The gender gap

Should women put more into their relationship than their kids? Discuss.

Are parents who are too involved in their children’s lives actually damaging them? A new book, To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First seems to buck conventional wisdom by saying parents’ relationship rather than children should be the priority for happiness all round. I’m not convinced.
It sounds like the kind of thing a man with a couple of kids might write and indeed the author is a man. “Give me a bit of attention,” seems to be the subtext. Also, it all seems, as usual, very much directed at women since they are still the ones who are most involved in their kids’ lives. But is it women’s main job to go around making other people – children or partners – feel good on top of doing everything else? If men actually did more of the childcare/housework [and not in a competitive way every second Sunday], perhaps women might have a little bit more time to indulge them rather than falling asleep on them at circa 9.30pm. I know they do more than their fathers did and whoopee for that, but tradition [and the pay gap] still seems to dictate that women continue to do the major share of the home stuff. It would be interesting too to "unpack" the kind of childcare/housework chores men and women do. For men, I’d say swimming and fun stuff on the childcare front and maybe a bit of hoovering on the housework side…Of course, I may be totally out of touch.

The article I read on the Raise Happy Kids book cited Ayelet Waldman, a writer who is apparently quoted as saying she longs for research on parents “who love each other desperately, ardently and even more than they love their children”. I’m afraid I have possibly lived a sheltered life in that I have come across few examples of parents who love each other “desperately” after the first, ooh, two months. Day to day life is just not like that. While I would like to write that I spend all day at work, pining for my partner, aside from actually working my mind is clogged up with endless lists of things to do and I don’t mean Kumon classes [I think the article conflated being involved with your children, ie knowing them, and being the kind of parent who spends their whole life pushing their children to be high achievers]. Every day in winter is a struggle to get people who complain about various lurgies out of the house. I am including partners in this. Just yesterday, two of my children complained of sickness [one had complained of sickness all last week] and one had a sore ear. I then got a text from my partner saying he felt sick, with the coda “bowel cancer?”. He always thinks he is potentially at death’s door. It must be because he doesn’t get enough attention.

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