Yesterday, my friend sent an article that resonated with her and with me as well. The article is called “Where do kids learn to undervalue women? From their parents.” Sounds harsh, right? Particularly for those of us who consider ourselves progressive and egalitarian at home. But, when I read the below paragraph, I thought, “Yes! This!”
“He’s great with the kids, and from friends I talk to, my husband does a lot more. But he’s on his phone or computer while I’m running around like a crazy person getting the kids’ stuff, doing the laundry. He has his coffee in the morning reading his phone while I’m packing lunches, getting our daughter’s clothes out, helping our son with his homework. He just sits there. He doesn’t do it on purpose. He has no awareness of what’s happening around him. I ask him about it and he gets defensive. It’s the same in the evening. He helps with dinner, but then I’m off to doing tooth-brushing and bedtime, and he’ll be sitting there on his phone.”
Like the woman above, I consider myself lucky to have a husband who shares many of the household responsibilities with me. But, it’s true that he gets far more leisure time than I do. When we get ready to go out, I am the one who is primarily responsible for getting not only myself ready, but also my son. When our son goes to bed, it’s usually me who is picking up the mess he left behind. It’s also usually a given that I buy and wrap the gifts for birthday parties and holidays, I send out the thank you cards, and I plan the vast majority of our sons meals and activities.
To be fair, there are tasks that my husband takes on that I never do. He does all the handy work around the house, he takes care of finances, he handled the logistics of our recent move, and he ALWAYS unclogs the drain (thanks, love!). But, consistent with the research, I still take on a larger share of the domestic responsibilities, if for no other reason than I carry the mental load of having to delegate the tasks I simply don’t have time to do.
It’s important to remember that our children are watching these dynamics. And not only are they watching, they’re absorbing. When children see mothers taking on the lion’s share of the work at home, they are likely to carry on that dynamic in their own homes. And until we have equality in the home, it will be incredibly difficult to reach true equality outside of it.
The article ends with recommendations about how we can start to make changes, including acknowledging that there is an imbalance and having men commit to engaging in more of the tasks that typically fall to women – packing the lunches, buying the gifts, planning the meals. It’s these small changes that will ultimately make a big difference.