Equal Parenting: Feasible or Not?

HawkgrrrlMormon 55 Comments

There was an interesting article in NYT about the parenting equality in Sweden.  Sweden’s practices are probably the most advanced in terms of creating parental equality, although they go a little too far for my tastes.  As a business person things like 120 paid days of sick time per year for child care seem a little tough to work around.  Nevertheless, the article highlighted some of the obstacles to creating true equality in parenting.
The obstacles I see preventing couples from truly being equal partners with equal opportunity for career fulfillment and a successful family:
  1. Familiarity.  People who resist change in general, who prefer the comfort of familiarity and traditions, are going to have a hard time creating an equal distribution of parenting responsibility.  From the article:  “Society is a mirror of the family.  The only way to achieve equality in society is to achieve equality in the home.”  Mormon implications:  Generally speaking, people who are active in religions tend to be traditionalists.
  2. Society’s and employer’s support.  There are many financial disincentives for parents to shoulder responsibilities equally.  “A mother’s future earnings increase on average 7 percent for every month the father takes leave.”  That’s from Sweden’s findings.  Of course, if you use the term “paternity leave” in the U.S., most people will laugh their heads off.  For real societal change to happen, those who have the most to lose (in this case, men) have to willingly give up their privileges.  Mormon implications:  The church does actively support more co-parenting, IMO, although traditional norms prevail, and among the older generation, sexism even prevails.  But on the whole, the Mormon men I know seem more experienced with things like diapering, cooking, making family-oriented decisions and pitching in around the home.
  3. Logistics of co-parenting.  “Among those with university degrees, a growing number of couples split the leave evenly; some switch back and forth every few months to avoid one parent assuming a dominant role — or being away from jobs too long.”  It’s natural for one parent to dominate the way the house is run.  Mormon implications:  Perhaps due to gender encouragement (e.g. PoF), IMO Mormons usually have female-dominated homes, even moreso than society at large (which also tends to be domestically female-dominated).
  4. Inherent differences betweeen the SAHP and career parents.  “The higher women rank, the more they resemble men: few male chief executives take parental leave — but neither do the few female chief executives.”   Career ambition and family responsibilities simply conflict.  Over time, one will win.  My DH has said (and I think he’s right), that in a family you can only really have 2 of these 3 things: well-raised kids, mother with good career, father with good career.  And two is best case.  You could clearly lack all three or only have one of the three.  Mormon implications:  There are more women in the church who choose to be a SAHM than outside the church.  This, to me, is the real “gender difference.”  Families with shared SAHParenting or where both parents have careers have more gender sameness.  Where both parents are SAHPs, they seem more traditionally female, and where both parents have careers, the characteristics of the parenting style may be more male.
  5. The emotional pull of staying home.  “the most commonly cited reason for not taking more paternity leave, after finances, was mother’s preference.”  Many women find intense satisfaction from parenting.  Stay at home dads (in the article) in fact find the same thing.  Once they have a taste for staying home, they long for it as much as their wives.  Part of this issue is probably also (not cited in article though) that women want to set the standards within the home (see next comment).  Mormon implications:  Well, I don’t think there are many Mormon SAHDs, although there are some.  But I do think Mormon dads understand the pull of home more than those who are less family focused.
  6. Women’s standards for the home vs. men’s.  “How many dads cut their children’s nails?  I know she’s going to do it and so I don’t bother. We have to overcome that if we truly want to share responsibility.”  This goes to the heart of different standards. Women feel that their children’s and home’s appearance is a reflection on them, that society holds them accountable for these, but even SAHDs don’t have that sense of being scrutinized.  Mormon implications:  There are many GC talks about this.  And personally, I think the key is for men to up their game a little bit, and for women to lower their standards a little bit.  We have to meet in the middle on this one.  And while both parents should take pride in their family and home, neither should feel so pressured by outside perceptions that they can’t simply enjoy their family.
  7. Societal rewards.  “I get complimented on how much I help at home, Cecilia gets no such gratitude.”  When men “parent” they seem to get extra points for being a human being. Women, OTOH, are often judged harshly (or judge themselves harshly) if their home or children don’t meet high standards.  Mormon implications:   Women should not judge other women for choices that differ from their own.  And the one thing that gets my goat is when a man refers to “babysitting” his own kids.  You are not babysitting.  You are parenting.
  8. Gender sameness.  “Some, however, worry that as men and women both work and both stay home with kids, a gender identity crisis looms. “Manhood is being squeezed” by the sameness.”  I have to admit that emasculated men don’t sound that attractive to me. I’d (on the whole) rather have a man who is a SAHD do the job in a male way than a female way or to female standards. And I’m not keen on a man wearing a fake breast to pretend he is breast-feeding. Parenting is already desexualizing enough.  Mormon implications:  Personally I think Mormon men are divided:  those who view their roles in a mostly traditional light (feeling high responsibility for providing financially, but low for sharing domestic responsibility) and those with an equal parenting viewpoint (pragmatically pitching in to do whatever is needed and supportive of untraditional choices their wife makes).  In my experience, the younger generation fit the second category more, and anyone whose wife has a career also tends to fit into that category.  I suppose the key is that each couple needs to make it work for them.  But the pitfalls of the first scenario are worth mentioning:  female reliance on a man when factors may be unpredictable (recession, mid-life crisis / infidelity, death or disablement of the working spouse).  The key IMO is for women to retain options (education, skills, experience, etc.) to be fully self-reliant in the event it is needed.

