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.
Manhattan ESP couple Annie and John Feighery, who are featured in our book (if you've read it, you'll recognize them as the ones who gave up John's astronaut track career at NASA for a life of equal parenting with their three children and balance as Columbia graduate students - and count their blessings every day)
Lisa Belkin, New York Times reporter and author of its Motherlode blog...and of course our book's Foreword writer and the author of the New York Times Magazine article that got the whole world talking about ESP.
We are so excited to spend an evening in the company of two of our dear mentors and with our inspiring friends John and Annie (one of the very best parts of writing our book was meeting wonderful ESP couples) - and hopefully YOU!
The 92Y event will be at 7:00pm on Thursday May 27th. Tickets are required ($12); directions and details can be found here.
Filmmaker Dana Glazer's documentary on fatherhood will soon be released - officially on May 18, 2010 but copies will be available for pre-order on May 1st. We can't wait to see this film. A trailer and a sneak peak of the first four minutes are now posted. Check them out (you might see us and the kids a few times in the trailer if you look carefully):
Ever heard of 'Two in a Box'? It's a corporate management structure created within Cognizant, an IT services provider, and now embraced at least in part by other companies such as Dell...and it's a lot like equally shared parenting for the business world.
The basic premise of Two in a Box is that a division or group or department or even a project is coordinated equally by two managers. Two heads that can think more clearly, come up with better ideas, and reach out more thoroughly to outside clients and internal customers. Two management styles that dilute out individual neuroses, hopefully making employees who report to their two bosses happier (or at least offering them respite from a singular bad boss-employee match). Two people who must lead by a team approach, making joint decisions and setting joint standards and expectations. No one person gets all the credit or takes all the blame; both can cover each other to end up providing far more than full time service or to prevent project down-time during vacations or personal emergencies. And you end up with a good shot at work/life balance for the boss!
For the past 12 or so years, I've had the extreme good fortune to have a Two in the Box job. And it has been fantastic. I make it a point not to blog about my workplace in any specifics here, but I will sing a few praises now. I co-manage the clinical pharmacy program at my job (a large multi-site medical practice) with my work partner, Marianne - each working about 30 hours per week and balancing work with time for our kids, partners, and outside lives. Together, we supervise 7 (soon to be 8) clinical pharmacists and run several committees and many projects. We have different management styles - I'm more of the daily operations person and she is more of the big picture/special assignments person. I'm forever making lists of tasks to be done - a classic project manager type. Marianne is forever pushing the envelope, setting the boundaries, framing the goals. Together - she and I agree wholeheartedly - we are far, far better at running the show than either of us alone would ever be.
In Marianne, I've got the perfect equally sharing worker. Neither of us is after career fame and glory, but both of us are deeply dedicated to our program and our employees. And we pinch-hit for each other all the time - during our vacations, kid-care situations, early morning or late night meeting requirements, etc. Sure, it takes a bit more communication to make Two in a Box successful, but just like with ESP, that dance of communication becomes automatic in pretty short order. And I appreciate what she does, and she appreciates my work, because we walk in each other's shoes.
I know that, again just like ESP, Two in a Box management is still rare. On the surface, it sounds inefficient and expensive, doesn't it? Why hire two people when you can get the work from one? Won't this just cause both people to be mediocre managers since neither can step over the other in the race for the top? Won't they spend all their time bickering about whose turn it is to sign the timesheets? This sounds familiar, right? These are the same arguments that naysayers spout about ESP. But the truth, at least from my experience (and also from Cognizant's and Dell's) is quite the opposite. Just like ESP.
Chalk one up for the establishment. Babble, the online magazine that had previously billed itself as a hip resource for both parents, has changed its tag line to the humdrum, typical "for a new generation of moms." The only problem is, if we really want the "new generation" of moms to be any different than their older counterparts, we're going to have to start embracing the Other Parent. Too bad Babble thinks this moms-only change is a smart business move - undoubtedly designed to drive up female traffic. Yet, stats say that 80% of the new generation of women want equal partners. So why the step back to segregation?
Over at the always-spot-on True/Slant Work.Life blog, Astri von Arbin Ahlander wonders the same thing. Asked to co-coordinate a work/life conference for women, she muses about why these things keep getting booked as single-gender events. Women can't keep shutting men out of these issues and expect to make real progress - whether they're talking about parenting or balancing careers. It's kind of like trying to clap with only one hand.
I really hate to see a good online parenting resource become yet another chirpy mom-o-sphere. Don't we have enough web destinations for mom-bonding already? Maybe it's true that dads don't want to read about parenting on their computers - they'd rather just do it. Nonetheless, today we mourn one step back for Parenting-kind, but there are many more steps ahead to a better future.
