Dads, how much do you like (or loathe) household chores? Can you be found stacking dishes in the dishwasher or cleaning the kitchen floor? Are you happy to hoover? Do you do the ironing while catching up with a boxset on Netflix? If so you could be teaching your children a very important lesson. One that can even affect their future careers.
If you’re hardly ever seen wiping kitchen surfaces and will do anything to avoid doing the laundry then here’s a very good reason to roll up your sleeves and start helping out more around the house.
A recent study has revealed that dads who do more of the housework are more likely to have ambitious daughters. Girls who see Dad doing his fair share of the chores are more likely to want to be doctors, lawyers, computer programmers or engineers when they grow up.
Talk the talk and walk the walk
Researchers found that children learn about gender roles and equality by watching their parents. And when they see both mum and dad sharing chores and helping each other out in all the varied tasks that it takes to run a household, they are more likely to believe that both sexes are equal and reject traditional gender stereotypes.
Girls, in particular, researchers found, are more likely to grow up believing they can be anything they wanted to be. They are less likely to believe they have to take on caring roles, for example, that have traditionally been seen as jobs more suitable for women.
Alyssa Croft, author of the study and a psychology researcher, commented on the findings, saying:
This suggests girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents. How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role.
The study also revealed that children learn more from what we, as parents do rather than what we say. Actions very definitely speak louder than words.
Dads – you can say as many times as you like that women and men are equal. You can tell your daughters that they can follow their dreams but if it’s all talk then it doesn’t seem to have much impact.
If you don’t follow up by helping around the house in some way, be it stacking the dishwasher or wiping down surfaces, if you sit back and leave it all the chores to mum, then there’s a risk that your daughters are more likely to be held back by gender stereotypes.
Researchers found that in these households where dads shirk the chores, daughters are more likely to picture themselves in traditionally female roles, such as nurses, teachers, librarians or stay-at-home mums.
‘Talking the talk’ about equality is important, but our findings suggest that it is crucial that dads ‘walk the walk’ as well – because their daughters clearly are watching.’
The study presents a strong argument as to why it is so important for dads to pick up a broom and sweep away any lingering traditional gender stereotypes.
Why are women still doing more of the household chores?
We’ve come a long way since the 1950s when housework was definitely seen as women’s work. We’ve taken some huge strides towards gender equality since then. Today’s dads are much more likely to do their bit when it comes to childcare and chores.
But the truth is that the lion’s share of the chores still fall to women.
Recent research shows that British women do 60% more housework than men. So why does this gender gap, when it comes to who does the chores, still exist?
Way back in 1949 Simone de Beauvoir wrote about the unfair division of housework and put her finger on why doing household chores is so very annoying. She wrote:
Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition. The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.
She was so right. Housework IS relentless and annoying. Whoever does it. Why are mums still the ones more likely to be found doing the dishes and washing the laundry?
A US study hinted at the fact that it might be because mums are not quite willing to let go of control or delegate chores to their partners.
Women surveyed said they believed that their partners would not do the chores to their own high standards and, therefore, just found it easier to do more of them themselves.
When the Guardian asked married couples about who does the housework one dad summed this up perfectly. He said:
My wife insists on doing most of the cleaning and all of the laundry because of her belief that I don’t do well at these tasks.
Both parents can do more to make the housework more of a shared responsibility. Mums can let go of the reins a bit more and dads can grab that mop and put it to good use.
Good things come to those who…help with housework
If you’re not quite convinced yet, another study may persuade you.
It found that dads who help out more around the house are happier and have stronger marriages.
It discovered that, for dads, the two most important factors for marital bliss were being engaged with the kids and taking on a fair share of the chores.
Laurie Gerber, president of Handel Group Life Coaching in New York, said:
Marriage (and relationships) are all about being there for the other person and you work as a team to get the job of family done.
In case you needed yet more reasons to help out around the house, a 2015 study revealed that dads who help with the housework are more likely to have better sex lives. We’re just going to drop that one there!
- “The Sisyphean Torture of Housework: Simone de Beauvoir and Inequitable Divisions of Domestic Work in Marriage”, Andrea Veltman
- “The Second Shift Reflected in the Second Generation: Do Parents’ Gender Roles at Home Predict Children’s Aspirations?” Psychological Science
- “Men who help with housework ‘have more and better sex'”, The Telegraph
- “The secret to a happy marriage appears to be housework”, Today
- “Dirty secret: why is there still a housework gender gap?”, The Guardian
- “Work Is Not to Blame for Women’s Lack of Free Time; Time-pressure Is Often Self-imposed, According to Real Simple/Families and Work Institute Survey”, PR Newswire