In the Parenthood

Do dads get short shrift at home?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  June 23, 2010 08:20 AM

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A newly released Boston College study called "The New Dad: Exploring Fatherhood Within a Career Context" points to a sea change in the workplace: Fathers may be facing a bias similar to that which working mothers know all too well.

But there's a twist: It seems that their wives are also discounting the work these dads do at home.

I'll admit it: I know I've been guilty of this. It's too easy to fall into bed after a long day of juggling work and parenthood and housework and start thinking of all the things you did that he didn't have to do -- without considering the things he does that you don't. Which is in keeping with the findings of several studies: The National Survey of Families and Households from the University of Wisconsin found that when both husband and wife work outside the home (which is the case more than 70 percent of two-parent households with kids, according to 2008 US Census data), the woman spends about 28 hours a week on housework while the husband spends about 16 hours. But I have to wonder what falls under "housework." My husband rarely does the laundry or vacuums the floors, but in the many years since we bought our home I've never once mowed the lawn or repaired the siding. Doesn't that make our time commitment more or less even?

Still, dads are being penalized by perception. According to the 2008 Families and Work report, more than 50 percent of men say they do most or at least half of the housework, while 70 percent of women say they do all of it. Another survey, just released by online organization company Cozi, shows similar numbers: while men say the do about half the cooking, laundry, and grocery shopping, women say they are responsible for about 75 percent of those chores.

And the perception is the same when it comes to taking care of the kids: In the Work and Family report, 49 percent of men said they provided most or at least half of the childcare, but only 31 percent of women agreed with them.

According to the Boston College study, part of the problem is that women managed to retain legitimacy in the home as their level of credibility and acceptance in the workplace rose. But while legitimacy at work hasn't been a problem for modern men, acceptance of their desire to be good fathers is harder to come by -- both from their employers and their spouses. And that's what needs to change, the authors of "The New Dad" conclude: "If we want all people to feel like “whole persons,” that means respecting the man’s role as care-giver, cook, cleaner, nurturer, and comforter every bit as much as we respect the woman’s role in the workplace."

For Dana H. Glazer, a stay-at-home dad and the filmmaker behind the documentary The Evolution of Dad, that's what the modern father is working toward: "...a time when there will be no real distinction between Stay-At-Home Dads and Working Dads. They will all just be… Dad."

So parents, weigh in: Do you think you and your spouse pull equal weight at home? And would your spouse agree with your assessment?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com and follow her on Twitter @WriteEditRepeat.

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35 comments so far...
  1. LOL not even close. For example, my husband will claim that he does half of the cooking when in reality, he cooks 2-3 dinners a week. What about breakfast, lunch, and the other 3-4 dinners? Do our kids (one as young as 4) magically prepare and feed themselves the other 18 meals?

    I'm guessing that most men over estimate what they do around the house, most women under estimate what their husbands do and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Although I do know two men who literally do at least half of the work around their houses, they are few and far between. Most men I know do things like mow the lawn or work on the outside of the house - tasks that are valuable but take only an hour or two a week - while their wives do the endless day to day tasks such as laundry, shopping, and daily cleaning.

    We have daily routines, chore charts etc. to ensure that we all chip in (kids included) and everyone knows what it takes to run a household but at the end of the day, I "own" the routines and my husband "helps out," always acting like the new employee who needs to be trained and managed. Sure, he'll agree to do the laundry when I ask/tell him to but in his head, that means just today, and just one load. If I want him to do another load, I have to ask/order him to do that. I've given up on trying to get him to take ownership of household duties and instead focus my energies on training my sons to know that they are as responsible for getting things done as anyone else is.

    Posted by Jen June 23, 10 03:55 PM
  1. I'm interested in seeing responses and analysis of the studies when you consider this:

    Some chores are the result of one partner's choices/wishes that were begrudingly accepted by, or foisted on, the other partner. For example, one wanted a pet and the other didn't. Now the person who wanted the pet expects the other to help with the care related to the pet. Or lawn work. One partner wanted a small yard or a condo and the other wanted a bigger yard but isn't willing to do all the work for something they clearly wanted and said they would take responsibility for at the onset. The same goes for children. Maybe the work shouldn't always be equal if decisions aren't arrived at in collaboration and agreement.