So, what do you think about equal parenting?  Is it feasible?  Is it desirable?  What should equality in parenting look like?  Are Mormons more or less equal than non-Mormons in your opinion?  Discuss.

Comments 55

  1. I’m all for it in my own life, but it’s just not really possible, given our desires: always having one parent at home as long as the kids are home, having a career/careers that can provide $ and meaning, and having a career/careers that do not require the provider to work more than 40-50 hours a week. My ideal would be for each of us to work 20-25 hours a week, and split SAH time, and still earn enough to be comfortable, but I don’t think we’ll be able to pull that off. Plus, since I’m now in my 4th year of grad school (out of 7) I have a duty now to use the degree, while DW has put her career on hold (at her request) to be home with our kids. We have different roles right now, bur we still consider it “equal” although it is not ideal for us.

  2. Well, having just made sure my daughter was dressed, fed and had her medication while my wife brushed her hair, it is more possible if:

    a) you have few children at home. With our last child, and a large gap between her and the oldest, we’ve had one child at home for a long time now.
    b) you have at least one parent with a non-traditional schedule.
    c) you have one parent with some flexibility at work. I can work at home for half an hour or an hour and then go to work. That gives me room.

    However, before everyone started dying in my family, it would have been much harder.

  3. Hi Hawkgrrl

    I was fortunate enough to get two weeks paid paternity leave when my daughter was born. I then went back to work for two weeks and then took a further two weeks off. This time was invaluable for us as a family as it enabled me to get to know our daughter and learn the ropes of changing and feeding. It also allowed my wife to take naps, have some time to herself and recover from labour.

    Fathers and mothers have equal responsibility for the nurture and development of their children. This doesn’t mean that we both need to be at home all the time but it certainly doesn’t allow me to hide behind work. I hear of some husbands returning home from work, falling asleep in the armchair and then waking up for a hot meal. Shame on those men, they should pitch in and play with the children and help to get the meal ready if time allows.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking and positive post. I’ll be sure to retweet it!


  4. I sympathise with Adam’s experience. My wife is on maternity leave at the moment but wants to return to work. As I have written about here before I am keen for her to do this though I struggle to see how we can pull everything together to make things balanced in the ways that we both want. I have struggled to have equality though I have repeatedly failed, for example the other day she said to me ‘You just expect me to be able to look after the kids’. The context makes this difficult but it is true and I have to work harder to not let expectations placed upon me from elsewhere affect the expectations I ahve of my wife.

    I really liked what Hawk said in the OP about options and certainly feel that creating and providing opportunities to have options is something that should be part of every relationship which every category of they fall into.

