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

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Preparing the Next Generation

We recently received a great letter from fellow ESP mom, Chandelle, with a story that she has graciously allowed us to share below. We found it to be a powerful example of how our society preps boys not to be equal parenting partners, and how we might be able to open their eyes to new possibilities. As ESP parents, I feel this is part of our duty - paying it forward, as they say - so that our own kids and their whole generation might find it just a little easier to create their own equal partnerships one day. Enjoy Chandelle's story, and let's all be in the lookout for those chances to teach a child!

Hi Amy and Marc,

I'm Chandelle and I've been following your work for many years now. I live in Northern California with my partner, Jeremy, who teaches at a Waldorf school, and our two kids, I. and W., who are 6 and 4. I discovered your parenting model very shortly after I. was born and immediately latched on to it as the philosophy that most closely matched my own instincts. As a feminist I felt very certain that it would be healthiest for our children to have equally involved, equally committed parents who were "whole people."

Truthfully, it's been a struggle to get to the point where I feel like we're sharing fairly equally. Financial problems, health problems, job loss -- all sorts of issues have cropped up to make this path difficult. But much has cleared up since our kids started school. I went back to school myself and now Jeremy and I spend fairly equal amounts of time with the kids and on various homemaking duties. I'm so happy with the progress we've made and I've been doing my part to spread the word about the benefits of ESP.

I wanted to share a discussion I had with one of Jeremy's 4th-grade students yesterday. He asked me if it's hard to be a mom. He said he'd just realized he'll never know what it's like.

So I said, "Yes, it's the hardest job in the world; you work 24 hours a day, every day, for the rest of your life, and nobody ever really thanks you for it, much less pays you for it, and sometimes it's just a lot of labor, like cleaning up poop and cooking pureed food, that isn't necessarily very fun. But we do it because nothing is more beautiful than your child. When our kids were little we would just about cry when they farted. That's how amazing they were to us."

We laughed about that a bit and then I said, "But you WILL know what it's like if you're a dad like Mr. B. [Jeremy]. Some people think that dads can't love their children as well as moms can, but when you watch Mr. B. with our kids, or [a few other dads in our community] with their kids, you can see it's not true. Not everyone can make it work, but I think it's pretty great if a kid has two parents with the same commitment to being around, keeping them happy and healthy."

And he said, "I guess I'd never thought of that, but I could be around just as much. I bet my kids would like that."

Of course my heart melted when he said that. What if it could be as easy as this, just opening a kid's mind to the possibility of being a constant nurturing presence in his child's life instead of a mostly-absent monetary provider? Of course it's not this easy, but just imagine how children would benefit if given a different picture of how parenting works, and how parents work together. I think it could be an amazing thing. I feel very grateful that our children are growing up with that different picture.

Thank you so much for the example you set and for fighting the good fight for ESP. Whenever possible I turn people on to your book and website and tell them that THIS is why our relationship seems so healthy and our kids are so happy and secure.

In gratitude,

Chandelle

25 Comments:

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I almost cried when I read that story but perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

What has the media and society been doing to the images of fathers that would shape a young childs mind to think his father (or any father) can't love their child as much as their mom

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