Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

Mom and Dad on Equal Footing

When I heard that my colleague Jill Hudson Neal was writing a Still Me column about how -- even today -- women wash the dishes while men sit and watch football at Thanksgiving, I rolled my eyes.

Yet again, these stereotypes surface that I simply don't see in my life. So, while that may be true in some -- even many -- families, here's an alternative dual-adult lifestyle that truly exists.

Most weeks my husband does the laundry. He clips coupons and goes grocery shopping. Most nights he cooks dinner. Each of us is as likely as the other to wash dirty dishes. We both pay the bills. I take care of most household repairs and the yard. Breakfast and lunch are mommy meals. Doctor's appointments and school functions usually rest with me, but always involve a conversation about who can better fit it into the day's work schedules. And lest you think it's just us being part of this newfangled generation, his father cooks, too. When Grammy and Zaydie come for a visit, the boys expect their grandfather to cook them breakfast instead of me. For the Thanksgivings that we host, we share the planning, cooking and cleaning duties.

And there's no reason to think five-year-old won't follow suit. In the car recently, he said he's going to be very busy when he grows up. He's going to need to take care of his kids and cook dinner for them and his wife along with the two other jobs he plans to hold.

Finally, when we are stuffed with turkey and the trimmings and the football games are on, we're both likely to curl up on the couch and root for our football teams.

What about you? How do responsibilities break down in your house?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 28, 2007; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Relationships
Previous: Getting With the Program | Next: Too Sick for School?


Wow. How can I get my husband to be more like yours??

Posted by: lulu | November 28, 2007 1:21 AM | Report abuse

I think this is more common than most people think. When both parents are working it becomes impossible for one person to do it all around the house. I see it with my parents all the time. My dad can't cook. However he does laundry and dishes. They do gardening and repairs together. Grocery shopping is done depending on who has more time. Even childcare responsibilities were split based on who had more time that day and could fit it into their schedule. When I was growing up , I was just as likely to call my father when I wasn't feeling well at school as my mother. I think the sharing of responsibilities just kept everyone sane. When I get married I hope to have a similar sharing of responsibilities in m household.

Posted by: arcanu | November 28, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

My husband considers himself a feminist but in our household I do a disproportionate share of the childcare, grocery shopping, housework, etc., even though like him I also work full-time. To my mind, the key phrase in the blog above is this: "And lest you think it's just us being part of this newfangled generation, his father cooks, too."

I think it's important for boys to grow up seeing their fathers and other adult men perform all those things "traditionally" labeled as women's work. My husband did not grow up in that kind of household (my MIL still does her 40 year old son's laundry!). Our 2 year old son already helps me with the dishes and laundry and without nagging I try to encourage my husband to do more around the house to set an example for our son.

Posted by: LibikiParis | November 28, 2007 6:19 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I are both professors and had our 2 children relatively later in life than the norm. They are now in elementary school. We shared childcare and household duties from the beginning. I do all the grocery shopping and 90% of cookng and kitchen cleanup. Being a "lark", I get kids up in a.m., get their breakfast, fix lunches, and drive them to school. My wife handles Dr visits and home nurse roles, buys clothes for them, and arranges their birthday parties (and gifts for others'), play dates, recreation. We have cleaning people once a week and everyone picks up the clutter in advance of that (The cleaners like to be able to at least see the floors and counters...) We both attend to school functions. I don't see how on earth single parents do what they do. And I don't see how a working mother with a heavy housework/childcare load can do it either.

Posted by: Joe | November 28, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