  5. I read the NYT article a few days ago with interest as well. While equal and attached parenting is certainly our goal, we’ve accepted that different periods in life will require different sacrifices of each of us, centered around a long-term equilibrium. My wife finished grad school before we got married, and I started my Masters last fall at the same time that baby #1 came. Given school and my continued work part-time, I definitely have far less baby time, though still try to squeeze in as much as I can.

    I’m with AdamF: My wife’s ideal (especially when kids are a bit older or in school) would be to work part-time, either a few hours a day or two or three days a week and switch off with me. Having been working only part-time this past year, and especially after having gotten to spend more time with my son during the break in semesters (including while she did some outside work on the side), I have to say that I’d love that too! It’s so nice to have the commitment and fulfillment from both, but moderated such that neither becomes overwhelming. Such an arrangement is logistically difficult to pull off, but if our system and employers were more amenable to “job-sharing”, I think a lot of people would feel more fulfilled and be able to pull off the good dual career & kids trifecta.

    While some may laugh at “Paternity Leave” I would disagree, at least in my milieu where it’s become pretty standard (though a lot shorter – I only took off two weeks but wish I would have done more). One of the most powerful messages from the article is that societal change can happen surprisingly quickly: sure, some people mocked “velvet dads” who took their parental leave benefit at first, but in just a few years that has disappeared as fathers taking off has become the accepted norm.

  6. Hawkgirl

    I always learn something from everything that you post. Perhaps on your next post you can write something on how paternity/maternity leaves affect their co-workers.

  7. Don’t the statistics show that Mormon women are employed as much as non Mormon?
    Perhaps the real statistics have Mormon women working fewer hours, or perhaps Mormon women have some years as a SAHM but some years as a working mom but are moms longer so it seems like they are a SAHM but actually were only a SAHM for a smaller percentage of her mom years?

  8. “As a business person things like 120 paid days of sick time per year for child care seem a little tough to work around.”

    Generous maternity/paternity leave has much less effect on an economy, where nobody has any children.

    Sweden’s Total Fertility Rate (“TFR”) is 1.7 — below replacement rate. If you factor out the more fertile Muslim immigrants, it’s probably closer to 1.5. Interestingly, Swedish support for its generous welfare state seems to have declined in inverse proportion to its Muslim population. There’s an increasing perception that what could be afforded with a bunch of postmodern lapsed Lutherans, may not be sustainable in a population of fertile traditionalists.

    The United States’ TFR is about 2.1. (White American women basically act like Swedes, with the numbers increased just a touch by religious traditionalists.) The highest-fertility demographic is Hispanics, with a TFR of 2.9; naturally, that’s the fastest-growing component of the population. Especially in states (like mine) with large Hispanic populations, a parental-leave policy as generous as Sweden’s would place a substantially greater strain on employers than Sweden’s policy does.

    I’d love the flexibility to spend more time with my family, but I wouldn’t support a one-size-fits-all legal rule being imposed.

  9. I wanted to share something I saw a few weeks ago that warmed my heart. I was watching my child’s soccer game and noticed that the coach of the other team (a dad) had on a baby sling and was holding his baby while he coached. Now, I see mothers do this all the time but this was the first time I saw a dad. I thought it to be remarkable.

  10. With all due respect, this post seems to be another example of where men can never do anything right and where women are handled with kid gloves. It is getting to be so frustrating.

    We men need to “man up” and return to our divinely appointed roles. Enough of appeasement. It doesn’t work with terrorists, dictators or despots. And it certainly doesn’t work with women.

    P.S. I do like what your husband said about two of three – well-raised kids, mother with good career, or father with good career. But stop calling him dear husband! It makes him sound too woosy! You should call him “my man” instead!

  11. Shawn, can you explain a little more? I’m not sure what you mean by the post suggesting “men can never do anything right” and etc. Sorry it is frustrating though! What do you mean by “appeasement”?

  12. “We men need to “man up” and return to our divinely appointed roles. Enough of appeasement. It doesn’t work with terrorists, dictators or despots. And it certainly doesn’t work with women.”

    Through a fog of years of civilization-wide feminizing socialization, that line cut through to my innermost caveman soul. Now I’m craving a ribeye steak. Extra rare.

