Since I began blogging about parenting, I bookmarked the New York Times’s parenting blogger Lisa Belkin. One of her recurring themes is the concept of equal parenting in which Moms and Dads share responsibilities and tasks as equally as possible. Lisa’s comment section fills up rapidly with suggestions for calculating what constitutes a “fair” division of parenting responsibilities and the wisdom of keeping a mental score sheet of who did what around the house. It all seems to boil down to a lot of Moms complaining that Dads don’t enough laundry and dishes and Dads wonder they don’t get credit for yardwork or taking the kids to the playground. The debate goes on and on.
I’d say that equal parenting is a good goal to aim for, but it is unlikely that Mom’s scoresheet will tally the same way Dad’s scoresheet does. In my experience, perhaps a better measuring stick is the frequency that one parent takes the kids out of the house to give their partner needed chill time. I know that my worst moments as a parent come when I am tired or have endured too much nagging, whining, or Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. In those moments, I’d jump at the chance to do dishes or fold laundry if that allowed me to listen to my iPod and steal a few moments by myself. Luckily, my wife has an uncanny knack for knowing when I need a break. I count myself very lucky that I never have to sit around and fret over issues of equal parenting like many of those commenters at Lisa’s blog.