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, August 20, 2010

Why Persist with the Dream?

I'd like to pickup where the Chicago Tribune left off today in a fine piece on how the division of household labor hasn't changed much over the last century. Alexa Aguilar correctly points out that many of us want something different but often slip right back into the culturally gendered roles laid out for us instead. Her comparisons to ESP are right on the mark and she even references us as role models for this lifestyle.

However, I expect many readers may be asking, "why bother with any particular split of chores?" In fact, if the goal is to reach any particular percentage of work done by each spouse, the result is destined to fail. Worse still, if you're at X% and Y% and your goal is (X-1)% and (Y+1)% (using any measure you wish) there is a possibility for bean-counting, resentment, and frustration.

ESP is so much more than "who does what." Essentially all the couples we interviewed for our book are driven by the dream of a true partnership where each parent gets equal access to all the joys and responsibilities of raising a family. Not a single couple told us how proud they were to have reached a perfect split. These are real parents with messy lives just like the rest of us. We know things don't work this way. Who would want them to? Instead, they bask in the delight of walking in each others shoes on a daily basis. No need to get frustrated that our spouse doesn't understand the pressures of maintaining a viable career, no need to worry that our spouse might never feed the children if we weren't around, and no need to feel alone in our narrowly defined roles.

ESP holds out for Equality in the broader sense. Grab your partner's hand, shake off the gender expectations, and build the life of your dreams. No spreadsheets, scorecards, or tally marks needed. Sure, there will need to be some interesting discussions to make it happen but isn't that a requirement for any healthy relationship, regardless of the model chosen?


Blogger Angela V-C said...

I also like what she says about "much of what they advocate stems from simply being considerate of each other." I would say not just being considerate, but being considerate and having spent time walking in each other's shoes.

With my wife away for the weekend, I feel like we are both getting the perks of equally shared parenting -- she's getting to go off to a conference and enjoy being on her own without any guilt, and I'm getting to enjoy spending solo time with the kids without feeling frustrated and overburdened.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, pretty sobering statistics in that article. No wonder that study of a few months back showed that women are less happy and men are more happy than a few decades ago. Women are working double shifts and men are relieved of the provider burden but are not picking up the unpaid work.

I've got to believe these effects of inequality in the home are trickling down and hurting children. So glad you all wrote the book and at least got the ideas out there for those who are open to them.

10:04 PM  

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