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Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0674002098 ISBN-10: 0674002091 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (May 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674002091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674002098
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

The cheerful pun of the title is one of the liveliest moments in a tangled scrutiny of mothers and fathers who share parenting equally. This study of dual-earner couples with children was funded by the National Science Foundation in order to explore if, in fact, it was possible for working women to split equally with their partners the notorious ``second shift''the responsibility for childcare and household chores that comes after a full day at work. Deutsch (Psychology/Mt. Holyoke Coll.) and her team initially interviewed 429 couples and ended up with 44 who met the criteria for parents who shared equally (5050) or nearly equally (6040), plus a group of couples who worked alternating shifts and a third group whose division of labor was unequal (7525) with the burden usually falling on the mother. Most of the couples were white, educated, and middle class; the alternating shift group fell into the blue-collar category. The emphasis was not on who did the dishes or even on equal time with the children, but on whether the responsibility was truly divided. That includes the ``mental work'' of managing the routine, like keeping track of children's schedules or noticing that baby needs new shoes. It will come as no surprise that Deutsch found breaking out of traditional gender roles was extremely difficult for her subjects. She tries to tease out the issues involved, including the demands of biology (breast feeding, for instance), men's reluctance to take on a ``feminine'' role, women's reluctance to give up the status of mother, the lack of role models. Jobs are a stumbling block. ``Careers are [still] designed for men'' who have wives at home to support them, says Deutsch. Equal parenting demands ``family careers,'' with shorter hours, more flexibility for family emergencies and plenty of compromise by both parents regarding ambition and direction. A motley profusion of anecdotes and quotes offers little support for the author's lame if hopeful conclusion: ``Why not equality?'' -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Deutsch interviewed 150 dual-earner couples to see how they divvied up child rearing. What she discovered is encouraging. Couples who want to share parenting fifty-fifty can find ways to do so...Deutsch offers a menu of new templates for parenting, forged by couples in her study who fought for equality and won unexpected rewards in the balance." (Megan Rutherford Time)

Deutsch's book is a clear and striking example of the importance of qualitative analysis. Through a series of extensive interviews with parents, Deutsch provides us with poignant and honest narratives of parents struggling with how to make equality happen in their daily lives. Each of the eleven chapters relies on interviews to both elucidate and clarify, but it is also these interviews that engage the reader from start to end and allow for a glimpse into the hearts and psyches of the parents. (Patricia Owen-Smith National Women's Studies Association Journal)

Ten years after delving into the lives of 150 middle class and blue-collar couples, Deutsch has written a book that shatters some popular myths. Halving It All examines various ways couples in the study chose to handle work, parenting, and home. (Diane E. Lewis Boston Sunday Globe)

Deutsch interviewed 150 dual-earner couples, and using real-people examples, shows how equality can exist without magic. By making rational choices, defining and dividing family work, and through a little unbiased negotiating, families can come together as a team instead of fighting it out in an imaginary ring. (New York Daily News)

I wanted a book on marriage development. I wanted something that said: Yes, a guy who can't boil water can share child care. Now there finally is such a book, though it's not one of those cheery tomes that says how wonderful it is to share domestic tasks with your husband. Halving It All is about being in the trenches with your spouse. It's about the day-in-day-out negotiation that goes into sharing child care, the challenges and benefits of such arrangements, and why so many couples who set out to parent equally fail to do so...Halving It All is a breath of fresh air and, for a snoop like myself who is interested in other peoples' marriages, great reading. (Jennifer Bingham Hull, Salon Online)

Using vivid quotations from interviews, Francine Deutsch's new book Halving it All tells how many couples of all economic backgrounds and political viewpoints have found ways to divide household labor equally. (Carolyn Krouse Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly)

Deutsch's book is an interesting, detailed analysis of couples who share work and family responsibilities, the troubles they encounter in reaching and maintaining this balance, and the steps they've taken to overcome those troubles. Two particular strengths of this book are that Deutsch's sample consists of people from many different occupational levels and backgrounds and, unlike many qualitative studies, her work includes an analysis of parents who do not equally share work and family responsibilities...This is a very well written, methodologically strong, yet readable analysis of a very real social issue today: equal parenting. (L. Wolfer Choice)

Here we have a refreshing and stimulating change from the many books which bemoan the unequal division of labour in male and female parenting, breadwinning and home-managing. Deutsch, an American professor of psychology, decided to look on the brighter side, search out couples who had actively chosen equally shared parenting and struggled to make it work, and see what, if any, universal lessons could be learned from their varied experiences...Deutsch makes a strong case that we all have more choice than we think....If you have clients dissatisfied with the pattern their parenting takes but say, 'We can't change things because...' (or if you have ever resigned yourself to the status quo with such a thought), this book could open up some liberating possibilities. (Mica Rowanson The Therapist)

This well-constructed text is the result of an equally well-constructed research project funded by the National Science Foundation...Anyone interested in family life will be fascinated with the stories of how families work out the division of labor at home. (Mary Katherine O'Connor Science Books and Films)

If 'having it all'--ie work and motherhood--has lost its appeal, take heart from Francine Deutsch's book. It's about couples who share everything--from the school run to cleaning the hamster's cage. (Essentials)

