50/50 Co-Parenting in the 21st Century

Cupcake Jenny

So the two pronounced pink lines were clear as day on the pregnancy test. You popped open the bottle of Martinelli's and celebrated with tears of joy, and mutually agreed not to tell any family members until the end of the first trimester... Well at least the first month anyway. Once you successfully navigate your way through the first trimester, it's time to celebrate with all of your closest relatives and friends, go through the maze of new genetic tests the doctors' put you through, not to mention the gestational diabetes scare, out-do the Jones' baby room at least a good three months before the due date and cap it all off by having the baby shower soiree of all baby shower soirees. WHEW!! At last your pride and joy is delivered, more healthy and beautiful than you could have dreamed. Congratulations. You've done it. You're parents. You have joined an elite group and suddenly being exhausted from a hard day at work just isn't an option anymore, for either of you.

Maternity leave will unfortunately be short and sweet, and once Mom is back to the grind, the interesting question raised will most likely be, "We both work full time, so why is it that the bulk of parenting responsibility is still on Mom?" The answer is that we as a society have not quite made the transition into true co-parenting yet. A mere fifty years ago, Dad brought home the bacon and Mom took care of the kids. The roles were clearly defined for each individual. But as times changed and the cost of living blew through the roof, it became impossible for most families to survive on a single family income. However, fifty years isn't that long of a history, and the majority of men are still reluctant to embrace the true responsibility of co-parenting. Perhaps it's the poor advice coming from their fathers and grandfathers, or because it's still new; men just don't know what it is they should do. New Dads will truly have to write this history themselves. NOW. TODAY. It's a pressing issue.

If you've spent much time in the presence of parents with young children you may see a disturbing trend. Both parents adore their child/children, but they've grown impatient with each other. "I changed the last diaper, so it's your turn to change this one," can manifest itself into, "I just don't love you anymore," extremely quickly. We've all seen it. The divorce numbers are staggering. So how do we circumvent this unhappy ending? How can we truly parent on a fifty-fifty basis successfully and without laying blame? Clearly we both earn the money and are both responsible for keeping the roof overhead. So what do we do?

The answer is quite simple. The solution to this problem lies squarely on the shoulders of Dad. Dad, if you take the initiative, though it's truly not in your nature to do so, but if you take the initiative to change baby when she's dirty, empty the diaper genie when it starts to get ripe, toss that ragamuffin in the tub when he's been playing in the sandbox, you'd be well on your way to creating marital bliss. Instinctively you know what needs to be done, but because it's been programmed in you for eons that it's Mom's job, you either wait until she handles it, or wait until she nags at you to do it, and then you're both unhappy. Take a page out of the book "Boys Will Be Boys" and have fun co-parenting your child. While you're taking this newfound initiative, throw the dirty dishes in the dishwasher too. It may sound funny, but you'll discover a strange thing begins to occur - Mom won't be so exhausted all the time and she'll show you an appreciation the likes of which you haven't seen since your honeymoon. You'll begin to feel great about giving her a necessary breather AND you'll realize that you are indeed an excellent father. And most importantly, you'll be creating a lifetime, lasting bond with your child like you could have never imagined. Granted, this is not the Dr. Phil show, however, we are at a time when we are writing history as we go. We are still in a learning phase as to how to go about co-parenting on an equal basis, but if you embrace the responsibility, Dad, instead of trying to hide from it, you, as the patriarch of your family will be light years ahead of most - for now anyway.


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