    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar June 23, 10 05:34 PM
  1. Funny thing. Funny how these discussions always neglect the fact that the household STANDARDS are always imposed by the wives. Especially since these standards (how and when to clean, do laundry, etc...) are completely arbitrary and most often than not, overkill (does your floor need to be as clean as a hospital's? do you need to wash towels after one use?)

    True equality will never be achieved unless men have an equal say on how much effort needs to be spent on chores. Until then, they'll always be "employees" of their wives. So sad. But I guess it's convenient to say that men are lazy and/or dirty.

    Posted by Sad but True June 23, 10 05:50 PM
  1. I cook each night because I love to. He cooks weekend lunches and breakfasts because he does.

    He vacuums every day or every other day. I dust every once in a while (for some reason, our house doesn't generate dust like other places we've lived have) and scrub all floors every month.

    We take turns with the litter box, trash, bathroom cleaning...

    He fixes the car. I don't.

    He stayed home for almost two years and fixed breakfast and lunch every day, did the dishes constantly, did laundry, mowed the lawn (when we had one), tended the dog (when we had one), raised our daughter, fixed the car, fixed broken things in the house, painted rooms in the house, worked sidejobs from home...

    [hangs head in mock shame] Ah! But I cooked, demmit!!!

    Um...I think we're a little more balanced now. It's safe to say that we share work and responsibility equally, maybe with him pulling a little extra weight because of my increasing military TDY schedule that takes me away from home more.

    Posted by Phe June 23, 10 05:52 PM
  1. Well said, Jen.

    My husband is blissfully ignorant of how to do most household chores, and he makes no secret of the fact that he doesn't plan to learn how to do any of them anytime soon. At least he freely admits that I do *way* more for our kids and our home than he does...even though we *both* work full-time jobs. And if he ever asks me to take the car in for an oil change or to do any type of yard work, I have no problem telling him that if I have to be Harriet, he has to be Ozzy.

    I'd just add that if men want to be respected for nurturing children and doing household chores, they'll have to actually earn that respect by doing a good job at it, just as they would at work. I'm convinced my husband purposely does a horrible job at certain tasks because he secretly hopes I'll never ask him to do it again. This from a man with a PhD from one of Boston's finest universities...

    Posted by whatever June 23, 10 06:17 PM
  1. I'm happy Jen is a Super-mom and can do all of that stuff. I'm also glad she knows enough couples to make such an accurate guess as to what most husbands do.
    I hear this opinion all of the time at my place of work as well as at my kids schools,it's time people stop worrying about what everyone else does and take responsibility for their own lives and marriages.
    Just for the record I commute approximately 18 hours a week and still do laundry, cook and clean. My wife works very hard as well and its only right that both partners share the workload.

    Posted by Kevin June 23, 10 06:24 PM
  1. I don't know or care whether we each do exactly half of the chores. What's more important, IMO, is that over time, we've come to an arrangement that we're both happy with. I do most of the laundry, cooking, and shopping, he does most of the maintenance type stuff. We pay someone to clean. He's happy to help with 'my' tasks when I ask, and offers to help out fairly frequently. I help with 'his' tasks when asked, and will pick up some of them on my own when it makes sense.

    Posted by akmom June 23, 10 06:25 PM
  1. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. I work full time outside the home. He does ALL the cooking, laundry, dishes, daily cleaning. I do some of the weekly/monthly chores (like cleaning the bathrooms or washing windows). He obviously does all the child care during the day; we share it equally at night. It seems to work for us.

    Posted by erin June 23, 10 07:39 PM
  1. Hm. Reading the first few comments before mine appeared, maybe I should have caveated with:

    We both wanted a child.
    We both wanted a dog.
    We have the same standards of cleanliness (military training, SIR) and no, towels do NOT need to be washed after one use, thankyouverymuch.
    When my husband wants something that involves work, he takes care of it. Same here. If we grow to love that thing the other wanted and tends to, we help each other out.

