Ugh, have you read the news? If you want your daughter to be a barrier-breaking dynamo with a skyrocketing career, Daddy better be rolling up his sleeves and scrubbing those toilets, ladies. According to a new study, “if you’re hoping your daughter will aspire to be a scientist, doctor or engineer, [Dads] may want to take up sweeping the floors, washing the dishes and doing the laundry.” Inferring, of course, that if Mom does it, daughters are doomed, I guess?
I won’t deny that, in many cases (mine included) domestic chores fall on the woman of the house. I can’t speak to how this works for gay couples, though. What then? In any case, I know that for both the women I know who work full time, and those who are stay-at-home parents, the most common complaint I hear is that they do the vast majority of the chores. And so, this study will be shared, and shared, and shared, because YAY! Here’s a great catch line to smack dads on the wrist and get them helping out around the house! Nothing like a bit of guilt to motivate.
But no. That’s not the real problem here.
I’m not a stay-at-home mother because I lack ambition. It isn’t my father’s fault (since I don’t think I ever saw him once clean our house) that I’m not a doctor or engineer. My husband not cleaning up after himself won’t affect my daughter’s chances of “success”. What total garbage research it is to simplify such a complicated dynamic like this.
I am the person who spends 95% of her time in this house. It stands to reason that the majority of the household jobs fall to me. I certainly expect that my husband picks up after himself and supports me and does work, too, but he isn’t asking me to make the money we spend — we’re a partnership, each doing different jobs to make sure the machine of our family life runs smoothly. And if that feels unfair, unjust or plain frustrating at any time, we sit down and discuss it. We are equals. This is what my children see.
My kids have chores and responsibilities, just as we do. We’re a team here, and I suspect that despite the fact that my husband is the one with the busy career and I’m the one at home, that my children are learning the value of work in whatever form, and building their own dreams. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m educated, I’m strong, and I hope my daughter finds her strengths too.
I know my daughter will be a “success”, and it has exactly NOTHING to do with who washes the floors. Which is to say that if my daughter or son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, or to be astronauts or actors, the only thing that matters to me is that they have a happy partnership with whomever they choose, and that’s that. That is success.
Husbands, if your partner needs your help around the house, it’s not because your daughters will be massive failures if you don’t lend a hand. It’s because being a stay-at-home parent is exhausting and once in awhile we all need some help. But hey Moms, let’s not guilt our partners using something like this. It does us no good at all to start placing blame for success/lack thereof based on chores.
If only it were that simple.