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

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Score and Win?

Working Mother magazine has a new online 'test' that allows you to compare how much housework you are doing with how much your lazy...I mean, sweet...husband does. In Cosmo style, you're invited to add up your points on such tasks as:

Tossing the two-week-old takeout from the refrigerator. 1 point
Scooping up scattered toys. 2 points
Washing the funk out of a sippy cup you found in the backseat. 5 points
Scouring splattered tomatoes sauce off the stove. 2 points
Walking the dog. 1 point
Walking the dog in the snow. 5 points

And so on. Then, you're invited to tally your score against that of your spouse and the veil is lifted. Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!
Now isn't this just what we don't want to do if we're aiming for equally shared parenting? Who actually "wins" when one partner proves she's doing more? This kind of scorekeeping may serve to shed some light on a problem that both spouses already know deep (or not so deep) down, but it sure doesn't set the tone for solving it. Besides being a cute, far-from-validated test of unequal household labor, it takes a partner-based lifestyle like ESP and turns it into a he said/she said contest. Blech.

The rest of the article that contains this test is actually pretty good. It enlists the help of our beloved mentor, Francine Deutsch, who points out that couples should aim for equal time spent doing chores rather than picky individual chore division by so-called expertise. Dr. Deutsch also advises skipping old gender assumptions when choosing chores, approaching the issue with a spirit of cooperation rather than fighting, pointing out the benefits to your spouse of equal housework, not micromanaging his involvement, and meeting together to evaluate how things are going to tweak them over time. Amen to all of this.

p.s. One more nagging thought. Granted, the average person might consider walking the dog in the snow to be more onerous than doing so on a beautiful summer day. But is the weather really the sole determinant of our ability to approach a task with joy? I can imagine someone (not necessarily cat-loving me) who might actually like strolling down a quiet, snow packed street with his dog. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Time is the only impartial measure of dividing chores. Go ahead and make the best of your own to-do list.


Anonymous Anne www.equalcouples.com said...

I agree this is pretty awful and misses the whole point of sharing. Still the list brings to conscious awareness some tasks, like cleaning the funk out of the sippy cup in the back seat, that might have slipped through the let's-share-it-all radar. I suspect in some families that sippy cup is more likely to be picked up and cleaned by the mother than the father, just because....well just because some of us have learned to see some things and not others and we've never thought about it. Some of this old gender training runs deep, in spite of our best intentions.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I'm with you - when women are so used to seeing the small things, men don't really ever have to develop those 'muscles.' And so often neither parent notices the imbalance nor appreciates that all the little things count too.

7:35 PM  
Blogger sauce said...

Adding to 'time' as a good factor, it would be nice if we would allow each other also some small pleasures. Let the other pick something they like better from time to time. If Dad likes to cook, wonderful, even if that is a task that I don't dislike either.

2:45 PM  

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