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

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Child's Play

Our 7-year old daughter, M, came home from camp the other day and excitedly showed us a new hand-clapping game she'd learned. The lyrics started with:
It's as easy as 1-2-3
My mama takes care of me
My daddy watches MTV


We joined in her enthusiasm, and she taught us how to clap along. But later, we laughed together as a family about how those words don't make too much sense for us...how maybe 'my parents take care of me, sometimes we all watch TV' might work better.

It's a silly rhyme - not worth mentioning, right? In the grand scheme of ESP, probably not. But when our kids are subtlely buying into the idea that it's perfectly normal for moms to do all the caregiving and dads to tune out the family, we're setting up the next generation to unconsciously act out this age-old inequality (with both parents missing out on a lot of fun).


Anonymous Dennis said...

I don't see it having much of an influence on kids. I think they are much more affected by how they see their parents acting every day than what they hear in a silly rhyme.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm not so concerned about the kids from ESP families; you're absolutely right that their parents will model something far more powerful than words. I'm more curious/concerned about the kids from families where dad is NOT an active partner at home; these lyrics (whether they be at camp, in school jokes, in books, in movies) say 'that's normal and fine' and don't help kids see alternatives. Again, not a huge point by itself, but a very small example of how our culture sends messages that do get heard on an unconscious level.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Dennis said...

But again, those kids are going to be influenced much more by what they see at home. Even if they were bombarded by outside messages that dads should be more involved, what they see on a daily basis is going to have much more of an effect on them.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Amanda Shankle-Knowlton said...

I think your family handled it well by using it as a jumping off point for a conversation.

I've been thinking a lot about subtle messages - like in TV commercials where the father is a buffoon who doesn't know the first thing about taking care of a kid or where the mother happily cleans up after her husband and sons using a Bounty paper towel. No one instance of these subtle messages can influence our worldview, but watching hours and hours of TV and spending hours and hours with kids who have sexist assumptions about the duties of their parents, it really builds up.

As long as we converse with our own kids about it, we can undo quite a bit of these messages. But too bad we can't talk with everyone else's kids.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anne at www.equalcouples.com said...

Amanda makes a good point. There is a lot of evidence that shows that these "little" messages build up over time and impact the way people think and act, especially kids. This particular one is really insulting to fathers. It is worth mentioning and neutralizing at home. I think it is also worth mentioning to camp counselors or teachers with an explanation about why you find it troubling. We all need to educate each other.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks, all. I really believe these little things add up too. At least we should begin to question them, and even if we only catch 10% of the inequality examples that pervade our everyday lives, we'll be opening up our kids' eyes, and even our own.

As for that particular camp, we have finished our session and I'm pretty sure the hand clap game wasn't taught by the staff - just by some of the other kids to each other during lunch. But without being labeled (too often) as that crazy parent who complains about silly things, I still do like to flex my activism muscles from time to time!

7:38 PM  

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