    I do notice that whenever I see a youngish LDS couple together, almost invariably, the man is holding the baby. And though nobody’s counting, I think I did the last five straight batches of dishes.

  13. Shawn

    I don’t think you read the post accurately. I’m reading that there seems to be a trend towards men/ women sharing the responsibility equally. Not women coming off as being dictators and terrorist because they don’t want to be in their divinely appointed roles. Did you use the rhetoric you used to incite a specific response on purpose?

  14. AdamF – Men always seem to get told what we are NOT doing right in every general conference, Priesthood session, Stake Priesthood Meeting, and Elders Quorum meeting while women get idolized, sympathy for how hard modern life is, and how special they are. Appeasement is defined as “the policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace”.

    Thomas – Come join me in our ward “man cave” down here in Orlando! We are having a man-only July 4th BBQ while the women take the children to that new Harry Potter attraction at Universal. The secret password to get in can be found in the men’s locker room at the Orlando Temple.

    dblock – May I suggest you be more observant when you notice the trend of “sharing responsibility”. Does the man seem “happy” or is he merely “zombieized”? Women have joined forces with the short dictators of the world like Chavez, Amadinejad, and Kim Jong il who have Napoleon complexes and need re-assurance of their manliness!

  15. Shawn – I’m not a fan of the acronym DH either (or DS, DD, DW), but I am dedicated to ruthless efficiency, so I take shortcuts where I can.

    Since you were concerned that the piece was critical of men I thought I’d recap some of the things I said above that I think women should change: 1) quit being so controlling in the domestic sphere, 2) be capable of financial independence, 3) stop worrying about what others outside the home think of them and 4) don’t judge women who make different choices than they do. I encouraged both spouses to work together on an arrangement that works for them, bearing in mind that both will feel the emotional pull of home. To men, I only suggested that they 1) meet their wives halfway on domestic standards, and 2) not wear a fake breast because it’s icky.

  16. The Family Proclamation didn’t mention my manly responsibility to nurture my kids. Are you saying the First Presidency got that wrong?

  17. Post

    species373 – from the PoF: “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” The PoF doesn’t list every responsibility that conveys. The focus is on working together as a couple within your own situation (“circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation”). The OP is about equal parenting.

  18. A woman’s place is in the home. A woman’s first loyalty should be to her spouse, and her primary concern for her spouse’s well-being. Her second loyalty should be to her children, and she should do whatever it takes to create for them a secure, happy, loving home. Every and any decision she makes, whether it has to do with homemaking, work choice, or time with family, should be done with an eye to the above two priorities. Nothing short of a direct commandment from God should replace those two as the top priorities of her life.

    Ditto for a man.

  19. @15 shawn @ Vort

    Please don’t use terms like a Woman’s place. Its rude and dismissive. Shawn if you don’t really want to engage in a real discussion of the op perhaps you should sit this one out. I might suggest that to Vort

    We don’t live in the 1950 any more, with the little lady staying at home dressed to the nines, cooking dinner in high heels and a string of pearls around her neck.

    As far as a woman’s place.. A woman’s place is anywhere that a men can be in society, unless its’ the boys bathroom.

    Might I also suggest you stop with the dictator name calling of women. You don’t promote your cause. Only your ignorance and sexist attitudes

  20. Dblock – in Vort’s defense, he did say “ditto for a man” at the end, so try reading through what he wrote again with that in mind:

    “A man’s place is in the home. A man’s first loyalty should be to his spouse, and his primary concern for his spouse’s well-being. His second loyalty should be to his children, and he should do whatever it takes to create for them a secure, happy, loving home. Every and any decision he makes, whether it has to do with homemaking, work choice, or time with family, should be done with an eye to the above two priorities. Nothing short of a direct commandment from God should replace those two as the top priorities of his life.”

  21. Things could be worse. We could be Presbyterians, and have to explain John Knox:

    “First, I say, that woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man, not to rule and command him….I say, that it does manifestly repugn that any woman shall reign and bear dominion over man. For God, first by the order of his creation, and after by the curse and malediction pronounced against the woman (by reason of her rebellion) has pronounced the contrary.”

