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The article described the experience of a Wisconsin woman with three young children and a job. The woman was more interested in paid sick leave, flexible hours, and the chance to work fewer hours than in career advancement. There was almost nothing in the story about how she and her husband, who also works, share their child-raising and other domestic duties.
"I've gotten a lot of questions about why the article focused on mothers and not fathers," Catherine Rampell, the author of the story, wrote on the NYT's blog last Wednesday.
Rampell noted that the article is the first in a series on work-life balance, and that a future story "is likely to focus on the barriers that men face in requesting things like paternity leave and flex time."
But what bothered me and others about the story wasn't that working fathers didn't get equal time. It's that in a two-parent family with young children, the way the parents share (or don't) child care and other domestic duties is key to understanding the family's work-life balance.
And so I appreciated the letter in this morning's NYT from David Cohen, an associate law professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I know Cohen and his wife aren't yet typical, but I hope we keep moving in this direction:
I read your article while working from home today instead of the office. I took a few breaks from writing to fix a toilet in our house and do some laundry. I worked from home so that I could pick up my children from the camp bus and my wife could work a full day. She’ll take off early tomorrow so I can work a full day.
After camp and work, she did some other home repairs while I cooked dinner with the children. We then swapped bath and book-reading duties to get the children to sleep. With the children asleep, I went grocery shopping while she folded laundry. I then finished the night off by making pizza dough for dinners over the next couple of weeks. . . .
Child-raising is not just a mom issue; it's an issue for everyone who has children. We will be on a path toward equality only when employers, newspapers, pundits, moms and dads realize that.