    But it sounds like akmom, kevin, and erin are the only ones here so far (OP excluded) who actually have relationships they value and respect, that work for them and their SO, and who don't make passive agressive or outright nasty comments about their marriages.

    Posted by Phe June 23, 10 08:25 PM
  1. When it comes to house & yard maintenance, child care or, in general, the business of running our family, I own it & my husband helps. I don't like this, but after almost 20 years, I've decided I like being the nag even less. Like Jen, my husband agrees to "help" with certain chores -- but they're still mine. Case in point: several years ago, when I still tried to achieve some sort of parity at home (BTW - at the time, I worked about 55 hrs/wk out side of the home; he worked about 32 - 36) I complained that If I didn't change the sheets on our bed we'd be sleeping on the same sheets until Hell froze over, his very earnest reply was "how am I supposed to know where you keep the sheets?" Yes, these would be the sheets that he'd watched as I put them away in the chest at the foot of our bed. The same sheets that he'd even grabbed out of the same chest when I asked. He pays the bills (with money we both earn), arranges to have the lawn mowed and does some of the cooking (& is very good at it). I take care of the kids, the house, the animals, much of the outside & any sort of strategic planning. For now. Not sure how much longer. Because, as much as I don't like being the nag, I also don't like being the workhorse. I've asked & tried every way I know how to make a change but, like it takes 2 to agree to live this way, it takes 2 to make it different. And, so far, only one of us wants it to be. At some point, though, there will be one major change that I can make. Not there yet. Yet.

    Posted by Kids mum June 23, 10 09:24 PM
  1. After reading these comments, I think I lucked out in the marriage department. Or maybe I chose wisely. Or maybe my husband lucked out. We split things up based on what we like to do, and the stuff neither of us really like to do gets done anyway by whoever has time to do it.

    Posted by Lee June 23, 10 09:37 PM
  1. Is this a joke? Ha ha ha ha.... I'm with Jen and Kids mum.

    Posted by MV June 23, 10 09:42 PM
  1. My wife and I work. I get our two year old ready in the morning, she does childcare duty in the evening. She cooks dinner, I clean up from dinner, and we have a cleaning lady come once a week. She got off the lawyer fast track (because I made more) and took a job that enables her to p/u our son by 5:30PM. We probably would agree that we split the chores but the bottom line is that we are BOTH in constant motion... When I was younger, I felt my mom wasted her talents by staying home to care for the children. Now, a part of me wishes for a stay at home mom for my child...

    Posted by The Nuclear Family want to be... June 23, 10 10:43 PM
  1. Even in 21st Century America, gender stereotypes hold fast... I should know. I'm a stay at home dad who cooks dinner every night, changes diapers, etc. (I earn money as a writer, but this job accounts for only about ten or fifteen hours a week, and my wife pulls in the primary income). The hard thing for me is not the amount of childcare and housework that I handle, but the fact that most people consider this work to be unmanly. Sure, when pressed, they'll agree that raising a family and taking care of a house is important business, but there is always an undercurrent of suspicion, like, "What's his problem? Why doesn't he have a REAL job?" This attitude, sadly, comes from women even more than men.

    Posted by Dad June 23, 10 10:51 PM
  1. I do all the housework in our house. My wife does the dinner cooking. I take care of breakfast and lunches for the kids.

    I'm responsible for all laundry (and folding and putting away and with 4 kids it's never ending). I clean up the kitchen after every meal, doing the dishes, loading/unloading the dishwasher. All vacuuming, mopping floors and dusting.

    I'm responsible for packing lunches/snacks for the kids, making sure their backpacks are packed up (when in school).

    I drive our youngest to/from preschool every day. I also drive the kids to/from all sports, activities, and play dates.

    I'm also responsible for getting the kids ready for bed, reading to them and tucking them in. She will occasionally read to one of them.

