In august we have been focusing on gender equality and with a variety of articles on the subject. Today we are launching a new series of interviews where we talk to parents about – yes, you guessed right – equal parenting. First in our series are Sarah and Jonathan Jackson, who run a successful architectural and design agency called WSDIA together in Brooklyn, New York. They live in the Bushwick area with their son Asa Lu, who is now 2.5 years old. We asked them some questions about gender equality.
What does equality mean to you?
Jonathan: For us, equality means everything. From our respective perspectives, such as women and black people in today’s US, we have perceived how our society and our culture can be unfair, fixed to stereotypes and deep oppression. Equality opens up the soul for self-esteem, for choices and for happiness.
Has being a parent meant some challenges for you when it comes to gender equality? Or did it make anything easier?
Sarah: Before receiving Asa, we had equal responsibility for income and for housework. Once he came, and the biological attraction that involves breastfeeding in the first months became a factor in our lives, the roles shifted in a clear way. Jonathan became the one who was primarily responsible for our income, and I was suddenly staying at home more often. It took a long time to accept these big changes – It was really hard to get used to it in the beginning. In some ways, as time passed, it became evident that it was an easier way of sharing our roles, energy and resources. Now, about 2.5 years later, the roles begin to level out again and gender equality begins to recur.
Have you discovered anything about yourself or gender equality since you received children?
Sarah: I thought I would like the gender equality we had in our relationship to remain exactly as it was before we had children. I thought I would like to return to work a lot faster. But I noticed that I missed Asa and the time with him. He became my ultimate priority and my job ended up in the background. I thought that the male and female role would be or at least could be totally equal. Now I’m not so sure, at least not in my case and I’m totally fine with it.
Have you actively done anything to work on the gender equality in your relationship since you had children?
Jonathan: One thing is that we both try to take care of ourselves. We take time for ourselves without each other and without our child. Without bad conscience! And we make sure that we both contribute to our home and our future in genuine and meaningful ways.
Do you have any tips for prospective parents that they can do to have an equal and balanced family life?
Jonathan: Communicate. Talk to each other about the fact that roles are likely to change – even if it’s just temporarily – because it can be rough and inconvenient. Check on each other in between: parenthood is definitely a process and adjustments can and should happen!
Sarah: Work on the balance between yourselves. Understand that roles may feel different, even unfair sometimes and that it will be alright. If you communicate, you can even out the inequalities. Be honest with yourselves and what REALLY makes you happy, regardless of your cultural and societal expectations.