    Strong stuff. http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/firblast.htm

  22. You know, I used to be completely convinced of the evilness of men coming home from work and collapsing on the sofa while their wives made them dinner. And then I spent an afternoon running a jack hammer. If I had to work like that for a living, I don’t think I’d feel bad relaxing for while my wife made me dinner.

    I think it’s our relative prosperity these days that makes these questions pertinent.

  23. @Martin

    There are some studies that women who stay at home to raise children and take care of the home do the same as if they have two full time jobs.

  24. So, what do you think about equal parenting? Is it feasible? Is it desirable? What should equality in parenting look like? Are Mormons more or less equal than non-Mormons in your opinion? Discuss.

    equal parenting: too vague and nebulous. What is “parenting” specifically? personality-forming of children? education(social academic etc) of children? providing material safety and hygiene? household maintenance? a combination of the above and in what proportion? If we could tease out the end goal of what parenting is supposed to accomplish and then work back through its constituent parts, you could come up with something. But it might be different depending on the parents. Once you have the list of jobs necessary for “parenting” you’d have to figure out what you mean by “equal.” Equal in time spent per necessary job? equal in outcome? equal is effort expended?

    If what is meant by equal parenting is simply “every adult should clean the house and change diapers” then it’s very simple. In such a simple case, it could mean that for the number of hours each day spent necessarily cleaning and changing, each adult spends the same amount of time doing those activities. If the house needs 6 hours of cleaning a day, each adult takes 3. For 4 diaper changes a day, each does 2. If this keeps parent A from doing anything else during waking-home hours then you’ve made your choice, right? It’s “equal” now! If this outcome is how you envision it, maybe we should go back and figure out what “equal” and “parenting” *really* mean to you, for example.
    This is a way more complex subject than is immediately apparent.

    Division of and Specialization of Labor: a framework to understand the tension inherent in equal parenting.

    It is a much-taught principle of economics that specialization of production/labor leads to greater productivity in the specialized area. This is why not everyone has to design and build their own house, invent and forge their own machines, plant-harvest-husband-prepare their own food. We’re all able to “have it all” economically precisely because we don’t have to *do it all*.

    Raising children/doing housework/earning incoming/etc is just another form of labor that can be specialized and made more productive. A housework specialist can do more cleaning/whatever per unit of time than a non-specialist (watch a professional housecleaner work if you doubt this). Earning money is a specialization as well. People that specialize in/focus on earning more money per unit of time spent usually end up making more money (they are people who have found a niche where services or production is more valued because less people are doing it. ergo specialization at work again).

    Now think of using specializations in a partnership. In a small business, for example, you might have someone who does the finances, and someone who performs the service. Both have different and important jobs to make the business work efficiently, without wasted time or resources. If the book keeper says “you’re not doing your fair share of the book keeping, *you* do the taxes.” The taxes very well may get done, but at what cost? Loss of business (the service technician has to forego working for clients to work on taxes) and the distinct possibility that the taxes won’t get done correctly, so there are further implications. Lots of wasted opportunities, time, and money. This waste is the inefficiency we’re discussing.

    Ok, now for the home stretch…

    Families, married couples with and without children, single-parent families are all partnerships not unlike business partnerships.
    They have a set of goals for what they want to get out of life together (I hope they were/are explicitly discussed, defined and redefined throughout the partnership). Their goals *may necessitate* a higher of level of productivity to achieve than some other partnership may need. They may want or need specialization to do that. The individual partners are giving up some level of “jack-or-jill-of-all-trades” life-fulfillment to specialize. Finally, people draw the line differently for what their specialization will entail.
    A married couple may decide that they both want careers. Therefore, they will be less efficient in maintaining the household and teaching/guiding the children. This hurts a lot of people’s feelings; they say “I’m *not* ‘less than’ other parents because I work!” And they aren’t *worth* less; they are merely less efficient at producing whatever we think dedicated “stay at home parents” produce (teaching-opportunities? guidance? clean dishes? whatever). They have chosen to split their effort and skill between several *other* pursuits and therefore their child-rasing/teaching/housecleaning does not benefit by efficiency. They *can* still benefit by specialization. They can hire a housekeeper to clean when they’re not around. They can hire a nanny/daycare/”manny”/whatever to interact with the children. They are using their specialized earning power to buy other services from specialists.
    This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it *isn’t* what some people dream of. People dream of only working *literally* a couple of hours a day to earn enough money so that all the adults in the household can all cook and clean and play with the children in a spacious, immaculately clean home in a safe neighborhood right around the corner from the organic farmer’s market and the best elementary school in the state. Maybe your dream is scaled back a bit, but you’d be surprised how much of this over the top description you really want. Well, you won’t get it, at least not with normal levels of productivity. You’ll need the lever of specialization/productivity to move that boulder.