    My wife gets coffee and breakfast in bed every morning. She has a very demanding job (I couldn't do it), but still makes half of my base salary.

    The one job my wife does is cleaning the bathrooms. I hate doing it so she has taken that job.

    But everything here is a fact. We've been happily married 16 years and this arrangement has worked well for us.

    I admit I may be the exception, but don't assume all moms do the extra work. I would put my work load up against any mom on any day.

    Posted by Mike R. June 24, 10 12:34 AM
  1. DAD: Hang in there. My husband was a SAHD for two years. He left his job to care for our daughter and got that same attitude all of the time. In fact, you sound an awful lot like him. For him, it wasn't the work itself - it was the neverending cycle of, "Um, well, you're not a MOM so..." and "Oh, babysitting are you?" and "Whaddya mean you don't work [for pay]? You make your wife do it all, eh?" that got to him.

    The women that do it? They're the ones who are martyrs to their cause and who, like some commenters here, don't believe that men can actually do these things and do them well. They get aggravated when they see men who prove them wrong and it just makes them worse. Sorry to say. : (

    But, some of us know different and better. And does it matter in the end which parent stays home? I don't think so. Whichever parent it is, they deserve all of the support and probably a medal too. No job is more important than that of the primary caregiver.

    Posted by Phe June 24, 10 06:32 AM
  1. It's attitudes like 'whatever''s that really scare me - that dad is somehow a bumbling idiot, incapable of doing any task up to your exacting specification.

    My husband doesn't do things the same way I do. It bugged me for a while, and I got over it. When I went back to work, he took over morning child wrangling. It took him a while to get in the swing of doing ponytails and making sure that clothes didn't clash too horribly, but he got there. He couldn't keep a mental tally of who had gym/library/instrument lessons on which days, so we put a note on the back of the front door. Instead of viewing your partner as incompetent, why not a) reexamine your standards, and b) once you figure out what's really important, figure out how to help them get there?

    Posted by akmom June 24, 10 07:00 AM
  1. My husband does no housework unless I specifically ask him to do something. However, he mows the lawn and does any maintenance-type stuff around the house. He also did much of the work himself during our house's construction (I did none of it). And before our teen got her license, he spent far more hours each week driving her around than I did, without complaint. Do I wish that he'd cook a meal or do a load of laundry? Yes. Will this break up our marriage? Not at all!

    Posted by Local mom June 24, 10 07:04 AM
  1. My husband is another "helper". If I ask him to sweep the kitchen or vacuum, he'll do it after some complaining and maybe a few hours after I've asked. He never volunteers to help, and that no exaggeration. He has a home office that I never go into. You can't see the floor through the piles of junk mail, clothing, and computer parts. Our landlord had to come in to check a water pipe that runs through his office. She described it as worse than a 13 year old boy's bedroom. What my husband can tolerate is just beyond me.

    What he will do is his own laundry and cook occasionally, and by cooking I mean grilling.

    Housework aside, if there's every an issue with the phone or cable... he's on it, but even many "manly" duties are left up to me. I have to maintain my own car and do much of the physcial maintenance of the property (uncloging drains, spacking walls, painting etc). We both work full time. His work day is longer, but my commute is much longer. We're both out of the house for about the same amount of time.

    Posted by razzy35 June 24, 10 08:00 AM
  1. My wife and I split the household duties pretty much 50/50 when we both worked full time. She wanted to be a stay at home mom, so we made lifestyle and budget changes to enable this to happen. Now she does more of the housework since she's at home full time with the children, and I do considerably less of them. I still cook, clean up, mow the lawn, maintain the cars, fix the computers, lift heavy things, home improvements and kill bugs. I don't think this is unfair or feel guilty about it at all, I can say that there are a lot less worries now and we are a lot less stressed out. With careful budgeting and priority setting, we have been able to keep what matters to us most in our life, enhance other areas and we don't really miss a lot of the stuff we got rid of. We don't have cable TV, iPhones, new cars or HDTV. We can't afford vacations that are any more elaborate than driving to visit my or her parents.

