Academic journal article Family Relations

When Parents Disagree and What You Can Do about It (Rev. Ed.)

Academic journal article Family Relations

When Parents Disagree and What You Can Do about It (Rev. Ed.)

Article excerpt

R. Taffel and R. Israeloff. (2003). When Parents Disagree and What You Can Do About It (Rev. Ed.). New York: Guilford Press, 256 pp. Paperback ISBN: 1-57230-796-X, $16.95.

When Parents Disagree attempts to expose what the authors see as the basis for most conflict between parents: that men and women interpret children's behavior from different frames of reference. They suggest beginning steps to help parents who are embroiled in disagreements to achieve their common goal of raising their children successfully.

The first section, "The Endless List," is the central theme that the authors weave throughout examples and other topics. Even today, women perform the majority of hands-on activities and also are primarily the ones who feel responsible for children. Taffel and Israeloff uses The Endless List as a concept designed to capture the endless duties that women perform to keep the household moving and the children developing. They also use it as an exercise with parents to point out the continuing discrepancy between responsibilities of even the most progressive couples. When asked to write down everything that they do for one evening, women have substantially more activities regarding caring for the children, planning for upcoming events, and even directing husbands' involvement. This List creates tensions and misunderstandings more when men are not aware of the imbalance. However, the authors are careful to point out that although men may not be aware of the imbalance or may not readily volunteer to change it, women play a part in perpetuating their own List. Mothers may resist giving up control of tasks or be critical of fathers' efforts because they ultimately feel held accountable for the outcomes. Many parents and society in general still maintain the perception that women are responsible for their children, and men help out. When children are having problems, it reflects on the mother; when a task is not done correctly, the mother is responsible for fixing things. When Parents Disagree openly discusses how this paradigm underlies the tension and different perspectives on many issues.

In the second section, "Hot Spots for Women and Men," some common areas that generally are viewed differently by parents are tackled. …

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