The best way to have it all—both a full family life and a career—is to halve it all. That’s the message of Francine Deutsch’s refreshing and humane book, based on extensive interviews with a wide range of couples. Deutsch casts a skeptical eye on the grim story of inequality that has been told since women found themselves working a second shift at home. She brings good news: equality based on shared parenting is possible, and it is emerging all around us. Some white-collar fathers achieve as well as talk about equality, and some blue-collar parents work alternate shifts to ensure that one parent can always be with the children.
Using vivid quotations from her interviews, Deutsch tells the story of couples who share parenting equally, and some who don’t. The differences between the groups are not in politics, education, or class, but in the way they negotiate the large and small issues—from whose paid job is “important” to who applies the sunscreen. With the majority of mothers in the workforce, parents today have to find ways of sharing the work at home. Rigid ideas of “good mothers” and “good fathers,” Deutsch argues, can be transformed into a more flexible reality: the good parent.
Halving It All takes the discussion beyond shrill ideological arguments about working mothers and absent fathers. Deutsch shows how, with the best of intentions, people perpetuate inequalities and injustices on the home front, but also, and more important, how they can devise more equal arrangements, out of explicit principles, or simply out of fairness and love.