Myth and Reality of Co-Parenting
One thing that almost everybody will have to deal with at least once in their lifetime is parenting. In parenting, both parents are needed to make the job easier on themselves, their marriage and their child. In the essay The Myth of Co-Parenting: How It Was Supposed to Be. How It Was. by Hope Edelman, Edelman tells her experience with co-parenting. Edelman, along with many women, initially believed that co-parenting was possible. She soon figured out, however, that it was not a realistic goal.
Some points that Edelman hits in the essay are the gender roles and societal expectations in parenting, being the nurturer versus being the provider, and how poor communication can ruin co-parenting. A major point that Edelman brings up in her writing are gender roles in parenting and what society expects each to do as a parent. Edelman says that coming into her parenthood she thought that if she contributed half of the families’ income, then her husband would contribute half of the housework and child caring (Edelman 284).
She says that she did not want to be the dominant parent in the house and wanted more of a “shared responsibility” instead of one parent doing all of the care-taking and household duties (Edelman 284). She also talks about her parents’ relationship and parenting when her and her siblings were young. She says that her mother always seemed to do everything around the house, while her father only went to work, came home and sat around (Edelman 284). Her father did provide the families’ income; however, Edelman believes her father should’ve done a little more to help around the house (Edelman 285).
Edelman also says that whenever her mother passed away the household duties never were done how they used to be and the house was just different (Edelman 285). After seeing this Edelman told herself that she didn’t want the same relationship her parents had (Edelman 285). Edelman says later that women start with huge expectations for sharing the job of parenting but almost always end up doing the majority of parental duties, which is common in society still today (Edelman 285). Another point that Edelman touches on, is the concept of being the nurturer versus being the provider of the family.
This topic really ties into the previous point of gender roles and societal expectations, in that society expects the father to be the provider while the mother is generally looked at as a nurturer. Edelman’s story of her parents and the roles they played as parents when she was young attests to this statement. Although Edelman wanted so badly to achieve her aspirations of co-parenting, with the hours that her husband John worked, however, it was nearly impossible. Soon Edelman accepted the role of nurturer while John was the provider until his company was off the ground and stabilized (Edelman 289).
A final point that Edelman touches on is how poor communication made things much more difficult to achieve successful co-parenting. Edelman says that her husband was hardly ever at home, and that one week he logged unofficially ninety-two hours of work (Edelman 283). The way Edelman puts it is that, “There was no time together for anything other than the most pragmatic exchanges” (Edelman 286). She said that when her husband got home from work the first thing she did was jump up with something to approve, sign, or examine (Edelman 286).
This compacted conversation Hope and John were having on a nightly basis was not healthy for them at all. Edelman says that she was mostly mad at John because he never said exactly what was involved when starting his own company (Edelman 287). This anger translated into regret for Hope, saying that she would have never seen herself picking up that much household slack before her and John were married (Edelman 287). This lack of communication kept snowballing until they just stopped arguing in front of each other, and instead started taking small jabs at each other that started to add up after a while (Edelman 287).
The jabs included things like buying their daughter something the other didn’t want them to have, or not doing a task the other one asked them to do, small things that added on and after a while (Edelman 288). Eventually, however, John’s company stabilized and with that came fewer hours John needed to work, and with that came the stability of their household and marriage (Edelman 289). Edelman says that it has taken a lot for her to give up her dream of co-parenting, but that she has learned to live with the imbalance and inequality of duties in their household (Edelman 289).
Edelman makes some great points throughout her essay and while I do agree with most of them, I disagree with her stance on gender roles. Edelman says that she wanted to achieve a “shared responsibility” in her household, that way the husband and wife would do the same amount of household duties while keeping their full time jobs. I disagree with her view of this; I believe that if the husband is the one working extended hours during a week, trying to provide for his family, then the wife shouldn’t feel angered or annoyed at having to pick up the extra slack around the house.
The wife is generally the one in the household who is known for being the care-taker, the cleaner, the cook, etc. The husband is generally looked at as the provider for the family, the head of the household, the authority figure, and it has always been that way. I understand there are circumstances where the husband can’t find work, or they get let go and the wife has to help out. In that case, while the husband was home and the wife at work, the husband should help out around the house and pick up the motherly responsibilities.
What I am trying to say is that it really doesn’t matter who does exactly what in parenting, as long as the child is taken care of, the bills are paid, and everyone is happy, then each parent has done their responsibility. The second point that Edelman hits on is the nurturer and provider topic. This topic really goes hand-in-hand with what was previously stated because society generally sees your role as a parent before you even have a child. They see the mother as the nurturer and the father as the provider.
I agree with society on this topic and disagree with Edelman, who says that there should be an even distribution of the two. Like what was stated earlier I believe that the father should do his job of working to provide for the well-being of his family, while the mother raises her children and takes care of the household. The final point that is made in Edelman’s essay is that poor communication made things more difficult than they were, and that good communication would’ve probably helped.
She says that John was out of the house so much that they only talked to each other for a few minutes each night and that it eventually got to the point that they didn’t even have time to argue with each other. This is a serious lack of good communication and it is toxic to a relationship. I believe that the most successful relationships are those that the spouses can communicate openly and easily with one another. I agree with Edelman that their poor communication hurt their relationship, as it does to any relationship, but it can be fixed over time as it was in John and Hope’s case.
Edelman’s essay is a classic example of someone having high expectations, the expectations getting brought down to reality, and then the person having to cope with the reality now. She was living under a false assumption that co-parenting would be easily reached and maintained. When she realized it wasn’t going to work out she then tried to force it more, before finally giving in and living with the imbalance. She has found something more important than attaining a goal of co-parenting, or her husband John getting rich, she has found that her child’s happiness and raising her daughter no matter what is most important.
I strongly believe that no matter what obstacles parents face, they should put their child’s happiness before anything. Parenting is not always easy, as you see here in Edelman’s essay. There are many different ways to parent a child, however; however one thing shouldn’t be different. No child has the right to not be happy and the parents should do everything to make sure that they are happy.