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

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Feminism and the Immersed Parent

What a joy to read a recent post by Backpacking Dad called Feminism and the Immersed Parent. He cleverly argues that women who continue to perpetuate either the myth, or reality, of their bumbling male partners actually do a disservice to the goals of feminism. I couldn't agree more! He utilizes an analogy of men ridiculing women in the workplace a couple of decades ago and how that behavior has uniformly been rejected by society to the point of being used as a grounds for determining a "hostile work environment." I would suggest that the effectiveness of this terrific analogy proves the persistence of gender inequality: men own the work domain and women own the home domain.

Obviously, culture plays a huge role in the behavior that we each consider daily despite our wishes to do otherwise. Women in the US without shaven legs do so intentionally regardless of the expectation and men don't tend to wear skirts partly due to similar expectations. However, being genderless doesn't necessarily "solve" the problem either. Many same-sex relationships can attest to that. If gender isn't the deciding factor for family decisions perhaps earning power, geography, interest, or expediency will be used instead. Without the unemotional framework of what equity might look like we are likely to miss the mark for any number of reasons.

Unlike the ESP model, Backpacking Dad doesn't continue to push equity down to the details of our lives but instead allows the intention of equity to suffice. "An immersed parent doesn't have to be the one doing the cooking or the cleaning, but will care that the child is receiving good nutrition and living in a clean environment. An immersed parent doesn't have to be the one singing lullabies at night, but cares that the child sleeps well. An immersed parent doesn't have to be the one to attend school board and PTA meetings, but cares about the quality of education the child receives."

Of course, these statements are mostly true. Sure each parent should be fully emotionally invested in his/her role as parent in all aspects. But if an "immersed parent" never cooks, cleans, sings lullabies OR attends PTA meetings, full equity has little chance of prospering. Time is the frontier feminism could embrace. Equivalent time pursuing a career, equal access to experience the wonder of childcare, sharing the responsibility for the home and jointly creating opportunities for rejuvenation.

I expect that there are quite a few men, and women, who could embrace that model.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sort of an unfortunate paragraph that I would have written differently in retrospect. The aspect I was trying to emphasize is that an Immersed Parent is not defined according to a checklist of duties, but according to a disposition to be involved. That didn't come across well at all though, and a few people have read that list as kind of a get-out-of-jail free card for people to slack off, not do any important work on the home front, but still carry around the label "Immersed". That couldn't be further from the intention I had when I was writing, and I think I was too interested in getting to the later argument than in really spelling out the details of Immersed Parenting as a concept.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

I absolutely believe you based on the tone and content of your excellent post. Keep up the good work. I look forward to following along.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Mummy and Child said...

Thank you for sharing such an interesting article. I really appreciate your efforts in writing such honest and informed article, thanks for sharing this. As a parenting and family coach, I am glad to come across this. Find answers of various questions from how to build empathy, and raising kids as entrepreneurs to Should kids get paid to do chores at mummyandchild.com.

6:24 PM  

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