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On Being the Lead Parent

Andrew Moravcsik has many titles: political scientist, Princeton professor, father, and husband to Anne-Marie Slaughter, New America’s president and CEO. He can now add to that list: author of “Why I Put My Wife’s Career First,” which quickly became the most popular article on The Atlantic’s web site after its publication on September 10 and which “Good Morning America”  featured the following morning.

The story’s bottom line can also be summed up by the title underneath Moravcsik’s name on the screen during his “Good Morning America” appearance: “lead parent.” After decades of making the case that “women [with children] cannot compete fairly with men when they are doing two jobs and men are only doing one,” he writes in The Atlantic, just asking men to “help more at home” isn’t the answer. “Men must also take the lead.” For him, being a lead parent to two teenage boys means “being on the front lines of everyday life”—the go-to parent, the emergency contact, “the one” who steps in when things happen. Acknowledging that many dads in similar situations struggle with the cultural barriers and feelings of isolation or inadequacy in their roles, Moravcsik concludes that at the heart of it, being a lead parent “unlocks a capacity for caring and closeness that can last a lifetime.”

We need to change the conversation around the pursuit of gender equality and work-life balance to talk more about where and how care work fits in. Moravcsik’s article previews this and other takeaways from Slaughter’s forthcoming book, Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family, which will be in stores September 29. He knows of what he speaks when he writes: “A female business executive willing to do what it takes to get to the top—go on every trip, meet every client, accept every promotion, even pick up and move to a new location when asked—needs what male CEOs have always had: a spouse who bears most of the burden at home.”

The full article is available here, along with the “Good Morning America” segment.