The world is an imperfect place. Some would describe an ideal family as one in which a mature man and a mature woman who love each other each have satisfying work, plentiful self-confidence, adequate financial means to live comfortably and save for future needs, supportive friends and kin nearby, consistent and high-quality child care arrangements, and plentiful leisure time and activities. Unfortunately few of us have experienced this ideal, either as children or as parents. Reality is about making the best of what we have, and parenting starts with creating a safe and supportive family environment in which children can grow and thrive. There are many means to that end.

The traditional stereotype of a mother at home full time with primary responsibility for home and children and a father employed outside the home and with few primary responsibilities at home no longer serves us well. Over half of married...

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