Equally Shared Parenting - Half the Work ... All the Fun

ESP The Book

Excerpt from Introduction and Equality chapters:

    "Back when we were expecting our first child, the idea of becoming parents was both wonderful and frightening. On one hand, we were elated, amazed, and deeply grateful as we anticipated taking the plunge. But on the other, we each silently wondered, What have I done to my life?

    All around us, coworkers, friends, family members, and media pundits talking and writing about early parenthood were trumpeting the misery of this life-changing state. It seemed like every parent in the world was ready to testify that after a baby arrives, your own personal happy, fun, enjoyable, sane, and rested life was over. You'll be lucky to take a shower or do a load of laundry. Your greatest wish will be to sleep - and it won't be granted for eighteen years. You'll always want to be at home when you're at work and at work when you're home. And forget about ever going to the bathroom in peace again. Yes, most of these predictions spoke primarily to new mothers. But new fathers, too, seemed to be burdened with the responsibility to provide materially for their growing families, and missing out on much of the joy of parenthood. Experts further warned that a baby was a menace to your very relationship - destroying your sex life and your mutual happiness. This doomsday scenario made such an impression on us that we become determined to find a way to beat it. We vowed to sidestep what the world expected of new parents - bleary-eyed , short-tempered, lonely, and isolated.

    The strategy that came to us in small moments of clarity over the ensuing months was to share everything - the good and the bad - together. We would be peers in this great adventure, not just in the overall sense but in each significant area of parenthood - in caring for our baby, in handling the housework, and in bringing in the paychecks. We would also make sure we each had enough time for our own personal brands of fun, and time to be together. Our goal was to preserve ourselves while we made room for a baby - carving out enough from our former lives but not so much that either of us lost what matters most. We would share the burdens so nothing would consistently overwhelm either of us, and share the joys so that neither missed out on the experience of a deep connection with our child.

    As a generation, we often pat ourselves on the back for demonstrating far more equality than our own parents. Women are in the workforce in record numbers. Men are doing more childcare and housework than ever before. "Hooray!" say statisticians and business leaders and sociologists. Well, how about a "that's nice" instead? We are calling on all of us to reach for something even more exciting - the kind of equality that matters to individual couples and that digs down into their own relationship to make them both happy. We're suggesting that we compare each man's work, responsibility, and power only to those of his partner, not to those of his forebears. And that we compare each woman's contributions to the family only to her husband's.

    Equality in its full sense gives us authenticity - to live every day knowing we are doing our fair share of the work, we are responsible for the results, and we have the power to make it all happen. It can also lead us to extraordinary intimacy with our partners - as full equals in each domain. We want the best for each other, far beyond the tedious he said/she said of equal task division, and we get the best in return."

In this book you will learn that there is only one requirement to make equally shared parenting work (hint: it isn't more money, similar housework standards, identical ideas about how to raise children, specific insurance or parental leave benefits at work, a maid, or a grandmother living next door).  You will also learn how to take concrete steps to:

  • Make room for men to share equally in the work and responsibility of raising children.
  • Achieve equal competency - your own way - in how to raise your kids and tackle the laundry.
  • Decide how you will share specific parenting and housework tasks, and easily communicate with each other what is needed every day.
  • Let go of the notion that being stressed and over-busy is virtuous or normal.
  • Make both of your careers equally important regardless of social expectations or paycheck differential.
  • Get a "yes" from your boss to the work schedule that works for you and your family.
  • Sidestep the classic traps that keep women angry at their partners' level of housework contributions.
  • Take responsibility for your own free time and coordinate this with your partner's.
  • Crush the guilt that often comes with taking time for your personal fun.
  • Calculate what your ideal life might cost (or save!) your family.
  • Circumvent social pressures such as mom-centricity at the playground, dating rituals, or dad-as-mom's-helper language that keep women and men in traditional, unequal relationships.
  • Own equally shared parenting even when disaster strikes - you lose your job, your daycare closes, or even when your kids only want mom to tuck them in bed.

Click below to learn more about Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents:

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