Here is an except from Asher’s website that explains her main claim:
“Today women outperform men at school and university. They make a success of their early careers and enter into relationships on their own terms. So it might seem that equality is in the bag. But once they have children, their illusions are swiftly shattered. Becoming a mother is a tremendously rewarding experience, but for all the current talk of shared parenting, women still find themselves bearing primary responsibility for bringing up their children, to the detriment of everything else in their lives.
Fathers, conversely, are dragooned into the role of main earner, becoming semi-detached from their families. Both men and women put up too little resistance to this pressure, shying away from asking what is really best for themselves and their children. The consequences of this enduring inequality in the home reach far beyond individuals and into society as a whole. A radical new approach is needed if we want to raise our children fairly and happily.”
I’d like to share with you some of the points that are made in the book that I hope will be taken on by governments in the world to increase the possibility of shared parenting, for the good of the whole family:
- Have fathers involved in the ante-natal care and also to stay with mother and baby if they are in hospital overnight.
- Give maternity and paternity leave so that both parents can learn to care for their baby and build family bonds, especially in the early life of the child.
- Allow flexible working for both parents. This could be both working part-time, or starting and finishing early the other late so both parents can work and take children to and from school together.
In her final chapter Asher concludes:
“The net results of our strictly gendered roles are plain for all to see: women whose skills go to waste; a large and persistent pay gap between the sexes; men who feel disconnected with their children’s lives; family breakup, and even child poverty. Women are educated to the hilt only to be severely limited in their ability to use their learning if they become mothers. The state loses its return on educational investment. And while we agonise about social breakdown, relationships within families – supposedly society’s bedrock – are put under tremendous pressure by the polarisation of men and women’s lives.”
Do you agree? Should men and women share parenting, or should it be one parents job to nurture the family? Undoubtedly, in our society there are Mums and Dads that want to be the sole stay-at-home parent. Is this because life is easier this way, with distinctive roles? Or is it because that is the way we’ve always imagined it? Do you really believe that having one parent doing most of the nurturing and the other working outside the home is best for the child?
We have had something of a non-traditional family arrangement so far: for the most part I have been the stay-at-home parent, while Andrew is a full-time student. The flexibility of his course has meant that he is not actually outside the home as much as other Dads and that has been really great. (I can’t imagine life with little ones where Dad gets up early for a long day at work – you see him for breakfast and then he’s gone until the little ones’ bedtime. Some working parents must only really see their children at the weekend, while the other feels like they never get a break from them.) Recently, I have worked part-time (which I really enjoyed) while Andrew has looked after the girls, and although he had spent a lot of time with them previously, this sole parenting time I think has really changed his outlook on parenthood, and also created a much tighter relationship with our girls. I really hope that our family can find an equality in parenting going forward, so that all of our lives will be enriched together.
What about you? What would your perfect family life look like?