Equal parenting – the idea that Mom and Dad are equal participants in raising the kids together, and share responsibility for not only big decisions but little things like packing the diaper bag – often sounds like a dream to busy moms and a nightmare to their equally busy husbands.
But diving into equally shared parenting can make life better for every member of the family. Including the dad who finds himself picking up half the diaper duty.
The relationship site YourTango ran a sweet love letter today from a dad thanking his wife for pushing him into an equal share of the parenting.
The couple lives in Sweden, where they both work part-time and share care for their children. Sweden is culturally much more geared to this arrangement than the US. They offer long paternity leaves and flexible hours for parents.
But these folks started out in the New York suburbs, and the lessons apply no matter what side of the pond you’re on. As this dad says, it’s not only about expecting more from your mate. It’s also about letting go of some of your own authority in the home.
I would never have come to this place without you, without your belief in co-parenting, without you teaching me how to do things like pack the snack bag, and without your willingness to take a step back. And that is perhaps the hardest thing of all with one’s own kids, isn’t it?
A lot of modern dads are more than willing to “help” around the house and with the kids. Far fewer are willing to step up and drive the parenting bus along with their wives. Often, when they try, they complain of feeling blocked by women who hover over them criticizing their every move.
A good friend of mine likes to say that you can tell someone what to do or how to do it, but not both.
I resonate a lot with this letter. Equal parenting is an ideal my husband and I have shared since before we had kids, but only recently begun to put into practice.
To get close to equally shared parenting in my home, I had to take a huge step backwards and let my husband make his own parenting mistakes. When he puts the kids to bed I don’t criticize him for keeping them up late. When he takes them out I don’t check the contents of their day bag to be sure he has the right snacks and spare clothes.
My husband’s a better father for it, and I’m a better mom when I get the opportunity to stand back and just genuinely enjoy my kids, without being responsible for their every waking moment.
Photo: Ed Yourdon