    So now you say, “I don’t want *that* but I do want my spouse to do X more (or less or whatever)” or “but *I* really want to do Y now.” Decide if the outcome is worth reshuffling the division of labor, the negative-hit to productivity of changing specializations etc and go for it if its worth it. My home has had both spouses as sole-earners, and some states in between at various times. It can work if you are realistic about the cost-benefits of the change in the partnership.

    I could further illustrate this with any number of family dynamics I’ve seen/been in, but I’m positive you’re sick of this comment by now. I can’t believe you even read this far.

  25. #15 Shawn: Men always seem to get told what we are NOT doing right in every general conference, Priesthood session, Stake Priesthood Meeting, and Elders Quorum meeting while women get idolized, sympathy for how hard modern life is, and how special they are.

    I feel your pain, brother, especially as the father of boys. But I would suggest that complaining about this seeming “unequal” treatment will ultimately do more harm than good. The tide on this is changing anyway, and has been for more than a decade. You don’t hear nearly as much of the “scumbag men” type of talk as was common in our childhood and youth, and you even have an occasional Elder Holland telling the women that, for example, pornography is not just a problem for men, or that their unguarded, vicious words can cause deep and lasting wounds.

    Don’t steady the ark; just let things happen in God’s good time. Love your wife, treat women with respect and deference, and by all means DO NOT add to the “war of the sexes” conflagration visible everywhere around us. It’s a Satanic ploy in which we should have no part at all. Women rock. Men rock. We have our places and our duties. Let’s learn them and live them, and let the rest go by the board.

  26. I think there’s a guy that posts at Feministmormonhousewives who would probably be glad to explain the benefits of men wearing fake breasts…

  27. I work part time as an independent contractor (clinical social worker in a small practice) so I have no sick leave. But my husband has great benefits so he is the one who takes off work to take kids to doctor appts, stay home when little ones are sick, etc. He’s a good dad and does way more in terms of child rearing than his father. But, I’m still a firm believer in the second shift– (http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-0142002925-0)
    The one thing I would love to see happen is for women to earn Soc Security credits for being a stay at home mother. Think about it. For example, if you’ve never worked and became disabled, you might not be eligible for Soc Sec. Disability payments. There needs to be an incentive for women (or men for that matter) to stay home and parent. I think it could make a difference for families trying to decide about child care.

  28. RACHEL,

    IF YOU never worked but your husband did and he suddenly passed, than you would qualify for benefits because of your husbands work credits,

  29. dblock, my point is that parenting is work and should be recognized as such. I would get survivor’s benefits and so would the children. But I have to wait for him to die! What if I, as a stay at home mother, become disabled? But it’s a pittance. What one thinks about SSA is immaterial. I’m just arguing for a system that in some way acknowledges stay at home parents.

  30. Jeff, dang it all! There goes all that advice I got when I got married about being “co-equal.” I’m telling my wife tonight it doesn’t exist. 😉

  31. Co-equal in our standing before God, yes. In most other areas, can’t be.

    I’ll tell her, if you like……. 🙂

  32. Just to let you know, there is a bill going through the Australian Parliament at present giving 18 weeks maternity/paternity leave to all families. If your employer does not pay for such a scheme the government will at the minimum wage. The opposition, conservative, party is seeking to change it to 26 weeks at your current wage (not minimum wage).

