating look at young women who turn themselves inside out to be perfect at everything - their looks, their grades, their extracurricular resumes, their social status.

What does this have to do with equally shared parenting? A lot, if you think about how the things we tell ourselves as we're growing up shape the lives we find ourselves leading as parents later on.

Liz's book follows five girls who are driven to success, and includes information from almost 100 more. It tells us that, although these girls make perfection look effortless, they often trade their souls to do so. And lose themselves along the way. If they could slow down and stop doing what they feel the world expects of them, they would have a hard time answering the question, 'Who am I?'

We asked Liz a few questions to get her thoughts....

ESP.com: What happens to a Supergirl when she marries and has children?

Liz: You know, I think it all totally varies depending on each woman. I observed a lot of Supergirls who tended to date guys who were less ambitious than they were and they were sort of the powerful ones in the relationship, career-wise, and I observed some Supergirls who were attracted to equally ambitious guys. It all depends. I think what happens when a Supergirl goes to have kids depends on whether she's confronted her Supergirl self. If a woman has had an overachieving-related breakdown, usually she changes her ways and adjusts her approach to life, which would compel a woman to try not to be an alphamom. But I think these moms who we hear about in the media, who make homemade decorated cupcakes for bake sales and homemade Halloween costumes are Supergirls all-grown-up, who busy themselves to the point of exhaustion to feel like they are valuable.

ESP.com: How do Supergirls feel about our culture's gender roles? Do they seek to bust them up or do they follow them because this is what they think is expected of them?

Liz: One of the ironies that I encountered over and over again as I researched this book was how young women who were intellectually conscious of the pressures on women in society still weren't immune to these pressures. Lots of girls I spoke with identified with feminist beliefs, but didn't have much in the way of suggestions to ameliorate the high demands on women in our sexist society.

ESP.com: How difficult would it be for a Supergirl to create a relationship with her husband based on true equality and balanced lives?

Liz: I think that if Supergirls would be open to having an equally shared parenting lifestyle, they'd probably find that it would be much more fulfilling than trying to singlehandedly do everything! I think it would be great for them, actually! So perhaps the key is that today's parents need to adopt ESP so today's girls see a healthy, egalitarian model of parenting.

ESP.com: What is your overall prognosis for a Supergirl to have a happy life?

Liz: I think that realizing one's intrinsic worth is the most important thing in the world. So many Supergirls don't have a sense of why they matter outside of what they look like and how others perceive them, but having a positive, loving relationship with themselves and having a sense of identity could save them! It all goes back to self-esteem and liking what you hear when you listen to your thoughts.

It's Amy again. Talking with Liz made me think about how important it is for all parents (all people, actually) to watch out that they don't begin to live a role rather than a life. ESP is about being a real person in partnership with another, rather than garnering our identities from the roles we take on. I hope seeing an ESP relationship in action can be a useful model for our daughters so that they live their best lives - not the lives they think others expect of them.

Thanks, Liz, for sharing your wisdom, and we hope your book reaches the many girls who need to hear your hopeful message.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always chosen to overachieve in the areas that are important to me and not worry about the rest. The result is that my husband is the one that cleans our house, because I do a horrible job when I do end up doing it for some reason. Cleaning is just not where I want to focus my life!

3:07 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Your way sound much more sane than the perfectionism that Supergirls get caught up in - and a good middle ground for them to fall into if they can extract themselves from trying to do it all. How nice that your husband, or any husband, has an area of homelife in which he can take the lead! Thanks for writing. -Amy

7:42 PM  

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