My husband does most of the outside yard work (we do have a lawn service-so this in not all that tough) and most of the home repairs. I generally do simple plumbing because my husband really doesn't have the mind for it. He gets my daughter up in the morning, gives her a light snack, dresses her and washes her up and delivers her to day care. I do the cooking, grocery shopping, and laundry. I set out her day care and school back pack. I also lay all her clothes out in the evening. I check her Thursday envelope and her communications note book. I generally schedule almost all the school things and play dates. I arrange birthday parties and other events. We both make doctors appointments, although I still do the lions share of appointments because I don't work on Fridays. I attend all the field trips and all IEPs and teacher conferences. We both do house work and not all that well. We are both coming to realize we need a monthly cleaning person. Probably will break down next year and get that. We both run to Target and random trips to the grocery store for last minute items. I pay the majority of the bills and set up a lot of our on line investments. He does some of this. We both manage our own checking, savings, and 401Ks. We consult each other on large financial purchases. About holidays, I do 90% of the family kid shopping (for our daughter and extended family). He shops for the adults in his own family. I do 90% of the Christmas cards and 100% of thank you notes. He just wouldn't get them out in time. I do all the clothes shopping and planning for our child. He does his own as well as his own laundry. He generally drops/picks up at the dry cleaner. I would love it if he did a little more but right now that is the best that he can do. He is a loving and appreciative spouse/father. He does like to bathe my daughter and put her to bed a few nights a week to give me a break. It is nice daddy and daughter time. Usually she plays in the bath while he reads her sports news magazine. It is pretty funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 28, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

People make way too much out of gender stereotypes. I do what I am best at, and he does what he does best. In our household, that means that I do the cooking, laundry, and errands, like grocery shopping. He does things like make sure the bills get paid and manage the money, hang pictures, assemble things, repair things. Who cares if they fall along traditional gender lines? I don't. I wouldn't want to do a lot of the things he does- I'm really not good at them, or they bore me to tears. It is the same for him- he could cook if he wanted to, but why, when I like it so much?

Posted by: Lisa | November 28, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

A few weeks ago at my daughter's school they were reading a book and it came out that the character in the book had a mom who cooked. My daughter goes "Mommies don't cook!" I was slightly mortified to be laid out like that for the kiddies.

Posted by: Mpls Mama | November 28, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Our family is "non-traditional" as well. Whoever gets home first makes dinner. I do most of the laundry. We both clean. I do the yardwork. We both take the kids to the dr depending on whose schedule works better that day. I handle the finances. My wife handles the meal planning and most of the grocery shopping.

Posted by: Dennis | November 28, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

My husband does all the grocery shopping, cooking and dishes. I do all the laundry and the vast majority of the housecleaning. We share budgeting and bill-paying, yard chores, and he is starting to learn how to be more handy around the house with the help of my brother-in-law.

In our case, we just do the jobs we each prefer doing. I don't care for cooking, and if left to my own devices would live on a diet of cereal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On the other hand, my husband is a real cooking enthusiast, who finds it to be a great creative outlet. We'll see how childcare duties breakdown when our first is born in February.

I pity women who allow their husbands to get away with contributing almost nothing with regards to housework. What suckers.

Posted by: Foreoki12 | November 28, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"People make way too much out of gender stereotypes. I do what I am best at, and he does what he does best. In our household, that means that I do the cooking, laundry, and errands, like grocery shopping."

I think the problem with this is that often men who grew up in traditional households aren't "good" at a lot of traditionally female jobs because they never had to do it. And I don't think that dividing by who's "best" at what always works well because there can be a lot of chores that neither is naturally good at. With some of the chores, I'm not necessarily good at them, just better than my husband who never learned while growing up. Does that mean I should be stuck doing all the laundry and cooking 'til the end of time. I don't think so. There's this thing called learning. We're all capable of it.

Posted by: Random mother | November 28, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I think it's generational. My grandmother did A LOT for her four boys. My dad doesn't clean the house (except his little areas), wouldn't know how to turn the washer/dryer on, doesn't grocery shop (though he'll go with my mom once in a while), doesn't wash dishes (pots and pans), doesn't cook unless it's BBQ, etc. He does mow the lawn and they do yard work "together". He also does the home repairs, but as a painter, the house could use some work. Almost like a shoemaker's kids never have shoes, a house painter's house is never quite finished...My dad's 70 and my mom's 63. And I (only child and female) take after my dad. I hate to clean and cooking/doing dishes is a huge effort, but I don't have anyone to do it for me! I don't mind laundry either since the machines do the majority of the work!

