A new mother recently shared her experiences with sexism surrounding parenting from before Day 1 of new baby. She believes that her “husband is not a ‘hands on dad’ at all. He’s just a dad.”
This is so true of many modern families. We’ve matured as a society. Women and men have more equal opportunity to pursue careers and raise children. We’re moms and dads, in it together.
As we shed the stereotypes of the past, what results is a more harmonious family unit. Each is different, giving and taking in whatever ways that family has determined is best. The traditionally strict gender roles are giving way to roles that emphasize each parent’s skills and priorities.
For our family, it means we all do laundry. Heck, we’ve taken this so far as to have successfully cloth diapered two kids. And I’ve never once felt like I am the only one working the washing machine. My husband deals with stinky diapers as much if not more than me. He also makes school lunches, does doctors’ runs, pays bills, and runs errands, among other things.
We’re both working, and we both have professional careers. So we divide our time in a way that respects both of our jobs, keeps our household fed and somewhat clean, and maintains our sanity. There’s a list of meals for the week on the counter, whoever is available makes the meal. The other person (usually) cleans up or does the bedtime routine. We both sat through prenatal classes together, and we both watch our kids while the other gets a nap or some exercise in. It’s a give and take, and we love it.
This is the ultimate work-life balance. It’s not just about a mom balancing her work and her entire family’s life. It’s about a family working together to balance all the work and all the life.
“United we parent.” That’s the motto of one dad who started up a website that focuses on bringing families together and working out balance. Our generation is starting to realize that happy families aren’t just about “mommy marketing” or “daddy warriors.” We are focused on being happy parents who raise happy kids.
I’m privileged to be part of a community of parents who are committed to sharing the load in their families and who are changing the parenting landscape for the future of our children. One mom of three girls (including twins) recently shared how she had stepped up her work life, and as a result, her husband ratcheted up his contribution to child shuffling, doctors’ visits, and housework. He also cut down on his work schedule by 20%. It’s a balance.
The dad in that family is especially skilled at balancing, especially as he bikes his kids to ballet class.
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said, “Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.” We’re all doing a bit of a balancing act.
Kristen Jarvis Johnson is an international lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, co-founder of Boy Story, family devotee, and social changer. She can't decide whether to lean in or lean back, but with two young sons, her hands always seem to be full. Her village is her rock: her husband, family, friends, and colleagues. Find her on Facebook & Instagram @kristenmjj and on Twitter @kristenmj