Prof Teams with Her Partner for Parenting Guide
Marsha Kline Pruett, the
M. B. O’Connor Chaired Professor in the School for Social
Work, teamed with her husband, Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry
at the Yale School of Medicine, in authoring Partnership
Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently—Why It Helps
Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage, a book recently
published by .
The following is a publisher’s
with the Pruetts on Partnership Parenting.
If you could tell parents with
younger children three things that matter about co-parenting,
what would they be?
1. When co-parenting
begins early, it lasts a lifetime.
2. There is no more important
gift to your child than to give him/her the best of
each and both of you.
3. Co-parenting partnerships
maintain the marriage and enhance the quality of family
life for parents and children.
When will men ever do their
fair share of co-parenting?
Who says they aren’t? This is the problem. We define men’s roles in terms of what they do not
do, rather than the important ways they contribute to women’s and children’s
quality of life. Beyond a level mom and dad are comfortable with, it’s quality
of involvement, not quantity that matters.
How can partners be a real team
in the way you describe if he works outside the home a lot
and she stays home with the kids?
A team has different persons
playing different positions. The catcher is no less important
to the enterprise than is the pitcher or the outfielder.
The team work comes in understanding, valuing, expressing
appreciation for, and supporting the other person’s role.
Do kids really feel parented
by their dads, given that moms do most of the work emotionally
As Ellen Galinsky’s
national study has shown—and our clinical experience continuously indicates—children
do not bean count. Parents do. Children feel loved and parented by both parents
in spite of dad’s fewer hours of involvement if dad is attentive, playful, and “tuned
in” when he is there, and when Mom clearly values what he brings to the family.
What would you say to
moms who aren’t sure they want to let dads be equal partners
in parenting—those who think it’s the mother’s job?
It’s difficult to share the
delicious, if exhausting, responsibilities of parenting. But the benefits to
your child and to you far outweigh the feelings of doubt. You cannot hold onto
your children as tightly as you’d like if you want them to be successful, independent
human beings. So why not share at home first, with the guy who helped bring these
incredible kids into the world.
And what would you say
to dads who aren’t really
as involved as they think they are or would like to be?
You can always get involved
later, but you can’t make up the time you’ve lost. And you marriage will not
thrive in the same way if you aren’t involved. Women are drawn to men who are
affectionate and loving with their kids. The risk to your marriage and your children
of not being involved is far too expensive to leave it until you are a little
older, more stable financially, or feeling more settled. By then, it may not
matter to them as much.
What are the benefits to kids
of having mom and dad each doing the things they do best?
It is maximizing the gene pool.
Who wouldn’t want
to have the best of what their parents can offer, instead of an amalgam of the
best and worst? More specifically, fathers do not mother, and both kinds of parenting
bring specific benefits to kids. Mom makes the world an easier place to conquer,
more predictable, safer, and more approachable. Dad makes the world more exciting,
more surprising, and helps his children bear the frustrations and disappointments
of trying to conquer it. Together, these qualities help children face the world
as productive citizens with fortitude, readiness, awareness, and sensitivity.
Not to mention pride and confidence in what he or she has to offer.
confusing when parents aren’t consistent and on the same page?
Children can adapt
to inconsistency, especially if they understand how each
parent does things differently. Being on the same page—especially about the big ticket items (schooling, religion,
values, etc.)—is essential; that’s why this book helps parents get on the same
page in their own ways. Then the inconsistencies teach children to deal with
diversity and difference, without all the conflict engendered when parents aren’t
on the same page and are upset with each other.
Are you guys always on the same
Absolutely not. But we have
learned to raise the questions and problems when they occur,
to discuss them respectfully, to give each other room to
be different from ourselves and, when we’re really on our game, to laugh about them
and move on.
If your kids were to call in
right now, what would they have to say about the job you
They would say Dad does some
things better, Mom does other things better, they love both
of us, they are so glad we love each other, and that sometimes
we miss the boat. Then they’d giggle mischievously,
because they know we’re only human and they like to remind us to work together
when we forget. We like to think we taught them to think that way and to call
us on it.