    Looking at other couples we know, there are many where they do work together, but there are some where the wife does a lot more of the child rearing and housework. Sure, she'll gripe up a storm about it, but when the husband tries to do anything, he's always "doing it wrong" and she steps in to "do it right". Well, honey, if you want someone to do something for you, you have to let them learn how to do it, and realize that they might do it differently than you do. As long as it gets done, who cares?

    I also can say from experience that the way I perceive something as dirty is different from the way my wife does. I see clutter and I think "that's dirty". She doesn't mind the clutter so much, but would rather that the bathrooms and floors were cleaned more often.

    Posted by J June 24, 10 08:32 AM
  1. I am the planner in our family, as my mother was in ours. I plan out what I want to clean and when, what we need at the store, and what our routines are going to include. I don't do it alone, but I do tell my husband when its time to do it. Its a personality thing for me and I like knowing ahead of time what we are going to do.

    I would say if you count the time I spend planning things out and getting things organized in order to accomplish the list of stuff to do, I definitely do more than 50% of the work. I would guess I do more like 70% BUT I prefer to be the one in control of these things so its a good compromise for me and my husband.

    I think some women may prefer to just do some things without even asking their husbands to help, like me. This would skew the survey results because husbands wouldn't even know the things we do without their help. I think my husband is wonderful and does 50% of what is asked of the him but not exactly 50% of what needs to be accomplished and thats fine by me

    Posted by BabyMama June 24, 10 09:46 AM
  1. Another gender difference when it comes to childcare: moms often have a local support system of friends, neighbors, playground groups, mom's clubs, etc., while dads are often doing it all alone. This is because there are FAR fewer stay-at-home dads (still less than one in 50 I'd bet), but also because men find it harder to reach out and make friends in this way. In my own experience, I've found I'm usually frozen out of groups of moms, who see a male as an intruder in the circle, and I'm often given looks like I'm some creepy dude. And yeah, the comments of "Oh, so you're babysitting today?" or "Guess you're giving Mom a break this morning?" do piss me off a bit, because nobody would say that to a woman.

    Posted by Dad June 24, 10 11:15 AM
  1. I had emailed Amy and Marc Vachon, authors of "Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents," asking them to weigh in on the study. Here's their insightful reply.

    We have seen over and over in our own interviews with parenting couples that today’s fathers expect, together with their partners, to fully share the work (and the joy) of parenthood. Not just at a task level, or even a level of hours spent with their children, but at the depths of raising their children as equally involved and responsible parents. The men in this study had this same expectation. They want, and expect, to get to equally shared parenting – not simply because it is fair, but because they desire this level of involvement!

    But the study points out that men are stressed by their newfound difficulties in balancing work and family time in order to achieve this level of equality day in and day out. We think this is true primarily because while men may be expanding their definition of fatherhood beyond simply “provider,” but they are still holding onto their primary breadwinner role. As long as this is still true, they will have a hard time entertaining the idea of scaling back their hours or their earning potential in order to make room for time at home on par with their wives’. Hence, their stress in balancing it all. As the study shows, they are slowly experimenting with flexible work, albeit mostly in a ‘stealth’ fashion rather than in clear-cut reduced hours or work-from-home/flexible shifts. But over time, we think we’ll see men get bolder in their requests for the work schedules and jobs that allow them to make a ‘good enough’ living but be home with their kids too.

    Along the way toward this metamorphosis in fatherhood, it will help to shine a light on role models – men who have achieved unusual work arrangements in good careers for the purpose of being with their children and living balanced lives. The idea that men want to truly enjoy and dive into fatherhood is their first step toward making the ‘sacrifices’ to achieve this. And once a new father and mother experience the intimacy of equal parenting together, chances are those sacrifices will seem small prices to pay for living the way they want.

    Our goal in maintaining our website (www.equallysharedparenting.com) and writing our book (Equally Shared Parenting: Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents) is to help parents – both fathers and mothers – with the practical ‘how to’ of this equal partnership. It isn’t easy, even with rapidly changing fatherhood expectations, to circumvent cultural and workplace norms and hold onto your dreams. But it is fully possible, and equally rewarding for both partners.

