Originally published: April 6, 2011
It is absolutely stunning to me the number of families I see mired in centuries-old thinking. You know, where the husband or male head of the house is the ‘breadwinner’ and by virtue of that title does not engage in many (if any) household activities. And where the female, second head of the house, is either a stay-at-home parent or works (full-time or part-time) and is still fully responsible for the children’s needs, household chores and meal preparation.
The resentment is evident. The seething apparent. The sarcasm — masking nothing. And it is so unfair to all parties involved —- especially children.
It’s a vicious cycle in my opinion that starts with parents who allow their kids to be dependent or who are inconsistent in instilling a sense of independence in their children — and there is a difference. The old adage is “don’t do for kids what they can do for themselves.” Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Otherwise you may end up with a 40-year-old male or female that cannot assemble a meal for themselves or their kids, clean a bathroom or (horrors) go grocery shopping without getting a play-by-play on the phone from their other half.
My informal study of this issue has found that boys, in particular, will gladly allow girls, women, their mothers to run circles around them (cooking, picking up after them, ironing, laundry, you name it), if these women choose to do it. Who can blame the boys? I would do the same. So ladies, moms, grandmothers — STOP IT. You are feeding the behaviour and it’s producing virtually helpless men.
What’s worse is this behaviour, in many cases, becomes modelled by children. So history, in all likelihood, will repeat itself. The cycle of frustration and resentment will prosper and flourish, producing frustrated spouses who may have visions of placing their spouse at the curb when the men in the big truck stop by in front of their house (!!!). The humour aims to lighten what is an absolute reality and the source of disagreement and in some cases divorce many families.
The solution seems simple, “stop doing for children, what they can do for themselves.”
Of course it is easier to do things for them — it’s faster, less frustrating, more neatly or properly executed — but what does that teach them? Dependence? A double-standard mentality?
The good news is THEY WILL LEARN. It make take a while, but THEY WILL GET IT. And you will be, hopefully, laying the foundation for an independent, non-dependent thinker. Yeah! And, hopefully, that will eliminate the whole collection of 30 and 40-somethings who feel they “can’t” cook, dust, do laundry, clean a bathroom, mow the lawn, barbecue, use a screwdriver, take care of their children by themselves.
And for couples hoping to have children, don’t think the arrival of a newborn will FIX the issue. It will only make it worse so be forewarned.
Not only is this kind of dependence or helplessness irritating and an excuse, it is at the very core a shining example of disrespect. It takes all members of a family working together to keep things running smoothly. Just like the minivan.
The days of gender-specific tasks were done a few decades ago now. Good riddance.
So please stop complaining and break the cycle.