June 12, 2008

Sheesh, How About We Share Reading This Insanely Long NYT Article On Shared Parenting?

I think any parent who's juggling kid, work, and family responsibilities will say the same thing when they see this weekend's NY Times Magazine cover story, When Mom and Dad Share It All: Day-um, when am I going to read that?

I just skimmed through it, and it looks fascinating and potentially important, and it looks like the writer Lisa Belkin finally took pains to get beyond the "go to an Ivy League school, marry a banker, quit my job and get a nanny" mom-centric bubble she wrote about in the "Opt Out Revolution."

Two things that jump out: since before they started measuring such things, men have always done half as much "housework" and an even smaller fraction of "childcare," and that's still the case for "modern" parents. And if you want to get the shared parenting thing right, ask the lesbian moms, because they're farther along than anyone else.

Oh, and this, about the importance of context in making shared parenting decisions: "the single-most-predictive factor of how equal a couple will be, Deutsch says, is how equal their friends are."

What else is worth noting? Take a look, and put it in the comments. And soon, maybe we'll have a list of factoids and personal takes that's longer than the original article.

When Mom and Dad Share It All [nyt mag]

Previous Belkiniads:
2006: Don't harsh on my Opt-Out Revolution!
2004: a looong story on a family fighting for their special needs kid's education
2003: The original Opt Out Revolution article


Um yeah...it's pretty long, uh 10 pages? I skimmed it a bit and I'll read it again later.

I guess, well my take on this is on the willingness of each parent to take part in parenting. Anyway, my husband and I juggle our time in doing that. Whoever is free is the one who'll take care of the baby.

I don't tell him he should do this or do that. I think that'll turn him off.

Anyway, I saw a link to equally shared parenting. Gotta look it up too.

My wife and I do shared parenting, but that article lost me after the first page. I wish it spent time up front discussing the dynamics of having two primary care providers.

With our first child, when my wife returned to work, I got "the list," and accepted it as good advice. Things got more interesting when Mom realized Dad didn't need her advice on everything and was doing quite well on his own.

We have different approaches and there was quite an urge to feel her way was best when in fact my way achieved the same outcome.

Now with a 4-year-old, things are ever so much more complex. Our ground rule is to never overrule the other parent's decision or disagree with it in front of our daughter.

Our daughter gets a good balance in parenting approaches, not overly protective or restrictive or coddling or harsh or whatever you might get with a single primary care provider stuck in one way of thinking.

From where I'm sitting, I think the most interesting part is how she presents this as a "choice". At my house, and I think in a lot of middle and lower-middle class households its not a choice so much as an economic necessity. I know a ton of families where mom is home during the day and then works at night, when dad is home. Or where mom and dad can each only find part time work, and so try to juggle schedules and responsibilities in part because daycare would break the budget and there is no willing grandparent or neighbor to watch the child.

I'd be very, very interested to know what the economic strata of the families studied for the 2 to 1 ratio would be. On one hand, lower income families might drive the care-by-mom numbers up, because (in theory) less education would equal less "enlightened" ideas about gender roles. On the other hand, though, in lower income families generally its often the woman who is better equipped to get a higher paying job (better education and/or better service-oriented skills, plus a continued bias toward women filling white collar office-support type jobs), which leaves dad staying home with the kids.

Nowhere in that article is health insurance mentioned. The main reason that my wife and I can not share care for our daughter equally is that one of us has to get health insurance for all of us. My wife is a therapist and can have a reasonably flexible schedule, but not with health care. I have a reasonably flexible schedule in terms of when I get to work and when I leave, but I still have to go in the morning and come home in the evening 5 days a week. If we could both work 3 day a week and get health coverage, we would do that as we did in past when we were really only responsible for ourselves.

So that NYT article ended up reading like some kind of speculative fiction where no one mentions the elephant in the room, and then elephant is health care.

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