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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Are We There Yet?

Dads: “A bridge between the mother’s body and the rest of the world”

At our house, the division of labor is almost 50-50. Or at least, that's what we aim for.

I work part-time and go to night classes. My husband works full-time, but in the evenings and on weekends, he really makes an effort to play with the kids, cook nutritious meals for the family and do his share of the household duties. We try to reach a happy medium, but the midpoint is often elusive. There are moments when one of us gets resentful, but for the most part, we do our best to make it work.

This seems to be a struggle for many couples. In some households, women still do most of the parenting, according to Jeremy Adam Smith, a stay-at-home dad and author of “The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family.”

In an interview with Lisa Belkin of The New York Times, Smith acknowledged that there’s still little equality at home, even though women and men have sought equal opportunity in the workplace. Fathers, however, are beginning to speak up about family issues, he said. More than ever, they’re spending more time with their children and are part of what Smith calls the “daddy shift” – “the gradual movement away from the definition of fatherhood as breadwinning to one that encompasses a capacity of caregiving.”

Later in the interview, Smith told The Times that he’s not at all against breastfeeding, but the reality during the first year of a child’s life is that breastfeeding can often “be a real obstacle to father involvement.” It’s important for couples to be aware of this dynamic, he said, and to make sure dads are part of the picture.

Here’s an excerpt from his interview, posted on The New York Times’ blog, Motherlode:

“The key, I found out, is to be mindful of this dynamic and of the father’s role as a bridge between the mother’s body and the rest of the world. Handing baby over to Dad helps the baby realize that he will survive without Mom, though the transition can be hellish. I wish we as a culture were better at rituals; it would be good to have a ritual of some kind that would mark this passage, from reliance on mom’s body to ramping up dad’s care. As things are in most families, I think it really comes down to Mom, at a certain point, being able to give the baby to her partner and then just… walk away. The screams die out eventually, and after a couple of weeks of this, dad and baby will be happy enough together.”

Who takes care of the kids at your house? Do you think it’s harder for dads to establish a bond or natural attachment to their infants during those early months? What can couples do to create more equality at home? Should "equality" even be a goal? How would you define "equality" in the first place?

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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.