Posted by: WDC 21113 | November 28, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I guess we are lucky then, because doing what we are best at really works for us. I really don't mind cooking, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, vacuuming, etc. I would, however, mind having to balance the checkbook, painting, fixing things around the house, doing yard work, etc. If I need help, I ask for it, and he does the same- but for the most part, I do the things traditionally thought of as the woman's jobs, and he does what would be thought of as the man's. I couldn't be happier with this arrangement, even though I'm sure I'm horrifying a lot of people on here by saying so.

Posted by: Lisa | November 28, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

In our household I (the man) work while she stays home with the kids. However, I also do all the cooking and help out with the cleaning and laundry daily as well as all the home improvement projects/repairs and the bulk of the yard work. The stereotypes make me laugh and at the same time make me wonder why these women enable the behavior. Believe me if I slack I will hear about it and deservedly so.

Posted by: croaker69 | November 28, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I work opposite shifts, so we tend to do whatever we're around to do. This means my husband does the grocery shopping, most daytime child-related stuff (doctor's appointments, chaperoning field trips, etc.), packing lunches, and cooking dinner on weekdays. I do weekend cooking, all the breakfasts, all of the laundry and housecleaning (unless I specifically assign him tasks--he'll do housecleaning, but he doesn't *think* to do it unless I tell him what needs to be done), and all of the financial management and bill paying. He tends to do all of the one-time project work (assembling furniture, painting, etc.). We take turns washing dishes because we both hate it. Outdoor work is equally divided--I do all the gardening, he does all the yardwork.

The only time of the year I feel as if our contributions aren't pretty equal is right now--my daughter's birthday is three weeks before Christmas and he does next to nothing to prepare for either event, so I'm planning a birthday party and doing all of the Christmas preparations as well, which just gets to be a bit much on top of everything else. His job to prepare for Christmas is to cut down the tree and drag it in the house.

Posted by: Sarah | November 28, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

In our house I do the bulk of the housework, childcare, etc. I don't think that this is because of gender stereotypes-it just makes the most sense! I am home with kids while my husband works all day. I couldn't do any of it if he wasn't working to support us and at this point he makes a lot more in software than I ever could as a teacher. He does his own laundry and cooks on the weekends. He does help with cleaning up and bathing and bedtime when he is home in the evenings. The girls also help with all of the housework. I think at this point for most people it is about what works the best for your family, not about which jobs are for men or women. We BOTH slack on the yardwork.

It is certainly different for households where both parents are working and I certainly admire the job of single parents. I would find it hard to manage on my own

Posted by: Momof5 | November 28, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

aaaah... that all sounds dreamy to me. I'm the aforementioned single Mom stuck with everything from the leaky hot water tank to the bills to the homework supervision. Count your blessings y'all.

Posted by: anne | November 28, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm one of those husbands who contribute next to nothing with the hands-on household chores. My wife does all the grocery shopping, cooking, driving kids to doctors/dentist/activities, and bill paying.

Interesting note on how children view gender: When a father dropped his daughter off at my house for a play date, the first thing my daughter asked her friend was, "Wow! Your dad drives? Wow!" I thought it was amusing because I'm sure that she had seen men behind the wheel, but since I had never driven her anywhere, this was the first time she had noticed a driving dad.

So why hasn't my wife dump her pathetically useless husband who gave her 4 kids to cook and clean up afterwards? I don't know. But I should mention that in order to successfully manage a household where 6 people generate piles of laungry and dishes, the kids need to assume as many age appropriate chores as possible. To accomplish this goal, a fair, motivational, and consistent voice of authority is a very effective tool. That's how I play my part.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 28, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I were both raised by single moms. Our moms did everything, so we really had to feel our way through this two adult household stuff. But I think what has even more influence over how we divvy up the chores is my husband's OCD. He does the laundry because it messes with his sense of order when I just throw everything in on cold. Tasks where you have to adapt all along the way (like a lot of household repairs) are just too frustrating for him to do. Messy things like cleaning clogs or dog doo are also a struggle, but he can sometimes handle it with a thick pair of rubber gloves. When we're working on something together, we've learned that it's really really important for me to explain as much of the process in advance, including the things that might change. And then to continue with giving very clear step-by-step instructions along the way. It took me awhile to get good at it, but it works now. Luckily, he's great at organization and finance, and I'm really not. So - we basically try to play to our strengths by consciously avoiding some weaknesses.