Even in these supposedly liberated times, very few couples--even when both work full-time outside the home--share equally in the care of their children. Deutsch set out to study those anomalous few who do so, in order to discover how 'our models for tomorrow' make equal parenting (and by extension, equal cooking, cleaning and laundering) work...[Deutsch] makes some profound observations on modern family life and sounds a ringing cry for making changes. (Publishers Weekly)

For many years, we treated the frantic juggling of dual-career couples as simply the consequence of their personal choices. But the realities of today's economy have made dual careers essential, not optional, for virtually all families. Halving it All is an essential guidebook for the world of shared parenting we all find ourselves in now. A must read. (Pat Schroeder, United States Congresswoman, Colorado, 1972-1996)

A pioneering account of gender equality in America today--when it works, when it doesn't, and how to make the difference. Must reading for anyone who is trying to share parenting equally. I couldn't put it down. (Juliet Schor, author of The Overworked American)

Deutsch's beautifully crafted book sweeps the reader along, making clear to expert and novice alike the findings of her important and rigorous study of current parenting. Her demonstration of how ordinary mothers and fathers can and do share equally their parenting duties is bound to exert a profound influence on conversations about childcare and about gender relations throughout the classrooms, the living rooms, and the boardrooms of contemporary America. (Faye J. Crosby, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, author of Juggling: The Unexpected Advantages of Balancing Career and Home for Women and Their Families)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent, pleasureable book by a sociologist/ mom who has taken on the task of trying to find the holy grail of truly shared parenting. The author is clearly following in the path blazed by The Second Shift, and examines what it means to be a co-parent by looking at case studies. These case studies are interesting peeks at families and how they function or don't.The detail is excellent.
Wonderfully, she includes household management as part of what it means to be a co-parent. So housework is a big part of this story. My only complaint about this book is that it seemed to be more about housework than about actual parenting. There is very little info on typical parenting issues --it's really about the spouses and their relationship.
The funny part is her catalog of male excuses for not pitching in--the Harvard lawyer who claims incompetence when it comes to laundry or dressing a five-year old. The excuse of lower standards, the brick wall, etc. All very familiar. Women also have excuses. Her gentle jibes will make you think twice about jumping in to clean something up because the man of the house doesn't do it "good enough."
The scary part is how rare co-parenting is and how incredibly hard it is to achieve. But she does offer some good ideas on how to start thinking about it practically.
This book will depress you if you think you've actually made a choice being an SAH mom because, maybe, you haven't really. She really puts the squeeze on the kind of thinking women do in these situations. You may not like this.
It's a valuable read if you want to find ways to enhance cooperation in your family. It's valuable, too, if you want to enahnce the presence of each parent in your child's life, and offer better role models.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D in CA on August 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is enormously important. My wife and I have not had children yet ourselves, and coming upon this book struck me as extraordinarily fortunate, as it lays out very clearly the pitfalls we will encounter in our pursuit of a fair distribution of labor. We loved the book so much that we went back and bought four more copies to give away to our pregnant friends.
Deutsch's meditations on the extensive interviews she did with 150 couples are remarkable, expecially her exposure of the inconsistencies and double standards that we all take for granted. It has been enormously satisfying reading, not just for the well-executed analyses, but also because her arguments are so relevant to daily life. All that research, all the connections she makes, will save us a lot of trial and error and confusion, like a map through a minefield.
I've never reviewed a book on Amazon before, despite being a customer for several years. I just think this book needs to be read by everyone contemplating raising kids (while retaining sanity) today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book - finished it in a few days (including footnotes) and have been recommending it (via the information highway) to everyone I know. It is extremely well written and should appeal to a diversified audience - not only working parents, but also anyone interested in examining the dynamics of family life in contemporary society, and the impact of family life on individual family members. Halving It All provides an engrossing and richly textured portrait of families in which child care is equally shared. The author allows her subjects to speak for themselves, while skillfully parsing out and presenting the issues and paradoxes which are at play in the process of "halving it all." The result is a rare combination: a book which is enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring. I was struck by the way it illuminated the issue of fairness and equity in examining gendered roles and relationships in the context of the family. It seems to me there are remarkably few treatments of this subject which manage to be so even handed yet forthright in setting out a position. I hope this book will be read and discussed by parents, as well as utilized by academics in a variety of disciplinary approaches to the family and gender studies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a person who generally reads sociological studies--mostly because the academic jargon does not seem reader-friendly. But Halving it All is a book I literally could not put down. I found the couples interesting, the problems realistic, and the commentary very helpful in understanding just why what seems an easy concept (equal parenting) is so tricky. A concept like unequal "economy of gratitude" (i.e., men get more points for doing domestic labor than women) really helped me understand something about the struggles in my own marriage--this is just one example. What I most appreciated was that this author did not have a "one-size-fits-all" approach for equal parenting. This is an area where there are no easy answers, but reading this book made me believe that equally parenting is not an impossible dream.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. It provides concrete examples of how real people everyday are balancing the demands of work and child raising. It underscores the reality that if you want to have an "equal" relationship with your spouse, both of you have to make sacrifices. This book proves that shared parenting is possible. Halving it All might be threatening to some because it shows that shared parenting works when both parents take their parenting role seriously and don't look to their employers or government to solve the family/work dilema.This book offers helpful insights and affirmation for those already involved in shared parenting relationships and inspiration to those who desire more equality in their parenting/family situation. This book may not sit well with spouses who are not interested in doing their fair share since it handily reveals that shared parenting is indeed possible through detailed examples of many couples who are making it work.
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