    The Government also pay a baby bonus of $5000 on the birth of a child. Most of our ecenomic stimulus money (to fight the ecenomic downturn) went to families, not business.

    Talking of family friendly matters we also have 6 weeks paid annual leave, universal health cover, and a minimum wage.

    For those of you who think this would drive the economy broke, our debt to GDP rate is about18.6% while the US is between 52 and 72% depending on where you look for the figures. You must spend more on middle class and industrial welfare than we do.

    As far as the equal parenting, and pulling your weight in the home. Both being retired I find that so long as I am willing to do any job I see needs doing my wife is happy. She also tells me that seeing me doing housework does more for her libido than most anything else.

    I did not have a very fulfilling job when I was working (sales rep), and although my wife was better educated than I, she only took part time menial jobs while the children were at school. She would have been a better provider but thought that was my role. I do think I missed out on time with the kids, because of the need to make money, but when we get together there are few complaints in this regard. I think she was a better mother than I would have been.

    I am better at wrestling/ playing with the kids and small grandkids, and think it’s a fathers job to teach kids that in rough play there is some pain, and you can feel pain without loosing your temper. I also taught my kids not to be tickleable (self control), and how to make concious decisions, taking into account all the options and looking for the consequences of each option short, long and into the eternities. We both taught frugal living, and an awareness that you can achieve what you set out to do if you take it one step at a time.

  33. Post#33 (Jeff) – Agreed. Or at least “equal” does not necessarily mean “same”. It would seem self-evident that a mother and a father would have different styles of parenting; else, why not just be hermaphrodites? Ideally, differences in parenting styles would be complementary, e.g., shoring up each other’s weakness and building upon each other’s strengths.

    There will always be an inherent conflict in that traditionally the man brings home the bacon and the woman frys it. I’m old enough to remember the so-called “women’s lib” movement and what hilarities often resulted from challenges to traditional gender roles. It’s interesting that typically my son-in-law and I like to chat about cooking, and more than just cremating something on the BBQ!

    Call it old-fangled chivalry but I was long taught by my non-LDS father that a “real man” doesn’t have to be asked to change the **messy** diapers and perform other unpleasant tasks; he takes the initiative to do it himself.

    I am leery of all kinds of “socalistic” laws and policies to promote “Paternal Leave” or similar, though. Public policy should be as gender-neutral as practical when dealing with public employees. For the private sector, that should be strictly a matter of negotiation. Firms with intelligent management recongize that valued employees have families and a health family life makes for more productive employees and managers. If they don’t, time to dust off the resume…

  34. Doug, how many companies can you think of, off the top of your head who value employees? I mean, don’t google it. Just think about what is in your community that really does it well.

  35. Microsoft Corporation offers four weeks of parental leave to any employee who produces or adopts a child. I don’t know how many employees actually take it, but I suspect many do.

  36. #20

    “A woman’s place is in the home. A woman’s first loyalty should be to her spouse, and her primary concern for her spouse’s well-being. Her second loyalty should be to her children, and she should do whatever it takes to create for them a secure, happy, loving home”

    I don’t know where this comes from but I don’t think it reflects reality. If a mother is has to make a choice between her husband and children, husband loses and I don’t think it would be accounted to her for sin. Any husband that puts his wife in that position for whatever reason is an idiot and gets what he deserves.

  37. #44 GBSmith: Then we have a fundamental difference of values. To me, it is obvious that a woman’s primary loyalty and duty is to her husband, as his is to her. As a couple, their primary duty and loyalty is to their children.

    Clearly, the best interests of the children often trump the short-term desires of the spouses. In effect, the best interest of either spouse is the best interest of his or her children, as any parent knows. But any woman who allows her mothering to take ultimate precedent over the spouse — for example, directing her love and attention toward the children to the exclusion or detriment of the spouse — is foolishly mortgaging her long-term eternal bond to follow her short-term instinct. Obviously, the same holds true for men. But I seldom hear people talk about how the father needs to put his children’s needs ahead of his wife’s, yet it is common to hear people talk about how the mother has to put her children’s needs ahead of her husband’s. It’s not merely inconsistent, it’s foolish.