    Best,
    Amy and Marc Vachon

    Any stay-at-home dads out there who would like to weigh in? -- LMA

    Posted by LMA June 24, 10 12:00 PM
  1. My day as a SahD...My wife works during days (35 hrs a week).

    -Everyday, even Sats and Suns, wake up (when I get to sleep since I work nights then it is on no sleep or 3 hours sleep) at 6-630 am with both kids (3.5 and 4 3/4 years old) feed, change, dress then, clean dishes from night before, pack kids lunches (on the three days when they have three hr. nursery school)

    take them to school about the time my wife is leaving for work (even though she goes by kids school she says she is too rushed to get to work to drop them off).

    Come home, vacuum, clean kitchen, do laundry, outside chores in summer winter spring and fall, go back to school to pick up kids and then spend next 7 hours finding fun stuff for us to do from parks, to boston, to library, to museums, to swim lessons, to gymnastics, to those absolutely awful play dates, to skating, to skiing, to walks and many many bike rides etc (I am not a dad by Television person in fact I believe in leading by example so It I say outside to play we all go out).


    Around 5 back home, cook dinner, bathe boys, get them ready for bed. Wife comes home tired needs to change and relax for a bit. Then I get kids ready for bed (wife helps with teeth brushing). We read stories and then I am commanded for another chapter of our bedtime story (I have figured it out I have told 800 or more stories as in the almost 5 years I have had kids I have only missed three bedtimes.

    (Keep in mind for the first year or my eldest son I brought him to work for the first year with me til the boss said no more when No. 2 came around 16 months later).

    I also work between 40-60 hours a week. I teach COMM. 105, 215 courses, I have a weekly sports column, I also work nights at a local hospital's pediatric emergency department.

    During the weekdays if I have worked the night before i get home in time to take kids to school, then weekends even if I have worked there are the birthday parties, family trips strawberry picking, etc

    Then there are the weekly or bi monthly trips (3hrs) to my Moms for an overnight, The kids love it and since they were tiny little dudes I (solo) have brought them in all kinds of weather on these 24 hour trips to the back-end of the Commonwealth.

    For father's day my wife let me sleep in and cooked pancakes and bacon with the kids. But the kids woke me up because they wanted to tell me they were taking me to Toy Story 3 for Father's Day which is fine since they are world champion cuddlers and there is no better feeling than that on Father's Day.

    Why do I do it? Since I only have them for a short time I want us to squeeze every last drop of this amazing life together. I think as a Dad once you start out by saying well I do this so you should do that you lose. Your wife loses and most importantly your kids lose.

    It took me about two years of absolutely no sleep to get into this new role, a role I never ever considered as being my life at 42, but now that I am here, I tell you, it is like I am stealing time.

    I spend more time playing, doing arts and crafts, laughing, playing soccer, skiing, chasing, that I ever have in my life. Each day is actually an adventure and I get to be Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Now that is what being a stay at home dad is all about. Ain't life grand?

    Posted by Christopher S. June 24, 10 01:17 PM
  1. As a Stay at Home Dad for the last 4 years I can say that the article is right on point. I have learned that staying at home is much, much-- did I say much-- more difficult than going to work!

    I feel there is a double standard from women regarding stay at home dads and their contribution and reasons for being a stay at home dad. This is also applicable to men who somehow feel that what I do makes me wimpy or that something is wrong with me....

    It is not easy but has its advantages. I get to see my daughter grow up and be involved in every step along the way. This is definitely a blessing that I am very grateful for!


    Posted by Ken B. June 24, 10 03:33 PM
  1. Oh, I forgot to mention that I have been documenting my experience as a Sahd on my blog. It is www.MemoirsOfaStayatHomeDad.com

    Posted by Ken B. June 24, 10 03:34 PM
  1. DAD: We're talking about reverting back to our old arrangement (husband leaving work and staying home with DD again). If that happens, maybe you two could get together. You sound JUST like him and he had the exact same experiences.

