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The Daddy Shift

Erstellt von Hans-Georg Nelles am Donnerstag 2. Juli 2009

… How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family.

In seinem zum Vatertag erschienen Buch verarbeitet Jeremy Adam Smith eigene Erfahrungen und verbindet sie mit den Perspektiven einer partnerschaftlich aufgeteilten Elternschaft in der amerikanischen Gesellschaft.

Im Gespräch mit Liz Kofman und Astri von Arbin Ahlander erläutert er seine Ansichten und den Gewinn für Väter durch geteilte Elternschaft.

What are the benefits of shared parenting?

Smith: The benefits are different for women and men and children. Women get a chance to do things besides change diapers. Men learn how to be whole human beings. Children, the young ones, learn that they can survive without mommy; they gain independence, and they discover how much dad loves them.

What are the drawbacks of shared parenting?

S: That varies from couple to couple, I’d say. But mainly, for most, the drawbacks are inner conflict and confusion. Men and women are living their lives according to scripts that are hundreds, maybe thousands, of years old, scripts that are not terribly relevant to our twenty-first-century reality. Women worry that they are being bad mothers when they go off to work; dads worry that they are bad fathers when they don’t. Some moms feel responsible–sometimes in overcompensating, overbearing ways–for kids and housework, and blame caregiving dads when something seems to go wrong at home.

But I discovered, in examining my own experience and in interviewing parents around the country, that these drawbacks can be overcome. The happiest couples I interviewed were the ones who prize time with kids and are able to articulate what they are gaining through a reverse-traditional arrangement. They value work and care equally, and are grateful to each other for the contributions each makes to the household, and so they value each other.

What needs to change in our society for shared parenting to really take hold?

Smith: So much. We have very far to go. For dads, the most important thing we can do right now is tell stories; it’s very powerful for men to tell and hear stories about the first time they held or fed their children. That helps create a culture of care and a new image of the good father. For decades, fathers have been told they’re worthless, or violent, or absent. It’s time to provide the positive examples, to reflect what’s best in fatherhood back to men and boys.

What’s interesting about the United States is that the culture is changing in advance of public and workplace policies. Sweden, by contrast, has tried to legislate shared parenting into existence, with some success. But in America, employers and government have fought shared parenting tooth and nail. For example, only a tenth of fathers have access to paternity leave. Only California guarantees paid leave to parents, and it’s pretty paltry. Caregiving activities, such as the ability to take a sick child to the doctor, are not protected as well as they should be.

And yet American parents have been very resilient and creative, and have forged new roles for themselves. Fatherhood has evolved beyond breadwinning, to encompass a capacity for caregiving. That revolution has just started, but the evidence suggests that it will continue. Now public policy needs to catch up. We need to recognize that moms and dads alike have responsibilities at home as well as at work. That recognition will make America a better, more humane place. …


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