Monday, October 28, 2019

The Manager Mom Epidemic: Book Review

Have you heard of emotional labour?

It is the invisible labour done mostly by women to manage a family and household. It goes beyond just the physical tasks of cooking, cleaning, etc. and involves the planning involved in making meals, scheduling appointments, dealing with homework, registering kids for camp, activities, etc.

Even in heterosexual couple-led households where men do a fair share of the housework, it is most often the women who do most, if not all, of the emotional labour.

I am very lucky in that this is not the case in our household. Adam is more involved in the emotional labour of caring for our children and household than any other man I know, and probably takes on more than I do. But this is not the case for most of my friends nor my clients, and it can be a huge source of stress, frustration and resentment for women.

The Manager Mom Epidemic, is a book that addresses the inordinate share of emotional labour women shoulder at home. I have to admit, I was quite surprised that the book is written by a man, clinical psychologist and author, Thomas W. Phelan. But having spent many years counselling parents and families, Phelan has a very clear understanding of the dilemma.

In Part I of the book, Phelan defines the problem and explains why it is so prevalent. In Part II, Phelan explains the various tools that can be used to rectify the problem in a household. In Part III, the author uses a number of case studies to illustrate how particular challenges can be solved, and Part IV is prevention strategies for those couples who have not yet developed the inequitable division of labour.

The book is easy to read and extremely detailed in its advice on how to implement change. Even for a household like ours, there was useful information. Adam and I are definitely guilty of 'automatic talking', which is Phelan's name for nagging. Apparently nagging children does not at all work to motivate them to listen. Yeah, pretty much, right? But most of us parents do it anyways. Phelan explains why it doesn't work and how it becomes a vicious cycle of frustration between parents and children, and provides alternative ways to engage children in domestic chores.

One of the big arguments Phelan makes is that the reason why parents nowadays feel so stressed out and 'busy' is because we coddle our children and do not get them to take more responsibility for themselves. Yup, definitely true.

So do I recommend this book? Absolutely!! Phelan even provides strategies for women who's husband's are resistant to taking on more of the load and how to communicate to them. Like I said, he really seems to get it!

Disclosure: I was asked to review this book but all opinions on this blog are my own.

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