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, October 19, 2010

ESP a Novelty? 40 Years Ago!

We often point out how difficult it is to draw broad conclusions on the success of ESP due to the fact that so little research has been done on the topic. We know it is a desired lifestyle by 80% of young women and 67% of young men, according to research done by Kathleen Gerson at NYU but the longitudinal studies of ESP don't exist just yet, or so we thought...

In the current paper version of Time Magazine (October 18, 2010) there is an article called Week-On, Week-Off Parenting. It looks at a study sponsored by the Norwegian government back in 1970 where 16 couples volunteered to participate in a "radically different model of work-life balance." "Some worked alternating days, and some worked alternating weeks." These couples were a unique subset of ESP where they actually shared one job. In addition, each parent was to share the roles of breadwinner, homemaker, and caretaker.

Now, more than 30 years after the experiment, University of Oslo researcher Margunn Bjornholt contacted 14 of the 16 couples to find out a few things:
  1. Was job-sharing, even temporarily, a smart move?
  2. How significantly did the years of part-time work set back their careers?
  3. How much did the arrangement affect their finances? Their children? Their marriages?

Here's what she found:

  1. "Many of the couples (9) continued to work part-time several years after the project concluded." (It sounds like the couples thought it was a smart move.)
  2. "Five years of part time work had not set the men's careers back irreparably."
  3. "Most of the work-share couples said they did catch up with their peers." "The [male children] identify with their fathers and seem to share an egalitarian attitude and also seem to perceive the sharing of domestic work as important."

This is all great news for couples pursuing ESP but my favorite lines from the piece describe the partnership that is the very foundation of an ESP life.

  1. "All the couples recalled the study as a time of low stress and greater quality of life, even though they didn't have much money."
  2. "Three of the couples ended up divorcing, but most said that the experiment strengthened their marriage."
  3. "It's very fundamental that both spouses have responsibility at home," one husband told Bjornholt. "This creates a basis for a shared experience and a shared understanding."

What a breath of fresh air! 40 years ago ESP was a pipe-dream, now it's a real dream, maybe tomorrow it will be a reality?


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