Katherine Conaway
Nov 25, 2017 · 2 min read

I appreciate your response & reflection on your own family.

However, I wasn’t claiming that this was typical or normal because of my personal experience— but because of the article I quoted and other research I’ve read on relationship dynamics and women’s roles at home & in society.

The reflection on my family was simply a tool for me to evaluate how that research parallels my own experience.

And, actually, both my parents appreciated each other and taught us to — even and especially after their divorce. Though they were likely hurt by and frustrated by the situation and ex-partner, they always made an effort to speak well of the other’s parenting efforts and admirable qualities. They recognized how much that mattered & how much we’d absorb their perspectives about the other parent.

I would say my parents tried far more than average to have a fair partnership, even when separated, and they both hold pretty liberal views of women (likely even more so after having two daughters).

Which is why I tried to take a more honest and critical look back at their roles and dynamic — because in spite of all of their open-mindedness and efforts towards equality, I can recognize that it probably wasn’t actually as fair as they wanted it to be. It’s very hard to escape cultural and societal expectations.

As the article references, even when couples believe they have an equal distribution of work, it often is lopsided on the part of the mother doing more. But we (parents, children, society) tend not to notice it because it is so entrenched in our understanding of gender roles and family dynamics.

Study after study shows that, among heterosexual parents, fathers — even the youngest and most theoretically progressive among them — do not partake generously of the workload at home. Employed women partnered with employed men carry 65 percent of the family’s child-care responsibilities, a figure that has held steady since the turn of the century.

Empirical research shows that no domestic arrangement, not even one in which the mother works full time and the father is unemployed, results in child-care parity between heterosexual spouses.

I highly recommend the actual article I was responding to:

    Katherine Conaway

    Written by

    writer. traveler. storyteller. art nerd. digital nomad. remote year alum. @williamscollege alum. texan. new yorker. katherineconaway.com & modernworkpodcast.com