Update: I'm happy to report that Babble has seen the light - the tag line now says 'parents' rather than 'moms'! Thanks, Babble, for getting yourself back on the only sustainable path for progress. But not so fast with a full compliment - the sidebar on Babble currently reads "A mom must. Get the Daily Babble." Let's see...will this change to "A dad must" tomorrow? Next week? We don't need every word to be gender neutral, of course - just going for an overall gender equal tone.
Hello, ESP friends! Our blog hosting site, Blogger.com, has made changes that required us to revise some of our settings. This means simply that our Equality Blog page is now officially located at http://blog.equallysharedparenting.com/.
For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to http://blog.equallysharedparenting.com/feeds/posts/default.
And in the next few days, we'll be combing our whole site to fix any broken links resulting from the change. Thanks for your patience....
We'll be doing a book event at the independent bookstore Books on the Square in Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday April 24th at 2:00p.m. Joining us will be Providence couple Judy Kaye and Bruce Phillips, who are the "Judy and Bruce" featured in Chapter 8 of our book. This is the Money chapter, by the way, and Bruce and Judy are a fantastic example of an ESP couple who gladly traded maximal salaries for balanced lives with plenty of time with their three children.
Think you can't afford an equal partnership and balanced lives? Come see us, and hear Judy and Bruce's compelling story, on April 24th!
David Brooks had an interesting op ed in the New York Times last week entitled "The Sandra Bullock Trade." It starts out as a description of how the actress has experienced what many would consider one of life's ultimate career highs (winning an Academy Award) and one of life's pretty awful lows (finding out your husband is cheating in a big way) in a very short span of time. But the column isn't really about Ms. Bullock - she's just the hook to get readers to take notice. It's about what brings the most happiness - a stellar career or a stellar partnership.
Anyone care to guess?
Surely you answered correctly that it is a great partnership that brings far more overall happiness. As Brooks says, "Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn't matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn't matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled."
Yet, in our culture, even though we may know better, we're primed to pick the career time and again. This is true not only in fairly obvious ways, such as typical male choosing a job with an enormous commute or tons of travel when he's got young children or a wife he won't see much as a result (but, by God, he'll have a crack at that Global Vice President position), but also in much, much more subtle ways. For example, couples choose who stays home and who works primarily by who has the career or job that stands to net the biggest paycheck. Or we simply pick our careers by their salary prowess or their "importance" (which can then bring better and better opportunities with bigger pay down the road).
Brooks addresses this. He says: "...most of us pay attention to the wrong things. Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives." No matter if a family nets $50,000/year or $500,000/year, most people often still make important decisions by the compass of money. And collectively, we so rarely choose a lower paying road that brings us more time for our relationships instead. ESP and other simple living lifestyles turn this around - now we can choose to mostly make decisions based on relationship nurturing (happily and knowingly), and only secondarily based on money.
Brooks also tells us: "People aren't happiest during the years when they are winning the most promotions. Instead, people are happy in their 20's, dip in middle age and then, on average, hit peak happiness just after retirement at age 65." It sure seems that, if we assume that most people work at least full time (and probably far more) in those dip years, maybe we could even out this life curve if we evened out the career piece. I'm not saying we have full evidence here, but it sure works that way for me. I'd much rather work a longer career with enough hours to have time for all the other pieces of life that matter - not least of which is my relationship with Marc - than retire early yet miss out on something far more precious that I can't get back.
Yesterday, anhistoricforum took place at the White House to address the issue of work-life balance, and specifically job flexibility. Many experts and business owners with experience in offering various types of work flexibility with good results (higher productivity and employee retention, lower overall costs, less energy expenditure) were on hand to listen and share. Michelle Obama kicked off the forum, and Barack was there to deliver one of my favorite lines of all: "Workplace flexibility isn't just a women's issue. It's an issue that affects the well-being of our families and the success of our businesses."
The Obamas seem genuinely devoted to bringing our business model out of antiquity, and making it capable of meeting families where they need to be - able to balance paid work with caring for the next (and the previous) generation of Americans. They didn't make any decisions today, but they sparked what I hope will be a flame that doesn't die out.
And the best part, well - ESP-wise, is that almost everything I've read about the discussion is gender neutral. Parents need change - not just mothers. Or as Barack said: "Ultimately, it reflects our priorities as a society -- our belief that no matter what each of us does for a living, caring for our loved ones and raising the next generation is the single most important job that we have. I think it's time we started making that job a little easier for folks." I'd just add that everyone - regardless of their parenting or married status - deserves a decent shot at a balanced life.