Posted by: HerMom | November 28, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I'm a little sick of the stereotypes, too. I guess they exist in some families, but certainly not all.

My grandfather was a career naval officer, and his two main hobbies were baking and gardening. When I grew up, my father always did the dishes and all the grocery shopping, and my DH does at least 50% of those chores as well. The only place I have seen all these stereotypes about men who do nothing around the house is on TV, honestly.

Posted by: reston, va | November 28, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Hi, I guess my family falls in the non-traditional format. I don't think of it that way though, many women in my circle of friends have husbands who do a lot. In my house, my husband does all the cooking, he gets the kids up and gets breakfast for them, he gives them their bath, and he does the bills and the vast majority of the household repairs and lawn work. We split the laundry, I do all the folding, I do all the baking, I clean the kitchen and do the dishes, I get the kids off to school. He picks them up. We split school functions and staying home with ill children based on our work schedules. I do all the family event planning like rsvps for parties, planning kids birthday parties, buying gifts, making appts etc. It works great for us. I am working with my husband on getting more involved in the bill paying. He is interested in sharing that with me and I am interested in it as well. I think that's one area husband and wives should have equal knowledge. But overall, we play to our strengths.

Posted by: montgomery village md mom | November 28, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

This is stupid. You moan that men don't help you, but in the same sentence moan about how we just get in the way.

You can't have it both ways, ladies.

Want help with the turkey? I've got an idea: grill the turkey. It comes out so much better than your dried-out baked turkey, and it gets your husband in on the cooking action. No real man will ever allow his wife to within 5 feet of the grill.

Posted by: Bob | November 28, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I think it's what you grew up doing, not so much seeing...FIL is virtually useless honestly, but in our house, DH does the bulk of the housework and laundry, outdoor chores and general heavy lifting. I cook because I love it and I'm good at it, manage the finances because I'm better at it and general planning. DH says I provide the brains and he provides the brawn LOL But that's what work for us. Anyway, he grew up helping his grandfather in the kitchen and as an only child, being the sole helper to his OCD cleaning mother. So those are roles he's comfortable with because those are the roles he played as a kid, not what he saw HIS father or other men (aside from his grandfather) doing.

Posted by: lewislibrarian | November 28, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Bob, I love grilled turkey. We do one every year. It blows away the roasted turkey.

We split chores pretty evenly in the house but most of the childcare stuff falls to me and a lot of the cooking and I like it that way. I don't have time to waste thinking about gender stereotypes. Things just need to get done. Frankly, I don't understand what all the fuss is about, but I'm also incredibly fortunate to have a husband who thinks the way I do.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 28, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Apparently none of you non-traditional men work in my office. We have a monthly staff appreciation with a catered lunch, cake and drinks and the men NEVER pitch into help set up or break down. It's not a generational thing either as we employ men of all ages and background.

Posted by: Irene | November 28, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"There's this thing called learning. We're all capable of it."

I believe it when you change the oil, saw down a tree, finish a basement, or coach football.

Posted by: Jeff | November 28, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"In our household I (the man) work while she stays home with the kids. However, I also do all the cooking and help out with the cleaning and laundry daily as well as all the home improvement projects/repairs and the bulk of the yard work. The stereotypes make me laugh and at the same time make me wonder why these women enable the behavior. Believe me if I slack I will hear about it and deservedly so."

What? You work all day outside the home and she doesn't, you do all the cooking and part of the cleaning/laundry and all of the yard and home repair work, and YOU hear about it when you slack? What exactly are you getting in return for this that you think you DESERVE to be bashed if you don't do all of that? I think you should tell HER that she's slacking.

And no, I'm not a sexist pig male. I'm a SAHM of 4 who can't imagine making my husband do all of that stuff. No wonder women get a bad rap for nagging and no wonder people think that SAHMs don't do anything. Because there are SAHMs out there like your wife who DO nag and who DON'T do anything.