    It might help you both to hang out with the kids and be able to just be.

    Posted by Phe June 24, 10 04:43 PM
  1. So, I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband takes over with our toddler when he gets home most nights. It seems fair, as I would have to put off all the evening chores until she went to bed if he didn't. Then I'd be working until 9-10 while he came home ate dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening, as his father would have.
    My husband works hard and is a good dad, and I appreciate that he realizes being home is also hard work.
    Ok, now that my one-way socializing is done for the day, off to toddler-ville.

    Posted by lala June 25, 10 08:35 AM
  1. From what seems like a dodo bird, a traditional family of 5, guy works, mom at home.

    1) Keeping score is generally a bad thing in a relationship. Endless "I did more than they did" tone in a relationship is generally very negative energy. I think it is much, much better to find a general equilibrium and lose the scoreboard that is tracking slights and faults of the other partner. When there is a score, someone is always losing and that is not good for a relationship.

    2) I am a committed Dad and I am also a committed bread winner. That means I accept the never ending challenge to be a good dad AND "fund the fun" by navigating a well paying career in these crazy economic times. My Dad's lifetime employment is a long lost artifact of a previous economic model. That means 50-70 hour weeks + 8hrs of commuting each week. Not including all the effort it takes to leave the job at the office, I think that is a full time gig by any standard.

    3) While my wife is amazing at many things, and truly embraces the stay at home part, in the end, that is her "job" in our world. I don't come home complaining about my 12 hour day or the political BS that is driving me crazy. To be honest, while I personally would hate to do all that laundry or fix lunches or carpool for hours, it is just part of the home "job". I hate big parts of my job too, just wash/dry/fold and get over it. Don't tell me I should feel bad that you are doing all our laundry for the 10th year, because no one is telling dad that he gets to feel bad for 10 years of battling software vendors or crazy bosses or layoffs. It is just the deal both people accepted.

    4) I think the difference in perceptions is from 2 vs 3 above. When I am home from work, I feel that I clearly share 50-75% of the family work, be it cooking, cleaning, lawn, garden, playing catch, etc. etc. Does that mean I do 50% overall, how could it? I am out of the house 70hrs a week. I am sure she would say I do a small part of the "chores", but in reality, when I am there, I am more than an equal partner. At home folks can't discount their responsibilities as "he should help with this" and complain about "equal" without disrespecting the effort going on to bring home the money that pays for the family.

    The real objective comparison of effort for a single income family is the balance between home "job" and income "job". By that standard, I think most single income family guys today are more than holding their end of the deal, and our job never gives us a hug or kiss or says “can we play in the sprinkler today”. We do 10 times more than our Dad's did at home while working ever more demanding jobs in extremely uncertain times. I think that is pretty significant positive change in a single generation.

    Posted by happydad June 25, 10 11:15 AM
  1. I'm a stay at home dad and my wife doesn't do nearly as much as I do. Laundry is me, dishes and cooking is me, yard is me, she is attached to the floors being clean so she does that. She needs to step her game up for sure.

    Posted by Portland Dad June 25, 10 04:13 PM
  1. I'm a stay at home dad. My job is to do cooking, cleaning, laundry, transportation of children, etc. However, I also pay the bills, do the lawn, shovel the snow, fix the cars, no not me personally, I coordinate the repairs :). Much more importantly, however, it is my job to nurture and care for my kids during the _day_.

    My wife works 60-70 hours a week. That is her day job. I don't want her to worry about things at home. Still when she is home, she helps out with everything. In the evening she helps with the care and nurturing part. We share that job in the evening. I don't need (or want) her to come home and do laundry. As someone above wrote, we don't expect 50 / 50 of the house work. That would be absurd given that she is working 60 hours a week already.

    It was hard at first to live up to her expectations. Hardest was to know that the kids clothes needed to match and their hair needed to be perfect...so that they looked like pottery barn kids. We've come to compromises on what is needed and what is not. However, beyond those little things, I am the much neater parent and I find my self cleaning up after her often. All comes with the job.

