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Naming Assigning names to parent...

Posted Aug 24 2008 11:04pm


Assigning names to parenting lifestyles and work/life concepts is a media pastime of late. There's a whole vocabulary of words and acronyms now that didn't exist so long ago - SAHM/D, WAHP, helicopter parent, on-ramp, opt-out, and the like. Most of these need no explanation. But the real lives of parents often don't fit the definitions. What do you call a father who works compressed hours and cares for his kids alone two days a week? He's not a stay-at-home dad, and yet describing him by his worklife alone doesn't cut it.

This leads us to the issue of naming the lifestyle to which this website is devoted. 'Why even give it a name?', we've been asked. Does equal sharing really need its own moniker? It does. When something has a name, it can be explained quickly. It took us 521 words to describe the concept of equal sharing in our essay 'What is Equally Shared Parenting?' and 22 words to define the term. A name grounds something. Or, as friends of ours who practice equally shared parenting told us recently, having a name is a relief; it gives them a starting point for conversations, and an easy way to describe themselves.

Isn't it easier to talk about professional football rules, players, teams and lineups because the term 'pro football' exists? What about 'stock market', 'cable TV' or 'Microsoft Vista'?

In reviewing all the literature written about family models close to this lifestyle, several terms have been used - equal parenting, egalitarian (or egalitarian-leaning) marriage, shared parenting, etc. Until now, there has been no universal term to describe a lifestyle of equally sharing the family breadwinning, childraising, housework and recreation time. So, yes, we did have to name it - Equally Shared Parenting (ESP) will do for now.
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