Figuring Out Equally Shared Parenting : Gender roles, shmender roles

29 March 2012

What we have is special.

That's how we, the husband and I, feel. From the day we got married, till last night "spooning at a distance" in bed, we know that what we have is special.

We are also kind of weird.

That's how we have felt as parents and coworkers in full-time ministry who, for the last 5 years, have been a stay-at-home, work-from-home, and work-out-of-the-home family, doing almost all of it together. Once we discovered a name for it - Equally Shared Parenting - we began to feel not so weird. And while we're still working out the kinks, I wanted to share a bit about what we do at home, why we do it, and how.

matt karen march 2007

Gender roles, shmender roles...

When we became engaged, we filled out this wonderful workbook on saving our marriage (before it starts). One area of assessment was on gender roles, and I distinctly remember having a good laugh and saying to Matt: "I was raised by a single mom. Good luck with all that!"

And in response, he said something akin to, "Have you seen my pots and pans collection?"

From the get-go, we've split household chores up. Matt loved to cook, and I tolerated laundry. He wrote the checks, and I balanced them. Together we'd make the house a mess, and together we'd eventually get around to cleaning it up. He volunteers at the boy's school, while I accompany the girl on her field trips. It isn't always equal, but it is almost always fair.

Like everything else, this has evolved over time (currently, Matt handles all the finances while I handle all the nagging him about it). There have been times when one of us has done more at home - when Matt worked two jobs, for instance, so I could stay at home with a new baby; or recently when each of us has taken on more work to make ends meet between here and Ireland - but eschewing traditional gender roles in favour of trying to serve eachother and enjoy a partnership has been our default philosophy. And mostly, with great flexibility, it works.

Next week I'll share about parenting for rookies and how we learned to mix it up in times of transition.

Have you heard of Equally Shared Parenting? Is your family/home-life somewhat unorthodox? Can you confirm that we are, in fact, totally weird?


  1. you're not alone, that is how we parent/our marriage is set up, also. (I had no idea there was an entire book out there about it though!)

    (also hi, I'm a new reader, nice to "meet" you. :))

  2. That is very much how my relationship is with my husband. We are also in full-time ministry, and although I stay at home more than he does, I am very involved in the ministry and he is very involved in our home life. It's funny because his parents are very traditional when it comes to gender roles, so my husband gets a lot of raised eyebrows from them when he is "caught" washing dishes and folding laundry, but we just laugh about it.

  3. We would certainly consider ourselves to be equally sharing parenthood. But, we do appear to have fairly traditional gender roles. Our skills & gifts are sort of traditional, I guess. He is the college grad who has the good job & he is the main breadwinner. I grew up in a large family & am very comfortable in the ways of homemaking. And yet, we don't view these things are gender issues really. Nor does he leave the home
    & children to me, by any means. He is a very engaged parent & an active participant in household care. We seek to do what needs to be done to serve each other, rather than just doing our "jobs".
    You guys are not "weird". :)