Posted by: Good grief | November 28, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The real test is if BOTH wife and husband are happy with their "roles' or tasks. Not to say that those can't or should change over time. But if one person is not happy stuck with all of the household chores or all of the lawnwork then there needs to be discussion.

Amen, to whomever posted that we can learn new things! I would like to teach my husband how to mop!!

Posted by: ILOVE74 | November 28, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

It's true that these are just stereotypes with plenty of exceptions, but sadly, the exceptions are still rare. What's really frustrating is that the media shows only the stereotypes and never the exceptions--just look at how commercials portray women's and men's roles, especially when it comes to cooking and cleaning.

I grew up in a household that was pretty much completely equal -- my parents cooked and baked equally, took turns doing dishes, grocery shopping, doing laundry. And when we were babies, they even took equal time off work to take care of us.

So I roll my eyes whenever I see those annoying stereotypes in the media -- not because they're not true, but because the media shows them as universally true, which only serves to perpetuate the status quo.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"just look at how commercials portray women's and men's roles, especially when it comes to cooking and cleaning."

Hold on -- there's the one where the dad tells the kid to finish his dinner so they can go get ice cream (or some reward) and the mom grabs the plate and finished the kid's food so they can leave.

That's a very rare and special commercial to me. Darn, I wish I could recall just what they were advertising!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 28, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

He cooks, I clean. In my folks' house, she cooks, he cleans. In my in-laws' house, she cooks, cleans and does everything else! The amazing thing is how my husband reverts to a slacker when at his mom's place. I step up and at least do her dishes for her.

Posted by: Olney | November 28, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

My husband, his brother and his father do the majority of cooking in respective households. My husband also runs errands, frequently makes grocery lists and trades off with me in washing the dishes. Not a single one of the men listed above even wants to watch football on Thanksgiving (or any day). There is no reason to believe that stereotypes are true - they are stereotypes and therefore shouldn't be accepted as fact.

Posted by: AH | November 28, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

No one has a dishwasher in their house? This is an essential item in my house because neither of us likes to do the dishes. As for the rest of the household chores, we pretty much split that 50/50 and my husband does all of the maintenance jobs.

Posted by: MV_78 | November 28, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

This is a silly topic.

If you're unhappy with the division of labor in your family, fix it. It has nothing to do with what your mil/fil do/did or what your parents do/did or what your brother does or does not do or what your friend Susie's husband does or does not do.

Why are you rolling your eyes at the idea of women cooking Thanksgiving dinner, Stacey? Maybe some of us LIKE to cook for our families. Maybe we enjoy the female comraderie in the kitchen and we don't like football. So WHAT??? It means nothing, other than that's what we like. If I wanted to watch football and hated to cook and spend time with female relatives, I would say "can we do something different about this?"

Posted by: What does this have to do with parenting? | November 28, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"There's this thing called learning. We're all capable of it."

I believe it when you change the oil, saw down a tree, finish a basement, or coach football.

Posted by: Jeff | November 28, 2007 10:28 AM

I do drywall and most of the handyman things. My husband doesn't know how. Neither of us changes the oil but have it done. I have no interest in football and neither does my husband. Oh yes, I have helped cut down trees before. My husband usually does the lawn but I certainly know how and have done so on many occasions. I pay the bills.

Posted by: Random mother | November 28, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I live alone, so I won't comment on your question.

However, I will say that I have yet to attend a Thanksgiving dinner where the man had any significant contribution to making the food, and I've attended Thanksgiving in five different households in recent memory. I don't know if there's been a national survey, but I suspect that sharing the Thanksgiving cooking duties is unusual, and that even in cases where duties are shared, the woman is typically the "head chef."

This is an excellent case where some data would be really useful as opposed to my and others anecdotes.

Posted by: Jennifer | November 28, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The commercial is for Baskin Robbins, advertising a new flavor of Blizzard. I only saw it once, but it really hit home in my household. I'd fall on the sword of eating my kids' peas if it meant a trip for ice cream.

Posted by: To Arlington Dad | November 28, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

It also comes down to what your strengths are: I'm a horrible cook - my husband is terrible at cleaning up. So we do what naturally comes easier.

