photo[1]Someone mentioned recently that I was potentially a Tiger Mom. That’s when I realized we have a Lion Dad situation around here.

So many of us now “co-parent” our children. We share the responsibilities of raising children with our spouse or partner. Although co-parenting usually describes parents separated or divorced who take turns raising children, I think “co-parenting” describes many of us living together while raising children, too. In our home everything from feeding to toilet training, preschool pick-ups to soccer sign-up, and bathing to bedtime routines are divided and diced. The dance is typically elaborate and often it can be very messy. Sometimes it makes no sense how we split the tasks and of course sometimes we mess up– both forgetting something that needs to be done. I often feel like we’re always the last ones signing up for parent conference or preschool home visits–we just aren’t entirely always on top of our game! I know you know what I mean—so many of us divvy up the tasks necessary in raising children these days I’d suggest this co-parenting is just a part of modern parenting. A tango of sorts.

So it’s awkward at times that women, particularly those of us who work outside the home, are the key go-to or point person for outside institutions, families, and sports teams when someone tries to reach in and coordinate with us. I often feel the world is behind the times.

On The Tiger Mom Or The Lion Dad

I sometimes get credit for things my husband does (finding the correct shin guards, remembering to practice spelling words, or organizing the play date). I’m certain this goes both ways. I think a good partnership is one where we can trade off on the heavy lifting and function in partnership. Yet I can’t help feeling judged when it’s not me at a certain activity. I do think culturally we expect mothers to be present more than we expect fathers in our childrens’ activities. I don’t think men typically describe feeling judged in this way but I hear my women friends say this repeatedly when missing out on an activity. I think in 2013 it’s still a challenge for women to be committed to our children and committed to work and feel good about it.

So it’s funny that I’d get the “credit” for our over-enrolled son. Recently at a sporting event I was lamenting the realities of our very busy first-grader. Although he’s holding up well and delighted to be busy this fall (or over-subscribed/over-enrolled), I am always angling to downshift and have less extracurricular activities for him. I really believe in the value of unstructured play. “He’s only 6 for heavens sake,” I say. I’ve wanted to restrict activities this fall to one sport and one other activity outside of school. Our six year-old, on the other hand was interested in more (soccer, running team, tennis, etc). My husband is a good listener and got him all signed up for everything.

So while on the sideline when mentioning my overwhelm with his 2 soccer teams, his school cross-country team, and his recent enrollment in piano lessons, another parent voiced up, “You’re such a Tiger Mom.” And that’s when I realized that we’ve got much more of a Lion Dad situation around here. I’ve thought more and more about my own parenting style over the past few years and I do know one thing: as I said back in 2011, I’m no Tiger Mom.

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Anyone else living with a Lion Dad? Who does the pushing for more and more activities in your family? And really, just what do you think really constitutes over-enrolled for young children? I’m of the mind that it’s highly individual depending on a child’s response to their setting and opportunities but would love to hear your thoughts. Really like how Kids’ Health says it:

Will you have time to eat, sleep, and relax? Everyone needs downtime. If an activity adds lots of stress to your life, it’s not for you