How Working Parents Can Have It All


Sharon Meers, coathor of Getting to 50/50.
Topic:
How working parents can have it all.
Issues: Why two careers are better than one; busting myths about work, women, and men; how your husband solves the work-life riddle; success doesn’t require 24/7; what women gain from working motherhood.

Indigo Kids + Getting to 50-50


Maureen Dawn Healy, author of Energetic Keys to Indigo Kids.
Topic:
Raising and resonating with today’s new children
Issues: Recognizing “indigo” children (highly sensitive, hyperactive, creative, but defiant); harnessing and redirecting that special indigo energy; triggers that set off bad behavior; why punishment may make problems worse.


Sharon Meers, coathor of Getting to 50/50.
Topic:
How working parents can have it all.
Issues: Why two careers are better than one; busting myths about work, women, and men; how your husband solves the work-life riddle; success doesn’t require 24/7; what women gain from working motherhood.

Sharing Childearing

I’ve got a pretty flexible schedule at work and I’d really like to share the childcare equally with my wife. She seems so good at it, though, that I’m not sure I can ever catch up. Is there anything I can do to learn this parenting thing and feel like a competent dad?

Many of us-men as well as women-simply assume that women know more about kids than men. On average, women do spend more time taking care of children than men do, and their skills may be a little sharper than ours. But parenting skills are not innate-they’re learned on the job, through experience and training. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you’ll be able to have an active, involved relationships with your children.
[Read more...]

Does it matter whether you’re smiling while you change that diaper?

Great article by Tara Parker-Pope in the NY Times Magazine this week. It talks about whether women like childcare more than men. The answer, according to the researchers is, Yes.

But here’s my question: What the hell difference does it make whether you enjoy it or not?

Guys are doing more and more around the house—more than double what they were doing in 1985. The stats show that women are still spending twice as much time with the kids than men are. But those studies are notoriously flawed. They don’t take into account that men spend an average of 7 hours/week more than women commuting to and from work. They don’t count playing with the kids at “spending time” with them, and they usually don’t count the many other tasks men do in the general service of the family: plumbing, lawn mowing, dish washing, etc.
That said, the Times article raises some interesting points. Some excerpts:
“Researchers from the University of Virginia recently asked 181 academics with young children how much pleasure they experienced from various child-care tasks.”
“On 16 out of 25 child-care tasks — like changing diapers, taking a child to the doctor or getting up in the middle of a night to attend to a child — women reported statistically significant higher levels of enjoyment than men. The only parenting issue that gave women less pleasure than it gave men was having to manage who does what for the child. Over all, women’s scores were 10 percent higher than men’s.”
The whole article is here.
In addition, you can take the quiz yourself here.

Occupy Main Street—and the Kitchen

Dear Mr. Dad: A few months ago you answered a question from a reader whose teenager was refusing to do chores. My situation is similar, except that it’s my husband who won’t lift a finger. We both work full time, but when I come home, I usually start making dinner and getting the kids going on their homework. When my husband comes home, he plops himself down in the living room and reads the newspaper or watches TV. Fortunately, the kids set the table and clean up after meals, because my husband disappears right after dinner and goes off to check his email while I put in a load of laundry. I’m worried that my children—one boy, one girl—are going to get the wrong idea about gender roles and what a marriage is supposed to be like. How can I curb my DH’s laziness?

A: My initial thought is that a cattle prod would be an excellent investment. But that wouldn’t clear up your children’s confusion about marriage and division of labor issues.

You didn’t say anything about whether you and your husband have talked about this, but either way, that’s a critical second step. Your first step is to put together a comprehensive list of everything you, your husband, and your kids are doing for the family and how long each task takes. If he has a longer commute, puts in more hours, and spends the weekends fixing things around the house and paying bills, you might discover that he’s not quite as big a slacker as he seems to be.

Once you have your list in hand, it’s discussion time. Even assuming that the two of you put in exactly the same amount of time (including all chores), there’s still a problem: He apparently decided on his own that whatever he’s doing is enough and that you should do everything else. That may be fair in his mind—and if you count up the hours he may technically be right—but it’s obviously not working for you. The two of you need to discuss a better way to divvy up the workload. Suggest that you switch chores for a few weeks—you write the checks and take care of the leaky toilets and he does the shopping, meal prep, and laundry. This kind of role reversal tends to make people a lot more appreciative of what others are doing.

If, however, you’re doing a lot more than your husband is, you’ll need to have a different kind of discussion. Start by telling him that you’re just not able to do everything by yourself and that you really need his help. (show him the list, but stay far away from words like “lazy” and “slothful.”) If you’re lucky, he’ll say, “I had no idea, honey. I’m ashamed and I’ll change my ways right now.” Don’t hold your breath.

Unfortunately appealing to people’s sense of fairness doesn’t always produce the desired results—or it may produce them for a while until things start backsliding. If you find yourself in this spot, you’ll want to be a bit more aggressive. One thing you can do is start preparing meals that your husband really doesn’t like. If he complains, hand him a cookbook and print out a Google map of the nearest grocery store. But the most effective approach of all is a good old-fashioned strike. A few days of having to do his own laundry and eating nothing but canned tuna, and he’ll be a new man—or at least a skinnier, dirtier one.

Date Nights and Choreplay

Dear Mr. Dad: My son turned one a few weeks ago and it’s been months since my wife and I have had even an hour to ourselves. She makes abstract plans (“We’ll do something this weekend”) but they never happen—she always comes up with some kind of excuse. I’ve complained, but that just upsets her. I’m trying to be understanding but I’m getting more and more frustrated. Help!

A. When you have a baby, going out for even a few hours can take a serious amount of planning. Theoretically, as your baby gets older, it should get easier and easier to get away, not harder, so I understand your frustration. That said, let’s try to figure out what’s really upsetting you. The big question is: what is it that you miss—simply going out or spending time alone with your wife? There’s a subtle but very important distinction.
[Read more...]