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, July 31, 2009

Careful What You Wish For

That's the warning sent out to men by Sasha Brown-Worsham on Babble a couple of weeks ago. She is speaking to any man who says he would like the opportunity to swap places with his stay-at-home wife. As it turns out, her husband gets laid-off and they get to experience a partial role reversal for 5 weeks. The article covers much of the expected struggles that he faces and does a great job highlighting some of the more difficult aspects of parenting young children.

The author's husband was a motivated father who wanted to be home and to succeed. He brought creativity and energy to the experience but he never got to the same level of competence as his wife. Maybe this was because she remained so available to rescue him.

Regardless, the article does a tremendous job framing up some of the challenges of traditional arrangements, namely, that specializing in either childraising or breadwinning leaves a lot of potential joy on the table from the minimized domain.

As commenters weighed in on the piece it struck me that nobody even referred to my favorite line, which happened to be the last sentence, "And somehow amidst this terrifying economic crisis we have been given a gift we never would have received otherwise: true equality."

Hopefully, other couples given this opportunity will be inspired to reach for this kind of lifestyle beyond the trial period. It's possible, sustainable, and worth the effort.

1 Comments:

Blogger Benjamin Rosenbaum said...

Maybe this was because she remained so available to rescue him.

Or because building the relevant competencies takes a lot longer than five weeks! Over the past 8 years, my wife and I have gone back and forth between my being the full-time breadwinner and her mostly-stay-at-home -- when the financial and employment constraints demanded it -- to being very close to 50/50. For the past two years we've each worked three days a week, and each been alone-on-duty parents two days a week (with one "babysitter day"); before that, I had been full-time for three years or so.

Making the transition from full-time work and backup parenting, to being the primary parent part of the week, required a lot of adjustments even though I'd done it before when the kids were younger.

I had to relearn techniques and skills and rediscover new age-appropriate ones; parenting well and happily is a complex job. (I'm a computer programmer in my three work days; that job is easier.) And I couldn't just carbon-copy my wife's way of doing things, because we parent differently. To become completely secure as the primary parent was a matter of months, not weeks.

1:23 AM  

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