As a society, we’ve started moving away from the notion that mothers should take the lead with child-rearing. Although we are growing, it’s important to assess if we as a society have made it to true equitable parenting?
Domestic duties are pretty split in my household. However, when it comes down to things like making doctor’s appointments, planning logistics for birthday parties, making sure that our kid has clothing that is appropriate for the weather and can actually fit, planning play dates, and making sure that we are fostering developmental milestones, the work falls on only one of us. While the physical load is often shared, there is a disproportionate distribution of the mental and logistical aspects of parenting.
I’m sure we are not alone in this. Friends have expressed that one parent has generally and unintentionally assumed the role of the “House Manager.” The role of the “house manager,” generally is to assess the various tasks that need to occur and delegating who does what. There’s no stipend that comes along with this job. In fact, some people don’t even acknowledge that it’s even a thing in their partnership – even when it is.
This made me assess the systems that are in place in my household, and how we could make some shifts to make sure that equitable parenting was occurring. It is rather encouraging that we are moving in the direction of truly equitable parenting, but there is work to do.
Ways to Advance Toward True Equitable Parenting
#1: Put an end to “Specializing” Tasks
As humans, sometimes if we feel that our partner can’t do a job as well as we can we either micromanage them or we rob them of the opportunity to even try. Everyone has their own nuanced ways of completing tasks. Before we can move into equally distributing the mental and logistical loads of parenting, we need to talk about trust.
Micromanaging or assuming all domestic responsibilities without seeking help is generally a reflection of how we don’t trust our partner to do a particular job. In doing this, we don’t utilize each other’s strengths and openly discuss each other’s limitations. In order to increase trust between partners, true transparency and communication must occur.
As granular as it may seem, talking about your lack of trust in your partner can make an impact on whether or not you all are engaging in true, equitable parenting. When discussing how trust impacts your parenting, keep the “why this matters” at the forefront of the discussion.
#2: Put an end to the “House Manager” role
If the goal is to engage in equitable parenting, one of you has to let go of the “power.” I say “power” as in, it’s not power at all, but rather more of a ball-and-chain situation. Sure you could keep on being a house manager and stuff will get done, but at what cost? What’s the true, long-term impact if one parent is doing more of the heavy lifting? They are most likely more apt to being stressed, exhausted and overworked. They may even start to become resentful for taking on most of the load.
Instead, come together and develop an itemized list of things that need to be handled. After building a list, delegate who is responsible for which task by what date. Schedule regular check-ins to make sure that each partner is fulfilling their role(s) as was outlined together. Keep in mind that communication should be a the forefront of your work together as partners and co-parents.
#3: Put Systems in Place to Truly Co-parent
My friend, Renee, and her husband, Michael are #goals when it comes to systems that support equitable parenting. They utilize a shared Google calendar for everything such as their daughter’s appointments and even their own personal time. There are so many great resources online for creating a home management system that can be shared equally amongst partners. Renee and her husband also use a Wunderlist for all household items. If one goes to the store, it is that person’s responsibility to pick up what’s on the Wunderlist.
True equitable parenting can be achievable if each partner commits to working with one another in both the physical and mental aspects of parenting. It’s not only an act of love between one another and between you and your children, but it’s simply responsible. Let’s show up for our little ones and partners in more ways than one.