Still Searching For An Equal Co-Parent?


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My daughter and her husband are both working parents. They have the same employer-the United States Air Force. They also share job titles. Both are Instructor Pilots. They have a one-year old daughter, who adds another dimension to family life and their relationship. They have to be able to effectively co-parent, in their child’s best interest.

In two parent homes with children, it is no longer uncommon for both to be employed outside of the home. Most employers, including the US Air Force, have some form of a parental leave policy for both women and men, paternity or maternity leave. When a new baby arrives, it is both joyful and frightening for both partners. Life, as they once knew it must be renegotiated. It can be overwhelming, and although times have changed, mothers still are expected to bear the most responsibilities of caring for a child.

Working mothers have to negotiate a timely return to work, if she values her career or if her paychecks are critical to the financial survival of the family. This can also reflect the beliefs that held regarding the role of men and women as it pertains to career, childcare and certain household chores. The ‘traditional’ division of labor assumed that women had the primary responsibility for maintaining the home and children in the home. Women were expected to do it all- everything except work outside of the home. Men handled the world of work, managed household finances, and occasionally would mow the lawn or do light repairs. Today, this is being challenged and flipped on its head. Not any more, but couples must negotiate their roles while respecting the reality which says,”the house doesn’t clean itself”, and meanwhile, the bills must get paid.

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Stay at home mothers ARE still working mothers, and there are no designated work hours. It is a 24/7 non-paying position. Women have choices and today, they exercise those choices. My daughter and son-in-law reflect a more equitable distribution of labor and duties with regard to their daughter. While breastfeeding, a father’s role in childcare is minimal at best. Changing diapers, occasional bathing, burping, characterized his role.

Upon returning to work, as Pilots, their work-related duties are complex. When my daughter discovered that she was expecting, she had the obligation to inform her superiors. She is a Major,  Director of Flight Operations, and was grounded by the military during this critical time of her life. Three months leave, and cleared to fly again, she returned to work. My son-in-law didn’t have to negotiate the issues faced by my daughter. He, also a Major, continued to fly during her pregnancy. She became, while pregnant, the chief logistics officer. In other words, she was limited to desk duty, scheduled airtime, flight schedules, student assessments, but no flying…temporarily.

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Now that she has resumed her full time duties-  is airborne again- the  baby’s childcare decision had to be made. Together, they agreed upon a nurturing environment for her/their daughter which allowed continued nursing.  Fortunately, the Air Force also provides an on-site, on base CDC[child day care] center. Both mom and dad can drop in and visit their daughter during their workday, and as greatly respected officers, they felt secure in the quality of care, as well.

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At home, my daughter and her husband  co-parent so nicely, and almost naturally, too. I envy them both, while admiring their level of maturity, equity and equal consideration of one another within a dual-career family. He can be seen giving baths, cleaning the house, washing dishes, and  vacuuming rugs[even though Roomba* does the work]. He also, with relative frequency, prepares nighttime bottles for his daughter and rocks her to sleep, giving mom a little rest. I didn’t mention that they also have two dogs, as well.

There is nothing that my daughter does that he doesn’t or won’t do. It is so reassuring to me to see this type of relationship between two people. I am so very proud of them both. For almost nine years of marriage, these new parents, both career-oriented and responsible adults, are contemplating child #2 soon. Another military brat in the future! Co-parenting? Yes it is alive and well, in at least one family, my daughter’s. [Did she train him well?] Or is he too good to be true, and a product of his own upbringing? To whatever we attribute it, they are a beautiful family, adoring parents and they have one lucky little girl!

Their relationship,  no matter where their lives and careers lead,  is enhanced because they are both such loving and adoring parents. That is one of the most  important components necessary, along with mutual respect, effective communication and effective coping skills that adults must demonstrate and model for their children.

The notion of co-parenting was examined in new research that measured the hours spent by 167 couples who work full-time on housework before and after the birth of their first child. While mothers tend to do the lion’s share of childcare and housework, six major factors emerged that may determine how likely men are to strive to do their fair share. Read more by following the link below:

via Searching for an equal co-parent.

Also, share your opinions and experiences on co-parenting-past or present. Leave a reply!

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