Three years ago, my wife, Anne-Marie Slaughter, wrote in these pages about how difficult it remains for women to “have it all”—a family and a career. She’d recently left a high-powered job in Washington, D.C., to return to our home in Princeton, New Jersey, where I had been acting as lead parent to our children. Somewhat ironically, her article on work-life balance led her to increased prominence on the national stage, which reinforced my role as the lead parent of our two sons—a role I continue to fill today.
Here is the other half of our family’s story.
Anne-Marie and I went to college just as female graduates were beginning to outnumber their male counterparts, and, in many cases, to outperform them as well. Accordingly, my attitude toward my wife differed from my father’s stance toward my mother. I never doubted for a moment that her prospects were at least equal to my own. Neither did she.
We assumed from the start that we would approach child-rearing as “co-parents,” either equitably sharing duties or taking turns being the lead parent. At first, this worked out. Family-friendly terms of employment benefited us from the start. The universities where we have spent most of our careers—when our sons were born, we both taught at Harvard; later we moved to Princeton—resemble little Scandinavias in the United States, with policies most Americans can only dream of: maternity and paternity leave, flexible work schedules, generous vacation time, and long-term job security. We were also wealthy enough to afford high-quality day care and, once our children were in school, a housekeeper.