This is a cross-post from Maureen Campion's Notes from a Marriage Geek Newsletter (which we highly recommend!). Maureen teaches a variety of classes, including "Parenting as Equals" on April 5 in our Community Room.
I want to talk about gender and equity and family balance and why kids think moms are better at pouring juice and why dads worry about paying for college and moms worry about broccoli. I want to talk about why all my progressive, feminist, enlightened friends end up with families that look a hell of a lot like Leave it Beaver. I want to talk about childcare costs and sick days and who calls the plumber. I want to talk about why it is so hard for me to make my own career a priority. I want to talk about what kids miss when most of their daily care is done by women--at school and at home.
I put “Parenting as Equals” on the calendar for at Peapods and have been pulling together all the amazing resources I have collected. And right now I have one (very enthusiastic) couple signed up. What did I get wrong? I know this is a topic you are struggling with, I hear it all the time. Is it too difficult? Too risky? Too big? Do you have unrealistic hopes that will be THAT warm spring day? Are you good for now, just figuring it is all out as you go along?
My goal is to have my classes take personal problems and give them a broad social context and offer researched based solutions, directions towards healthier, more sustainable relationships. Many people (lots of men) prefer them to therapy because they do not require talking about your own struggles, do not increase conflict and are very time limited.
I am well aware that about 75% of my readers are female and that men read my columns when their wives ask them to. We filter for them. Women read tons of books, articles, have conversations, watch Dr. Phil and then give the Readers Digest version of relationship education to their partners. I also know that men need, want, crave connection and love and equality just as women do. I know that they are not winning this family battle of the sexes.
In the strongest, most sustainable long term relationships, the care and nurturance of the relationship is managed and prioritized by both people. When one person does most of the care, takes most of the responsibility, that person both develops better skills and grows more resentful. These two things, increased relationship skills and being pissed off must have something to do with that stupid fight we all keep having that seems to be about housework and sex and money and time but is really about justice and balance and having everyone in our family feel secure and loved.
The class is $30/person, $50/couple. Shoot me an email to register.
If you’re not ready for a conversation yet, let me recommend a couple of great books.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
Equally Shared Parenting by Amy and Marc Vachon
Men Can Do It by Gideon Burrows
Anything else you think I should read? Please send it my way. I suspect this conversation is going to be a long one.