Last weekend The New York Times magazine published a rather long article on shared parenting entitled, “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, shared parenting is when both parents attempt to split child rearing responsibilities equally. In the piece, Lisa Belkin profiles several families in their efforts to skew traditional gender roles in favor for a more balanced approach to raising children and tackling household chores.
I can see the attraction to this parenting technique, at least in theory. When both parents work a compressed or alternative schedule, children get to spend more time with mom and dad - and mom and dad share equally in everything, from bath time to bedtime.
The biggest challenge of shared parenting, as explained by the article, is the tendency to fall into traditional gender rolls due to societal pressures or simple preferences. She buys the birthday gifts and sends the thank-you cards because he doesn’t see the need and she doesn’t want to be perceived as rude. He prefers mowing the lawn and she prefers shopping for the kids’ clothes - does that mean that they aren’t sharing responsibilities equally?
The most interesting section of Belkin’s piece pertained to the research on lesbian couples. It appears that there are discrepancies between the maternal parent and what is called the “co-parent” (non-maternal parent) in female homosexuals when children are infants and still nursing - but as offspring grow and separate from the breast, lesbian couples seem to split household and child-rearing duties fairly equally - without any regard to the gender role patterns heterosexual couples tend to fall into over time. This makes perfect sense, of course, because both parents are women.
Here are a few questions for all of you parents out there:
- Do you feel like you and your partner share equally in the household and child-related tasks?
- How do single parents and stay-at-home parents feel about this approach?
- Why do you think that couples who make an honest attempt at equal parenting tend to fall into traditional gender roles?
As someone who is still undecided about whether or not to become a parent, I look forward to your comments!Stumble it!