    Posted by bv June 26, 10 10:56 AM
  1. Hmm....Ladies I wouldn't assume these studies to be so wrong. My wife pretty much doesn't do much, at home.

    I work a full time job, do most of the cooking, cleaning and do all the fixing.

    She works full time, so no complaint there; but the extent of her 'housework' is occasionally starting laundry that I almost always have to finish, doing the occasional cooking and cleaning for her little 'girlfriend parties' she likes to throw on 'glee night'. At these events, I'm not invited to eat, or if the event is not at our house she takes it with her...which I'm not allowed to touch before hand, so I get to fend for myself either way.

    A conservative estimate is that, amongst household work, I do about 75% of everything.

    Most of her free time is spent watching bad bravo realty shows....I hate that network.

    To be clear I don't mind cooking or cleaning, but I WOULD like to at least equally share the duties.

    When people ask I have sometimes said something like: 'Oh, I do allot around the house.' She'll just agree. When I tell my friends the 'rest of the story', within earshot of her I'm sure to get a dirty look and / or a refute of: 'That's not true!'...and of course an earful later.

    She is getting a little better about it as time goes by (we haven't been married that long)...so hope springs eternal.

    Posted by Mike June 28, 10 04:32 PM
  1. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the first 2 1/2 years of our parenting life (son is 2 1/2, daughter is 1.) We are switching it up this fall, and I am going back to work as a public school speech therapist and he is going to stay at home. Many reasons... my schedule will give us a lot more time together as a family, he wants to spend more time with the kids, we think it will help us relate more to each other, etc. My question for all you Dads that stay at home is... how do I avoid the pitfalls of nagging him and bossing him to death? You know it's going to be hard to watch him learn his own way, when I've figured how things work really well... besides "let him do it his way" and "shut your mouth" are there some specific peices of advice you can give me, things not to do, or things to do, to be supportive and not annoying while he is figuring this out??

    Posted by A June 29, 10 11:38 PM
  1. A - Great question. I think the secret is to decide which things are "must haves" and which are "nice to haves". By all means, nag him about the "must haves". Good nutrition, seat-belts, dental care, adequately clean house. Try to avoid nagging on the "nice to haves". He may not do everything the way you would like it if you were home. Our big debate is the clothes that our kids wear. I make sure it is weather appropriate. She wants them to match. You just need to decide if this is a fight worth having.

    Finally, I would just have you remember that there are things that he did at home when working (perhaps..I am going out on a limb here) such as mowing lawn, shoveling snow, etc, that he will continue to do while at home. Don't expect that once you go back to work, he can continue to do everything he did in the evening as well as everything you did while at home. Lets face it, you didn't have time to do those things when you were at home. IF you want him to continue doing those things too, you'll need to be helping out too. However, in my experience of stay at home dads, the moms are always willing to help out at home in the evenings. I cannot say that the opposite is true.

    Most of all, relax. Men can and will step up to the plate. If he chose to make this shift, he will be happy. And hopefully so will you.

    Posted by bv July 1, 10 09:05 AM
  1. I am a stay at home dad and my wife is a teacher. i admit that i do not clean nearly as much as i should when she's at work, but when we had a yard and a house i did everything to keep the property in shap but that does not count as work to most women. watching my 19 month old son is a heck of a chore and she comes home and i want to get away from our kids she complains saying she's delt with kids all day too, but its different ... there not her kids and she does not dicsapline them plus they are older.... she gets to leave work and i dont im still at home still with kids, even during the summer when she would get summer school break. she doesnt and wont try to understand how i feel about it.... all she every says is that she watch her daughter alone when she was born and she knows how easy/hard it is but that is different being on baby leave when the child is very young and then you go back to work. i was home then too and it is harder now at 19 months then it was as a newborn. i get so mad cause to her watching our son and staying home to her is easy and i should have the house spotless when she comes home!!

    Posted by j. matthews August 21, 10 03:21 PM
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about the author

Lylah M. Alphonse
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.

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