Oct. 14, 2019
We’re Trying to Solve: Parenting that isn't shared fairly
Target Audience: Parents
Category: Assessment and check-in tools
Estimated Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy, with some concentration and follow-up
Women are often the ones who are expected to be the primary caregiver to children. That can set up a lifelong pattern of women carrying the bulk of the planning, doing, or delegating the caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes, parents need to take a moment to get a clearer picture of where they are and think about what they really want. This experiment was inspired by Marc and Amy Vachon, authors of Equally Shared Parenting. You can find their Child Raising Equality Scale here.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be a married or a partnered parent to try this one out. You can do this experiment with anyone you consider to be another significant caregiver to your kids.
- Each parent takes a moment to think about how they’d really like to share parenting responsibilities with their partner. What would an “ideal” dynamic look like? Write it down if you like, and share it with each other. If you have different visions, talk about where they may come from? Are there any areas of overlap you can at least start building toward?
- Then each parent takes the following brief, 12-question snapshot to assess your current parenting reality. Here’s a quick snapshot form you can use online (make sure to click the box to have your results sent to you!). Alternately, print or copy, paste, and save the list below to a device. Mark the form with the name of the person you think handles any given task most often. Some families may alternate responsibilities, or have their own systems for sharing. That’s why we’ve created an “Other” option. The template may be more relevant to parents of younger kids. Feel free to add parenting responsibilities most relevant to your context and skip the ones that don't apply.
- Share your results. What did you notice? Did you agree on who tends to be responsible for which parenting duties? Did you disagree? Without judgment, talk about the areas where you see things differently.
- Take a walk, share a pot of tea or cup of coffee, and begin to think through how you could move from where you are in your current reality toward your vision. Does this reality match your vision? Is it making you happy? What’s getting in the way? If you’re already there, take a moment to celebrate! If not, move forward one small step at a time. This is a first step to sharing parenting more deliberately and fairly!
A 12-Question Parenting Snapshot
Answer each question with either parent's name, “Equally Shared,” or “Other.”
- Who is responsible for feeding the child/children?
- Who usually packs school lunches?
- Who is responsible for the evening bath and bedtime?
- Who manages the morning routine, getting everyone fed, dressed, and out the door?
- Who does most of the driving, child care drop off and pickups, transporting to events, or field trips?
- Who organizes and manages child care?
- Who plans birthday parties, holidays, special events and buys gifts for friends?
- If a child is sick, or there's an emergency, or a school closure, who usually takes care of the kids, or arranges care?
- Who buys and organizes children's clothes and closets?
- Who supervises homework and communicates with the school and teachers?
- Who makes pediatrician, dentist, and other medical appointments and takes the kids?
- Who finds and organizes sports, playdates, after-school or weekend extracurricular activities, transports kids, and attends events?
Connect With the Better Life Lab
Are you going to try this week’s experiment? Do you have a story about how you and your own family solved a problem with the work at home? Is there a specific challenge you’ve been trying to tackle? Can this experiment be improved? Please let us know via this form, at email@example.com, or in our Facebook group for BLLx Beta Testers.
Be sure to also sign up for our biweekly newsletter!