Are we missing the point of shared parenting? | Women's Agenda

Are we missing the point of shared parenting?

As I watched the premiere of House Husbands last night and its depiction of four fathers seemingly out of control, all I could think about was how lucky those women were to have someone else do the school run. It also made me realise how far we haven’t come with the concept of shared parenting.

School drop-off generally defines the starting point for at least one parent’s working day. I was the drop-off parent which meant that each day started with a mad rush. None of the working wives in this show had to drop off or pick up and that looked like a modern day luxury to me.

Instead the wives fired off orders for the men to remember, and then frowned when they messed up. This show is a dramedy so of course the dads were always going to make mistakes. But it did make me question why their actions were considered mistakes. A mistake occurs when you deviate from a preferred path.

Like the mothers in this show I am the architect of my children’s path. My husband has always helped with our boys. But if I am honest about it, I provided a very strict roadmap of how to help. He would collect the boys from school most days but I would book all of the after-school engagements, from dental appointments to play dates, and leave instructions on where to go and what to take, right down to clothing detail. I left nothing to chance, or to my husband’s judgment.

I still do it. When I travel for work I leave detailed instructions about what needs to be done when. And my boys are teenagers. Every day after school my youngest son has something on: sport, music, drama. I know his schedule back-to-front. I know that my husband doesn’t. But maybe he doesn’t because I do.

My husband is entirely capable so I don’t know why I do this. He tells me to relax, but I can only relax knowing that he knows exactly how things need to be done. And then I text him to check that he has done it the way I planned.

I know I’m not alone in this. I speak to many women who agree that although their partners help with the children and housework, they still do all the planning and thinking. And that’s really the exhausting part. I have listened to women complain about it: “he may help physically, but we still do all the thinking”. But is that situation of our own making? And would we really be happy any other way?

If you watched House Husbands last night you might agree that there is an underlying truth to this drama. The poor dads were more concerned with how their wives would judge them then the fact that their kids may have been seriously hurt on a runaway bus. The wives were dissatisfied on both counts. Their child’s day definitely didn’t go as they had planned. Sound familiar?

Does your partner do his fair share under strict instruction? Are we missing the point?

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