To the husbands who step up as equal parents, thank you

It’s no secret that most women carry an uneven load in their households. 

Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood research revealed that even when they are primary breadwinners, most mothers still provide the majority of childcare and household work.

Other studies have shown that men get way more leisure time than women.

And even though dads spend more time caring for their children than previous generations, it’s clear that the bar our culture sets for many dads is shamefully low. They’re praised for doing basic tasks, celebrated for “babysitting” (their own kids) and told that they’re not really the “primary” or “default” parent. 

Given this backdrop of such unequal parenting for so many women, it’s easy to overlook the men in our midst who are actually doing the work and stepping up as equal partners. And I am lucky enough to be married to one of them. 

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Coming from different family backgrounds, his more traditional, mine more progressive, my husband and I had conversations from Day 1 about gender equality, partnership and our vision of what a healthy marriage looked like for us. We’ve gotten out of balance. We’ve fallen into traditional gender roles that felt uncomfortable and unwanted; and we’ve corrected that. Our approach is a blended, built-by-us version of modern marriage, and over the years it has continued to evolve. But what has stayed the same is a deep and lasting respect and appreciation for one another, and a desire we each have for our partner to thrive in every aspect of their lives. 

I know it’s rare to have a husband who is an equal partner in all things parenting and partnership. It shouldn’t be unusual. (Even as I’m writing this, my husband is interrupting his work day to take our daughter to swim lessons, so that I can work uninterrupted today.) 

It seems that the work that awesome dads do can sometimes be invisible, hidden behind a culture still experiencing so much gender inequality. I know my husband feels lonely and unincluded in conversations about working parenthood or striking up friendships on the playground. But the “good ones’ are out there, and they deserve more recognition.

I’d also like to be clear that “equal” does not always mean “the exact same.” My husband cannot get pregnant. His career is different than mine. He has different interests than me in life. But we are equal in importance to one another, and honor the seasons as our needs and demands ebb and flow. We aim to share the load of parenting in equal measure, allowing each of us, and our kids, to flourish. Some seasons he can take on a heavier load; other times I can. We aim for an equality that comes down to a deep mutual respect, not one that is always exactly 50-50.

To the husbands who respect their wives as truly equal: Thank you for making the dream possible. 

Thank you for not making my pregnancy something I endure alone and finding every possible way to walk along the experience beside me. 

Thank you for taking the paternity leave every single time. 

Thank you for encouraging me to hire a doula, call the lactation counselor and hire a babysitter to help with our toddler while I recovered postpartum.

Thank you for committing to parenting as equals even as our lives continue to evolve.

Thank you for shifting your job priorities to make space for mine. 

Thank you for moving a city that was better for my career. 

Thank you for supporting me in my desire to go to grad school. 

Thank you for taking on a more stable career so that I could have space to build my business. I hope to some day return the favor.

Thank you for doing the work of finding a babysitter for our family and not assuming that childcare is my responsibility.

Thank you for getting curious about our children’s educations and not default to thinking that school decisions are a mom’s job.  

Thank you for reading parenting books alongside me and talking about how we can continue to grow as a family.

Thank you for going to therapy to understand your triggers and for making space for self-care to heal and work on them.

Thank you for hyping me up on hard days and celebrating together on the good days. 

Thank you for recognizing the way cultural gender norms and bias have crept into our marriage and helping to reorient us towards what works for our partnership.

Thank you for proudly talking about fatherhood at work when the working parents conversation centers on the experience of mothers, thus relegating moms to ‘default parent’ status.

Thank you recognizing that the year I spent full time at home watching kids wasn’t “taking a break.”

Thank you for setting up play dates with families from preschool and not presuming that was a wife’s job.

Thank you for noticing when I seem exhausted and offering me a break without me even needing to ask.

Thank you for suggesting we each get “time off” each week, it’s made a world of difference knowing that I don’t have to negotiate for regular time to recharge. 

Thank you for always being a partner in making difficult decisions, together. 

Thank you for noticing the work of maintaining a household and always taking the initiative to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

Thank you for being so open to growth and change. It can be difficult and lonely being the change generation, but our kids are so lucky to have you as a role model.

To the husbands, dads, boyfriends and male partners who are doing the heavy work of changing the paradigm around fatherhood: thank you. It may take a generation to see the full impact of the example you set, but I know our children will forever benefit from having a dad who really does “do it all.” 

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