And we both like football, so on Thanksgiving, we just go to someone else's house.

Posted by: bl | November 28, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

wow jennifer, I wonder why

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"However, I will say that I have yet to attend a Thanksgiving dinner where the man had any significant contribution to making the food, and I've attended Thanksgiving in five different households in recent memory."

So since you're not willing to host Thanksgiving dinner in your home and are mooching off of five different people in recent memory, do you at least offer to help the hostess?

"This is an excellent case where some data would be really useful as opposed to my and others anecdotes."

Why? Who cares? Why is it useful to find out that 90% of Thanksgiving dinners are prepared by women?

"And we both like football, so on Thanksgiving, we just go to someone else's house."

So in other words, you're a mooch just like Jennifer. You want to eat turkey and watch football but not do any of the work. Someone else (who doesn't like football) can do that. I guess it comes down to two camps:

1. Like football - don't cook
2. Don't like football - cook

It has nothing to do with sharing of duties, it's all about football.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"The commercial is for Baskin Robbins, advertising a new flavor of Blizzard"

Dairy Queen is going to be awfully upset that Baskin Robbins has stolen their product.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I just read the referenced article. Oh, puhleaz! My husband and I approach everything with the attitude that we are a team. I planned the meal, made up the shopping list and assigned dishes to relatives (yes, female relatives). My husband and I did the grocery shopping together. He did most of the house cleaning while I watched our 3 kids. My father and father-in-law didn't do any cooking, but the other males (my husband and brother-in-law) did as much as I did to contribute to the meal (without being asked). My sister-in-law did none of the cooking, but she and my BIL did a major portion of the clean up with help from everyone. I'm talking sweeping, scrubbing, rinsing, packing leftovers, etc. Then, b/c everyone knows that I'm the sole Cowboy fan in the house, they make sure that my duties are over/taken care of so that I can be one of the ones that sits down to watch football. With so many people working on dinner and clean up, we all benefit b/c there is more time to relax with one another, play with the kids and play games. We are not trying to purposefully go against "tradition." This is just the way it happens. It wouldn't even occur to my husband to just sit back and watch me do all the work.

Posted by: Kim | November 28, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I (the man) do nearly all the cooking in our house, including Thanksgiving and Christmas (when we're not away from home for the holidays--and even then I generally help out in the kitchen). My wife and I guesstimate that she changed more diapers than me for two of our children, I changed more diapers on the other two. She does more of the cleaning and vacuuming sorts of things. I do more in the way of getting the kids off to school in the morning. And so forth.

Basically, we just picked what we're each better at/enjoy more, and went with it--and it works for us.

As far as why some people see that sort of arrangement around them all over the place and why others don't see it at all, I think it's worth pointing out that modern Americans self-segregate pretty intensely--you're more likely to be around people who are similar to you along multiple dimensions (including, I would think, household division of labor) than those who behave differently than you do.

Basically, the expressions of disbelief one way or the other are exactly the same thing that leads people to exclaim, after every election, "I can't believe that AAA won--nobody *I* know voted that way!" You don't see it 'cause you're hanging around people who are just like you.

Posted by: David B | November 28, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't you people have anything more important to kvetch about? If you're so unhappy with the division of chores, then have a game plan--decide ahead of time who does what. And what's all this friction going on between people at holiday meals? If you don't get along with somebody, don't invite them. Get real. If certain people really get under your skin, don't associate with them.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I, as my title suggests, am a stay-at-home mom, wife, and part-time student. Though I'm home with my 13-mo-old all day, every day (I'm taking only a 5-hr course at night this semester), my husband still cooks most nights and does the nightly dish duty. On the weekends, we split the housework up fairly evenly (though I don't let him clean the kitchen, he doesn't do it well enough for me). This division of duty reflects the fact that he understands that caring for our daughter is tough and demanding work, and that at the end of the day, he's more likely to be less stressed (after a day in academia - oh, the life!) than I am.

Oh, and on holidays, he always cooks - he's better at it! - and watches his beloved football in-between (I hate sports).

So, from a SAHM, my experience!