  38. #46 GBSmith: My observation doesn’t match yours. In my own relationship, for example, we try to put each other first. Our children know that each of us comes first to the other, and I believe that gives them a sense of stability and order that they would otherwise lack. We are not the only couple with this philosophy.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a husband being a idiot who “puts his wife in that position”. If a woman marries, she puts herself in the position of being primarily loyal to her husband. There’s no intrigue on the husband’s part.

  39. GBSmith: “If a mother is has to make a choice between her husband and children, husband loses and I don’t think it would be accounted to her for sin.” I agree with Vort that couples must put their spouses first. And for a mother to be too wrapped up in her children (to an unhealthy degree) is a caution that C.S. Lewis described in The Great Divorce (IIRC). The trend these days is toward “helicopter parenting,” hovering over our kids, overscheduling them, overprotecting them. That’s not healthy.

  40. No argument from me, HG and Vort. I’ve just seen over the years situations where wives/mothers were in a situation of chosing their children over their husband. Sometimes it was related to the abusive nature of the husband and sometimes because of the mother just placing the children first. What it showed to me is that once you step outside the ideal of couples mutually supporting each other in all their needs and in so doing providing the best home for the children it all descends into a win lose situation over who has the power in the home. And then everyone loses.

    No need to continue this part of the conversation. I agree with what you both have said.

  41. Fathers Day is coming up shortly. Perhaps we could determine whether the era of “dump on the men, praise the women” has passed by the kind of talks given in sacrament meeting this week. Anyone besides me willing to “return and report?”

  42. (#50, Clark) – Hmmm. “Return and Report”? Well, this messenger is somewhat less than Peter, James, and John. I’ll have to suffice.

    I’d say the “men are scum” theme is not hit as strongly as it was a few years ago. Still, we don’t harp on the shortcomings of the sisters, rather, we “damm with faint praise” at worst.

    We Priesthood holders get enough pontification at our shortcomings, both real and perceived, especially at Priesthood session at General Conference. Part of being a “may-un”, I guess, is that if it’s not applicable, you just let it roll off your back. If it IS applicable…well, APPLY IT! (If nothing else, maybe they’ll shut up!!!)

  43. Anyone besides me willing to “return and report?”

    My experience went like this on Sunday:
    – Lots of praise for Bishops and Stake Presidents and leaders who serve tirelessly
    – One speaker started by stating his wife read his talk and said that it was a harsh talk of what fathers should be doing more of…she said if that talk was given on Mother’s Day the mothers would run out of the church crying. But he said it was what the fathers needed to hear. Fathers need to be doing more in our ward and step it up.

    […or something like that…I was kinda zoning out and playing the connect-the-dots game with my son so I wasn’t really listening…I’m sure he wasn’t talking about me…right?)

  44. In our ward, the Sunday talks addressed Father’s Day in that they talked about the importance of fathers. Generally positive, no overt criticisms of men or anything like that. Several “Happy Father’s Day!”s heard around the membership while in the halls and in classes. Didn’t really address the topic in Priesthood meeting. I think that most of the men simply weren’t focused on it and didn’t think about it. And not just the mean; the RS President made no attempt to give out recognition to fathers/men, as is done for the women on Mother’s Day. I suppose you could take that for a negative, if you wanted. But otherwise, I sensed no hostility or negativity or desire to lecture men on their weaknesses. One reason Father’s Day is not as big a deal as Mother’s Day might be because the Priesthood leadership is, of course, all men, and they either don’t feel comfortable drawing attention to themselves as if seeking praise, or else they just don’t think much about it.

  45. Vort, I think they just don’t think much about it.

    In my home…I don’t think much about it and don’t want to make it a big deal. My wife will tell me, “You say that, but you’d be sad if we did nothing.” Honestly, I don’t think I would. Sure I like a little hug from the kids…but I don’t care to make me “King for the Day”.

    On the other hand…I do think it is important for kids to take some time to remember mothers and fathers…I think it is a good tradition for the kids and for family relationships. I know I really want to make sure they remember their mother and all she tirelessly does for them. I just don’t think much about it for myself.

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