Thursday, May 22, 2014

I Wonder... A little about Gender Roles and Raising girls

Last night at dinner, we got on the subject of gender roles. My stepson made a comment that women were supposed to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for their family. At hearing this—I felt my cheeks get hot.  In my mind, I cursed him out. In real life I simply said, “well, we are a modern family.”
That comment got me thinking about a comment that my husband made a month ago. We were talking about P and what type of values, morals, and traditions we wanted to instill in her. My husband said, “Don’t you think she will have her gender roles all mixed up from watching our family?”
Let me explain our family to you. My husband was divorced, and while he was single he got used to cooking, cleaning, and laundering for himself and his son. While I was single I did the same. When we got married, I was more than willing to share in some of the domestic jobs around the home. Over time—my husband took over most of them. You should also know that my husband is a little bit of a control freak (love you honey). He likes things done his way—and can’t see why you would want to do them any differently. I will also admit that I am a bit lazy—or at least I was before I had my daughter. It didn’t take me long to notice that when I loaded the dishwasher—he rearranged it. He complained when I cooked because my dinners were too expensive. We are on a tight budget. So my mantra became, “if you think you can do it better, than by all means do it.” Slowly but surely, he took it all over. He does most of the cooking, he washes most of the clothes, and he takes out all of the trash. That is how it is. What do I do you ask? I take care of P and do P’s laundry. That is about it. There was a time before P was born that I also helped my step son with all of the homework. This was one of the reasons why my husband took over dinner. One of us cooked and the other did homework. It was a system that worked well for us. Now since having P—my husband has taken that over as well.  To be fair, he hasn’t had much homework in the last 6 weeks as school was winding down.

So—call me lazy. I’ll admit that I have it good.
I did grow up in what I consider to be a pretty traditional family. My mom did/made all the meals, laundry, and a lot of the cleaning. My dad did all the landscaping and took out the trash. The gender roles were in place as they traditionally are. Yet, I do not do these things.
I think that this is a misconception about our society today. If you have mixed gender roles in your family then your children will grow up to have mixed gender roles in their family. I do not think that this is the case necessarily. I think there are a number of factors that contribute to family dynamics. It is not all about what your mother did.

For instance—my husband grew up in a family with traditional gender roles too, yet he has taken many “female” jobs in our family. So he is contradiction to the rule as well.
I tend to think that if I raise my daughter to do laundry from a young age, then she will be more likely to do so when she gets older. If I raise her to cook with me, and to enjoy cooking, then she may be more likely to enjoy it later in life. I don’t think it is about what she does or doesn’t see me doing, but more about what she does or doesn’t do herself.
Values, beliefs, traditions, and gender roles do come from our upbringing. But I think they come from the ENTIRE PICTURE.
So, do I think that my daughter will have problems later in life because she sees that her father does a lot of the traditionally female jobs in our family? Not necessarily. I am more interested in whether or not she will know how to do these things for herself, then whether she actually does them. I want her to be independent and self-sufficient, but I do not want her to be the workhorse of the family.

I am new to this whole parenting thing… and I think a lot about how what we say or do might shape P. I want her to grow up to be a smart, caring, and strong woman. I want her to be a woman who knows her worth, and who won’t settle for anything less than what she deserves. I want her to love fiercely, be compassionate, and kind. I want her to be a good wife, and good mother to my grandchildren. And I do believe that she can be all of those things even if she does not make her husband’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

What do you think about gender roles and how important they are when raising our daughters?


  1. Sounds like Brandi and Jared are very similar in their wanting to be in "control."