Equally Shared Parenting

Equally Shared Parenting

21st Century couples working hard to keep home; kid duties evenly split.

Call it a Mr. Mom backlash. For couples eschewing stereotypical division of household duties, sharing responsibility isn't about role reversal; it's about role sharing and thinking like teammates or co-pilots instead of gender-bending pioneers.

The New York Times Magazine's cover story this coming Sunday (already available online) profiles several families where designated "mom" and "dad" duties don't exist, at least not as society generally defines them.

In the Vachon household, for example, parents Marc and Amy both work jobs with flexibility so that childcare and housework is equally divided. The parent whose day it is at home with the kids cooks the evening meal. When Amy felt she was handling a greater share of the laundry, they set up a system: he washes darks, she washes lights.

While the creation of systems and schedules to enable equality seems to take a good amount of work, the goal is to save on problem-solving at a later date would either partner become discontent with his/her roles at home and in the marriage. The Vachons set up a web site, equallysharedparenting.com, for those interested in learning more about "optimizing life" by "scaling back on career," which is just one of the hurdles they've willingly jumped for their gender-equal, "ESP" lifestyle.

Amy voiced a personal challenge that I think many women, and certainly mothers, can relate to: not acting like the director of the household, and instead letting go and trusting Marc to do stereotypically mother tasks, like planning birthday parties or making Halloween costumes.

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Whether nature or nurture is responsible for Amy's urge to act as "CEO of the house," ESP and same-sex couples' abilities to take on mom, dad, wife and husband duties equally (and willingly) certainly score one for the nurture team.