February 6, 2017 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
So, as I reported yesterday, Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan’s attack on fathers overlooks many pertinent facts in order to reach her conclusion that fathers need to do more parenting than they are. Nowhere does she consider the possibility that mothers do the bulk of the parenting because they want it that way. That of course is precisely what Dr. Catherine Hakim found in her analysis of data on how men and women in countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development use their time. Women do less paid work because they choose to do less paid work and the overwhelming reason is that they prefer to tend their children.
Anyone with even the vaguest ideas about men and women would realize that that’s what women have done for untold millennia. Those who are a bit better informed would realize that those untold millennia of human evolution have produced a female brain that is wired for childcare. Those with still better information would know that pregnancy and post-natal childcare produce hormones like oxytocin, prolactin, estradiol and cortisol that essentially mandate childcare in mothers. It’s how we got here as a species, after all.
Schoppe-Sullivan apparently knows none of those basics. Her assumption is that, but for layabout dads, moms would be joyfully toiling in corporate cubicles, glad to be rid of the little bundle of cells some call a child.
So, the question remains, why hasn’t fathers’ greater involvement substituted for mothers’ involvement, thus reducing the parenting burden on women?
What has happened is that middle-class families now follow the norm of “intensive parenting,” which dictates that parenting should be child-centered, guided by expert advice and costly in terms of time, money and emotional investment in order to produce the most successful child possible.
The only reason “the question remains” is that Schoppe-Sullivan is too ideologically dazed to look at the obvious answer: mothers still do more childcare because they want to be the primary parent. They’re wired that way. The assumption that, if dads just did more childcare, moms would do less has been shown to be false. Mothers don’t want to abandon their babies to fathers or to anyone else. To millennia of human beings, that was nothing but the obvious. Today, people like Schoppe-Sullivan can’t figure it out. This is progress?
Weirdly, the closest she gets to grasping the opposite comes here:
Mothers who feel intense pressure to invest heavily in their children may also be reluctant to give up control over parenting.
That’s Schoppe-Sullivan’s claim that the only reason mothers “invest heavily in the children” is that society and pop culture pressure them into doing so. To no one’s surprise, it’s the “woman as victim” card we see played pretty much whenever feminists find anything to complain about. The idea that mothers really do want to “invest heavily in their children” irrespective of societal pressure or indeed anything else never enters Schoppe-Sullivan’s mind. That such “societal pressure might reflect mothers’ preferences rather than contradicting them would be an anathema to her had she considered the possibility.
From merely ignorant, Schoppe-Sullivan moves on to being sneaky. She refers to her own research on how parents spend their time.
My research focuses on the sharing of parenting between mothers and fathers in dual-earner couples – a group that is most likely to hold gender egalitarian beliefs. In this group, successfully balancing work and family makes some degree of shared parenting necessary.
My research and that of others shows that even though significant progress has been made toward gender equality in parenting, more subtle inequalities remain. Many fathers – even those in the households most likely to have progressive views on parenting – have not achieved equality with mothers in key areas.
And what is that research? She never tells us, but in response to one of the comments at the end of the article she reveals that “our study focused on the first 9 months of parenthood.” In other words, she studied couples at a time when Mom is more likely than ever to take on the lion’s share of parenting, including breast-feeding. How many of the mothers she studied received maternity leave from their employers? How many fathers did? Needless to say, Schoppe-Sullivan’s “academic rigor” doesn’t require her to reveal such obvious facts.
Given that she’s apparently entirely ignorant of basic facts bearing directly on her chosen topic, it’s certainly no surprise that less obvious ones don’t occur to her. Not only do mothers sideline fathers in childcare, there are entirely reasonable motivations militating against father involvement. Not only does he not want to get on Mom’s bad side, but he may be well aware of the potential legal consequences of doing so. He may know the dangers that lie in wait for a dad whose wife decides to divorce him. He may know that 70% of divorces are filed by women and that they do so because they can be very confident of getting sole or primary custody of the children.
So any prudent father who’s informed about the facts of life post-divorce will tread lightly when he enters Mom’s territory, i.e. everything related to children and their care.
But naturally, Schoppe-Sullivan wouldn’t dream of standing for a second in a father’s shoes to see why he does what he does. No, just like Michelle Obama, Schoppe-Sullivan is content to tell men to simply “be better.” It’s a sensible point of view if your goal is to whine, denigrate men and change nothing, which looks to me to be exactly her agenda.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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