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 08, 2010

Froggie ESP

Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog today covers a different kind of equally shared parenting - the kind practiced by the monogamous Peruvian poison frog. As Lisa says, "Your average [male] frog hops away after fertilizing a cluster of eggs, but the loyal poison frog stays close, then carries the newly hatched tadpoles on his back to small pools of water and plays stay-at-pond dad; the mother shows up mostly to lay unfertilized eggs for the babes to eat."

Well, that's not exactly ESP. It's more like reverse traditional. But stay with me.... The American Naturalist will publish a study next month that theorizes that this frog's monogamous, co-parenting behavior is directly linked to its relative poverty of resources. These particular frogs, it seems, inhabit extremely small pools (as in less than two tablespoonfuls of liquid each), while their bigger cousins frolic in the larger ponds. Because they have less to work with, the theory goes, they have to bond together to get the job of raising their kids done. The authors of the study then postulate that our own ancestors (e.g., pioneers) were more apt to share domestic chores simply because they were poor and had to work much harder for their basic food and shelter.

Very interesting. Perhaps a bit of truth here. After all, in troubling times we often get back to basics. We remember what is most important and are more grateful for the love of family and friends. We come together as a team of humans to batten the hatches and feed the children. When our safety is threatened, like after 9/11, we prioritize our relationships rather than superficial stuff. We find time for connecting with our kids rather than extra hours at work. We work things out rather than dig in our heels. And that's kinda what ESP is all about.

But I can't reconcile with the frog theory in full. That's because so many of the ESP couples we've come to know have built their lives purposefully around this type of sharing in spite of having more than enough money to have chosen the big pond. Yet they still rejected that ol' American dream for their own version - actually preferring the little "good enough" pond and all the freedom of time that comes with this decision.

On the other hand, I do love that our froggie friends can help dispel the myth that ESP is only for the upper class.



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