Posted by: Mom-wife-student | November 28, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"I have yet to attend a Thanksgiving dinner where the man had any significant contribution to making the food"

Of the 20 people I've talked to about frying a turkey, all were men. Way too dangerous for women! Besides the guys need someone to clean up after dinner while we nap and watch football. The girls are happy to do the kitchen cleanup because they like to share gossip and chatter without the guys butting in.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 28, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, good grief. Another endless back-and-forth about division of labor.

If either of you aren't happy with the way things are, DO SOMETHING (talk) ABOUT IT. Don't be dissatisfied again and again and then explode. Or, worse yet, resort to neverending passive-agressive snide comments. Be prepared, though, to be forced to acknowledge that there are a lot of things the other party does that you aren't aware of or have forgotten about.

You have noone to blame but yourselves.

Posted by: Jim | November 28, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Way to go, Jim. As for football, it's a low level blue-collar sport, pretty much on the same level as the roller derby. My television set does not pick up football games, the Macy's parade, American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

As a man, I do not think all gender roles are interchangeable, but I support sharing as much as possible the duties in the household. Especially so with dual income families.

Does being masculine or femine have any meaning if we assert all gender roles are 100% interchangeable? Will this make us all happier overall?

Seems alot of this is about control.


Posted by: meatshield | November 28, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"This division of duty reflects the fact that he understands that caring for our daughter is tough and demanding work,"

Oh yes. Taking care of one 13 month old child is soooooooooooo hard. Wah, wah, wah. Give me a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Mehitabel, I think you're on to something with the control issue. When I got married, my aunt (who is a superduper control freak extraordinaire) told me that I had to decide did I want something done, or did I want something done my way - the implication that if I want something done my way, I would need to do it myself. So I take on a lot of chores that I care more about (decluttering the house, bill paying, investments, food purchasing, doctor visits, general organizational tasks). My husband takes on a lot of the rest, and I don't complain. So what if my daughter doesn't match when she goes to school? Is she warm and clean? Who cares if all the clothes are washed on cold? Are they clean and not pink from an errant red sock? Eh, so we have chicken 3 nights in a row because my husband thawed 3 pounds instead of 1 pound. It happens. Our house is maybe not as clean and as nice as I would like, but it is clean enough, and nice enough, and we are able to relax and enjoy our family time.

Posted by: Mpls Mama | November 28, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

This is funny. I grew up in a "traditional" house. My mom stayed home and made an excellent dinner every night. You could do major surgery on any surface in our house, at any time. My dad couldn't cook (except french toast and grilling) and he literally didn't know how to operate the washing machine--we had to get help from friends once when mom was out of town.

But, since I wasn't born in the 1930s, it never occured to me to live like that. Didn't any of you guys live on your own as adults, before getting married? When I was a 28 year old single professional, I didn't have a disgusting aprtment and dirty clothes. I just took care of myself (asked my mom how to do dtuff, actually). So, once married, it never occured to me to have my wife maintain our house and cook me turkey while I sat on the couch with my hand down my pants like Al Bundy. (And I promise you, it never occured to her either.)

Posted by: new dad | November 28, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

When DD was little and I was a stay-at-home
Mom I did nearly everything except get gasoline (remember the snipers in 03).

I went back to work in 2004 and DH started
doing some more household chores. This year he puts DD age 6 on the school bus because I am already working downtown by the time the school bus comes.

Taking care of one child is easier in terms of cleanup but sometimes more difficult to entertain. Mine is learning
how to amuse herself, color, "write words"
she had her own teddy bear picnic for her and about ten stuffed friends over the Thanksgiving weekend etc but she would prefer Mommy or Daddy to play with her.

Posted by: shdd | November 28, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

This year for the first time in a while we did not attend my wife's extended family clan gathering. I consider that a good move. Why? My wife's dear aunts do all the cooking and we sit down to dried out turkey, green jello, green beans out of a can w/ canned cream o' mushroom soup and sweet potatoes w/ marshmallows.

This time, let's see; I cooked the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberries. My wife made mashed potatoes, cornbread, and pumpkin pie, and bought the wine. My mom made the sweet potatoes (w/ peaches and cashews), my dad made apple pie.

