Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sober and good quality guide, March 19, 2010
This review is from: Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently--Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage (Paperback)
I was struck in reading this book by how clear, direct, and sober it is about the importance of getting fathers engaged in co-parenting, and I could not agree more. From my own experience, and watching that of my niece and nephew, it seems very clear to me that children are very aware of whether their fathers seem to have wanted them or not, and wanted children end up leading dramatically more successful lives than those who feel unwanted. (I do not have children and am thinking about it if I can find a good father.) I am appalled when women friends of mine reveal that they had children without the father really wanting children (which seems to happen much more often than I would have expected) - of course, the man's choice to have a child when he did not want one is very much part of this problem, and it is not just the mother's choice and fault.

As the Pruetts point out, it is much easier to tackle these issues before the baby is born than after you are divorced. The soberness of their advice I found helpful, taking the gloss off the sometimes romanticized views that many people express about having children.

The book offers good, down-to-Earth advice that I imagine is helpful to men who are unaccustomed to childcare. And I liked how they reiterate that women need to learn these skills as well. Just having a womb and breasts is not enough.

Of the advice, I was glad to see the repeated references throughout the book to the importance of both the mother and father being sensitive to the child's needs and the reference in the divorce section to how one parent should handle it if the other is insensitive (empowering the child to assert him/herself with the insensitive parent, including ways he/she can communicate that). I hope not to marry an insensitive partner and not to be that myself, but I think it is good to recognize how to respect your child's relationship with the other parent and to empower him/her in dealing with it (how I wish my mother had done this with me, instead of expecting me to coddle my father).

The separate spheres approach of the 1950s and earlier, where the mother parents/nurtures and the father provides/rules, still seems to be in place in many homes. Having grown up in a home where I felt traumatized by my father's inability and unwillingness to respond to my needs, and my mothers' passivity, dissociation, and lack of agency or adult standing in the world, I would like to suggest to readers that this separate spheres approach does much more damage than you may realize. You may think you have more money this way, and perhaps you do (or perhaps you don't), but it has significant nonmonetary costs for your child, perhaps even rendering the whole parenting project completely ineffective when your child does not get a good start in life.
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