Dads, If You Want Your Daughter to Succeed, Do the Dishes
My daughter and I were driving to the store recently. She asked what we needed to get. I was telling her we just need some basic supplies; bread, peanut butter, milk. She then asked me why I never drink milk. I was surprised that she noticed. I don't like milk. Not for any ethical reason, I just think it's gross, always have. We have milk in the house, both the kids like it, but I just don't drink it.
My daughter's observation was a surprise because I don't walk around ranting about a hatred of milk, I don't even think about it, I just don't drink it. But she had been paying so close of attention to me that she noticed that of all the day-to-day things I do, I don't drink milk. More and more, science is confirming what many parents notice (sometimes too late) that how we act as a person has an enormous effect on the people our kids become.
An article from Smithsonian Magazine popped up online this week that reinforces that idea. According to a study of 300 Canadian children, boys and girls from 7 to 13 years-old. In households where the father does chores around the house, the daughters are more likely to have greater career aspirations.
Girls raised in families in which the father did equal or more chores than the mother...tended to report more aspirational career goals, including those considered stereotypically male, than girls raised in families with more traditional gender roles. The same effect held true if the girl’s mother was career-oriented.
After reading about the study, it make perfect sense. If girls, and I'd add boys as well, are raised in a home where dad does stuff instead of demanding the (already working) mom pick up after him, those kids will grow up with a basic sense of fairness. They will grow up with a better idea of how to take care of themselves. And they will grow into adults that don't believe any career, idea, hobby or activity is off limits just because of their gender.
I want to add, as many others have said in response to this study, that it should't take scientific understanding to encourage men to act like men and be a part of the home. If you are a loving, supportive partner, the kids see that, then they will want to be (and be with) that. To make a home work there are chores that need to be done, it doesn't matter who does them, as long as they get done.
There's no such thing as woman's work, there's just things that need to get done. In the real world everybody is busy and the Leave it to Beaver nuclear family myth is just that, a myth. It was also a myth when that show was on the air. It was aspirational marketing, held up as an ideal. Most non-rich fathers and mothers have always worked. I come from a long line of families where both parents worked, in and outside of the house. All the way back to the farm.
Breaking-down stereotypes is about allowing everyone to contribute to society in they ways they best can. It's not a coincidence that the greatest advancements in human history have happened through the 20th and into the 21st centuries when society has sought out contributions from a more diverse population. The best and brightest can come from anywhere, it's each generation's responsibility to widen the opening so more people can get through. So dads, do the dishes.