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Our Shared-Parenting Experience

The CBE blogsite, the Scroll, is currently running a post on the subject of parenting addressing the issue of parenting jointly, or sharing parenting according to gifting and need as opposed to gender stereotypes. While my wife and I are thoroughly committed to Biblical equality and an equitable sharing of both the parenting responsibility and workload we generally fall into the gendered stereotypical roles. What I mean by that is, I as the husband generally do all of the outside stuff, including maintenance on the car, home repairs and gardens while Liz handles all of the inside work, like grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry and house cleaning. There are certainly times when we cross over these areas of responsibility but by and large we have followed this more ordinarily accepted, or structured way of doing things. For us it wasn't a matter of who would do what but how we were culturally conditioned to apportion tasks and the natural inclinations and skills that we had each acquired in our preparation for marriage and parenting. Imust add that from the very beginning of our marriage Liz, having had a banking background was the natural choice to handle our finances but we always discuss everything and agree to all purchases.

Because our children are married adults and have children of their own we are no longer parenting in that sense but what we modeled, in their formative years, they will have taken into their own parenting experience. In some measure it will be further shaped or modified by the family life of their spouse so it has been interesting to take note of their respective journeys. Our oldest son is a tradesman and is the typical man about the house kind of guy who can turn his hand to anything domestically and generally takes care of all of the outside stuff. The fact that his wife has worked throughout their married life has necessitated him being able to work, when required, inside the home, while his wife has never needed to do the outside work, apart from helping with home improvements, like house-painting. They have always both shared responsibility in the raising of the children and joint decision making. At the same time they are modern, independent people. By the way, they have 2 teenage children, a girl and a boy, who are both great kids.


Our second son married a girl who was equally at home with an electric drill, hammer and screwdriver as she was with a cooking pot. They have shared parenting from day dot and my daughter in law, until recently, was the handy-person of the piece. At one point in their parenting journey she worked full-time in her profession as a veterinary nurse and our son was a house Dad. That was a valuable time for him because now that he is back in full-time ministry the demands on his time take him away from the home frequently and occupy a lot of head space. You would certainly describe them as joint parenting according to their gifts and availability but the bulk of the time involvement and shaping the children's (3 active,but very different boys) lives falls to the Mum. They are certainly not in conflict with what they witnessed in our home as children and young adults.


Number four married son also has 3 children (1 girl and 2 boys) and is married to a very supportive and capable wife. He too is in ministry but chooses to work part-time so that he is more available to build into the children's lives. His wife time shares by working part-time too so that they are able to both be as fully present as possible for their children. The children are very well disciplined, balanced and respectful of adults and we think that is directly related to the positive, considerate and consistent way that they are parented. The children of both families are a delight to be around which makes our grand-parenting very enjoyable. As grandparents we like to see as much of the children as possible, even though we are quite a distance away, so that we can develop healthy memories. At this time in their young lives they think that Grandma and Grandpa are OK.


Sadly our third son has experienced a painful broken relationship. He partnered with the widow of a friend who already had 5 children by that previous relationship. Even though he was like a father to the 4 girls and 1 boy in the end the relationship soured and he came away from that very disillusioned and distrustful of women. The lady in that instance had very little positive parenting and was unable to contribute to the relationship. In the end she reverted to the kinds of behaviours that were evident in her own dysfunctional home life and sadly some of her children are repeating that life experience by making very bad life choices. That son is presently back at home with us because he invested everything in the relationship and returned home with nothing. Throughout the whole experience Liz and I have remained confident in God and have continued to live our lives before the family in a way that honours God and encourages both children and grandchildren to want to walk in His ways.


 

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