I *did* watch football because, hey, TV in the kitchen! (some will object to this latter concession).

Posted by: kimo pizzicato | November 28, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I have a dishwasher in my house yet my husband puts all his dirty dishes in the sink for me to put in the dishwasher.

Posted by: charlotte nc | November 28, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Let's see... I drive, get the groceries, take kids to appointments, do the yardwork, take care of household repairs and projects, pay the bills, and cook.

She does the laundry, gets the kids to the bus stop, makes lunches, half-assedly cleans up the house, and complains that I don't do my share.

Posted by: drewdane | November 28, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Some nice fellow named Jeff suggested that "I believe it when you change the oil, saw down a tree, finish a basement, or coach football." Dude - I've done all those things, save coach football. I have, however, coached little league. On Thanksgiving, I neither cooked or watched football; I blew 10 inches of cellulose insulation into my attic to increase my R-factor. I also scrubbed my floors and did laundry. Who needs a husband? Certainly not me! It would just make for more laundry.

Posted by: jmreynolds | November 28, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Drewdane: When the divorce becomes final, I'm available. I have my own home. In the past few months I've had to deal with contractors putting in a new floor, the furnace man and the chimneysweep were there Thanksgiving weekend to maintain the furnace and fireplace for the winter. I do my own yard work, buy groceries, pay the bills from one income, take care of the car maintenance and pump my own gas, do the housecleaning and laundry, take the garbage to the recycle center, take the cat to the vet for his shots and give him insulin each morning (he's diabetic), drove 100 miles each way for a funeral of a childhood friend, and work full time outside the house.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the problem isn't how much work we have to do, but how much we're appreciated for our contributions. I don't have a problem with my share of the housework because my husband is appreciative of me in general, and the things I do for our family in particular. He says so often, and even better, he shows it. He takes care not to make more work for me, and on days when I don't get to it all, he pitches in on my chores or keeps the baby occupied so I can.

Posted by: Karen | November 29, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with a mom doing every single stereotypical things that a mom can do, never doing anything else, and the same for a dad.

What's important is that it honestly works for THEM. It's when the mom gets annoyed that the dad isn't doing "enough" and vice versa that things become and issue.

However, this usually happens because someone decided they NOW don't like something that has always been part of the other person, or can't honestly hold onto those expectations that the other person WILL do that. They complain about the partner "never doing X" but they don't actually work together to reach a good medium together.

Posted by: Liz D | November 29, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most people - do what works for you, and stop comparing yourself to other people.

I do at least half the stuff around the house. All yard work, all house repairs, all car repairs, etc. I pick up/drop off youngest at daycare, and handle almost all doctor appts. Chores are split roughly 50/50, but I do the majority of the cooking.

I also handle almost all of the finances - all bills, all retirement/savings, all insurance, all taxes, etc.

All of that came from growing up and not my wife "training" me. My mom (and dad) were wonderful teachers. We had to pull our weight as kids, and it's made things second nature to me now.

In fact, my wife often complains that I do too much and I won't let her help me. Sorry - I do stuff when I see it needs to be done. I work first, then I play (and if the 2nd doesn't happen, too bad). We have 2 girls, and I like a clean house. Plus, I want to make sure they see what a guy CAN do, so they expect that in the future.

Posted by: ATL Dad | November 30, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

My husband was trained when I met him. His single mother did a wonderful job raising a man who later became a wonderful partner to me.

We both work full time jobs. I shop, cook, and set the table. When meals are over, I sit down or play with our 2 yr old while hubby cleans the kitchen from top to bottom. He usually unloads the dishwasher; he does the yards, the floors, makes the bed, cleans the toilets, the showers, and he does some of the laundry (including folding and put-aways). I do the rest. We share the parenting responsibilities equally except I always get baths and bed-times which are thankfully easy.

Thank God for a wonderful mother-in-law who was strong & smart enough to teach her son to always let the toilet seat down, and thank God for my Mother who taught me that I was worth all of that and more.

Posted by: lori | December 5, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company