Shared Parenting

If you read this blog, or any of my books, it’s obvious by now that I’m a big fan of dads handling as many parenting duties as possible. Those everyday activities build your relationships with your children and family.

Guys like to measure things and have concrete evidence about what’s happening. In recent years, parents and advocates developed the ideas of equally shared parenting (ESP) and co-parenting--along with tools to help you figure out how you’re dividing up your obligations and opportunities for child-rearing, career, self-care, and other important things.

Co-parenting is a term you often hear in or around family court, lawyers’ offices, and social services. It usually describes an agreement between divorced or separated parents that list the child-rearing and child support responsibilities for each adult.

Equally shared parenting is a concept developed by forward-thinking parents like Marc and Amy Vachon, authors of the book Equally Shared Parenting ( The Vachons describe ESP as a way of dividing home, relationship, and work duties equally between parents. Ideally, this prevents either adult from feeling shortchanged or like they are the “other” parent.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of overlap between co-parenting’s philosophy and tools and those of ESP.

Both concepts start from the belief that both Dad and Mom need to suit up and show up for responsible parenting, because the involvement of both parents helps the child. Shared parenting requires clear communication, so both of you know your joint and individual goals, styles, and strengths.

Sharing the parenting is the smartest and most rewarding way to go as a dad. Just remember the Vachon's motto: "Half the work, and all the fun!"

Adapted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being a New Dad (Complete Idiot's Guides by Joe Kelly, copyright 2013 Alpha Books and used by permission.

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