Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Time to Share Work and Family Burdens Equally

Great to see this article in the USA Today about how the economics of marriage have become increasingly beneficial for men because women in the workplace have become more "equal market producers."

It's something I've been thinking about a lot. Feminist gains have gotten us more equality in the labor market (thank you past generations), but we've added the economic burden to our lives without displacing any of our previous household or family burdens (with the possible exception of access to birth control which has helped us keep our families to a more manageable size).

Last September, Maureen Dowd wrote a nice article about women being unhappier due to their increasingly "crowded" lives and more demands being placed on them.

So the solution seems pretty clear. We took on some of the man's economic burden which used to be his alone. Now men need to take on some of the household and family burden that used to be women's alone. It's what the next wave of feminism should be about, and it's a final step to more sustained equality.

If we can better share the responsibility for house and family with our husbands, then perhaps we can actually stay in the labor market and go on to become CEOs and Senators without trying to do it all and then feeling like a failure when we realize we can't and we have to choose family or career. And most of us end of choosing family because that is still our burden to carry alone. If children have issues, the mother is still to blame.

My father stayed home with me from ages 4-8 while my mother worked and it was an incredibly important period for me. I was able to bond with my dad in a way that most other girls my age don't get to, and he continues to be an incredibly important part of my life. Moreover, both of my parents were able to have successful careers as lawyers (although society did make it hard for my dad to reenter the labor market after being a stay at home dad even though he had a law degree).

Anyhow, I know from experience that the career-family burden can be shared effectively and what results are more happy, fulfilled parents and children.