Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Male and Female Roles Raising a Family

There is a serious problem going on in most families - Mommy anger, rage, irritation, resentment and annoyance.The way in which today's average family breaks down the roles held by women and men is seriously broken in many families.  I believe the inability to fairly and equitably break down responsibilities is one of the reasons divorce rates are so high

Ever since giving birth and choosing to stay home with Lucas and Mya, I have been monitoring, building and assessing my role as the Mom in this family.  I have been watching other families navigate this division of labor and I have seen some serious flaws.  This is not a minor issue in most Mom's lives.

Basically, it boils down to this .... many, many women are doing it all in their families and the anger and resentment that builds as a result is dangerous.  Many Mom's feel as though they are singlehandedly holding their families on course and that lonely place is not something to be cherished.

I could write on this topic forever (and I may just have a seminar or book evolving here) because it encompasses so many dynamics.

Even Dr. Phil is weighing in on this issue and I appreciate much of what he said about it the other day - he seemed to sum it up by saying it is necessary for many women to lighten up and it is equally necessary for many men to step up.

Like most things in a marriage the solution likely lies in the husband making an effort to move closer to the woman's position and the wife moving to meet her husband in a place closer to his stance.  Compromise, negotiation, acceptance, communication .... sounds so simple, yet it is not happening in many families.

Stay tuned as I explore this topic and possible solutions - there is much work to be done here.Please comment if you have some experience with this issue or suggestions for making it right.If I could identify and communicate a clear path of ease I would be so thrilled.It needs to be different.

28 comments:

Maria said...

I have shared this thoughtful insight with my niece......new Mom-to-be next March.

Catherine said...

How great for your niece if she can establish something healthy and strong at the beginning! It is pretty clear to me that marriage (in particular) and parenting is outdated and no longer working the way it needs to.

Christine said...

Oy! This has certainly been an issue in my house. I like that...lighten up, and step up. That certainly would solve a whole world of problems wouldn't it! Well said :)

Catherine said...

I'm not sure I've heard of a family where it's not an issue ...

Ardell said...

There was an exercise done on one talk show (can't remember which one) that I would LOVE to do. A husband and wife each held a tray and the expert or host put paper lunch bags of sand (varying weights based on time) for each task that that person routinely performed. By the end the man was easily holding only a few bags on the tray while the woman's tray was so full that bags were falling off and it was so heavy that she could not support the tray. I think this would be a powerful visual.

carefree_mommy said...

Fascinating topic...to women anyway. This very issue led to a divorce for me, even if I was a working mom, even if I was not a perfectionist.
Carole D

Amber @ BecauseBabiesGrowUp.com said...

Thanks for bringing this topic to light. It also helps me feel less guilty when my husband comes home and makes dinner because it's all I can do to just get the lunch dishes cleared off the table! But for all he does, which is more than a lot of husbands, I still feel that resentment from time to time.

The Doctor is in said...

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Church-of-Jesus-Christ-of-Latter-day-Saints/69667017800?ref=share

kw23sunflower said...

Wow! That is so my family. My Hubby is sleeping on the lounge. The two kids are playing making toy mess everyway. There is three piles of folding i was just to tired to fold yesterday to be done. I went to bed at 11pm and my Hubby went to bed at 1am this morning. I get up at 5:40am to our two and three year old and he sleeps in till 7:30am. The floors need to be vacuumed and mopped still and its 3:30pm

Anonymous said...

great post! I did catch an apostrophe error, however. Apostrophes are to show possession, not to make things plural.

Anonymous said...

I am a man. I am a Mormon. There are many things I want to say. There are things I cannot say...There are things that I would say and expect no one to listen. There are things that If heard, I couldn't be sure they would be cared about...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this is the norm nowadays. Today's men are almost universally falling down on the job. There seems to be an upswelling of men that are too focused on the computer and/or video games. They are staying up to the wee hours to play uninterrupted, and therefore sleeping all the time to compensate. There is no responsibility as fathers, husbands, or adults anymore. I'm sorry, but women need to establish with their men, BEFORE marriage that the laundry and dishes and cleaning will be the responsibility of BOTH partners, and once married, they need to enforce those rules. And when the children come into the picture, women need to spread that responsibility, too, and not just hog it all because babies are awesome.

Yes, it is good to be a strong, independent woman. However there really is no such thing as wonder woman, and you can't take care of everything yourself. Be strong, and keep on your men, and be appreciative of the good ones that do their share and help you with yours. Your spouse is supposed to be your helpmeet, not a slave. and that goes both ways.

Cu2Mf6pzyvUvbzgOezyn.1eGFustKw-- said...

The home is a woman's responsibility. That means that the woman cleans the house and looks after the children and prepares the food.

The man's responsibility is to ensure that the family has a roof over its head and food to eat.

Why is that women now-a-days are unable to cope with a household when they have so many household appliances?

They no longer have to wash clothes by hand. Many don't even wash dishes, instead they fill the dishwasher. They use a vacuum cleaner instead of brush and shovel. And the list goes on.

They have so many modern conveniences and yet they complain more than ever that their load is so heavy.

I really don't understand how it is that with so much more so many women can do so much less.

It really looks like the mothers are failing in our society, and we are becoming a weaker and lazier society because of it (and in this I include the men).

Anonymous said...

Well cu2.....

Women are asked to do so much more then they use to. Example, most family did not have 20 different pairs of clothes for each person 80 years ago. They had school clothes and work/play clothes and maybe church clothes.

Are society thinks that we need to run ourselves until we are ragged, we need to de-clutter and slow down.

I am single but I look at the women role models in my life and yes they seem like wonderwomen most days with the list of things they complete.

I think it need to be equal in responsibility. How about fold laundry together when he gets home and talk at the same time. Then maybe you both can go to bed at the same time. Or cook together etc... I know from my dating experience that the nights we cooked together and not just him coming over we had a wonderful time and talked, laughed and just had more fun.

I agree the the video games. I see people who stay up for 12 or more hours on them, it is scary, I see that they can be fun but as a one day future wife and mother I don't think I will have many video games in my home for that reason. Games that are more group oriented maybe.

Catherine said...

Wow - a hot topic here! Thank you to everyone for responding. Of course, resolution can't really be found in the comment section of a blog, but hopefully readers can find things to consider. The beauty of reading is that you can take what works for you and leave the rest. I am honored to have your feedback.

Anonymous said...

I am a stay at home mother and I completly agree with the I completly agree with the post previous to the one about having modern appliances. Women today have so many modern things to help life easier. We should not complain and thank the lord for these things to help us. Have any of you read the Lds proclamation to the family? It clearly states men and women roles.
Take one day at a time, and "organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing....." Pray for the strength and attitude a mother should have. Love your husbands and when you need help, go to him with a prayer in your heart to soften his and explain kindly that you need a little help. Pray together so you can compromise and understand each other. Give all you can to your family! And don't be selfish with your time. Give all your time to your family and you will be happy. Ask heavenly father for strength and compassion, and don't forget to read your scriptures!

For all women I would also suggest reading Dr. Lauras "Proper care and feeding of husbands."

Anonymous said...

They don't understand until they retire and by then you really could care less

Anonymous said...

Wow I must be a very blessed woman...my children are grown (18 and 22) and I work full time, my husband works part time and is going to school full time....we really share most of the household responsibilitys..he used to be a chef so actually loves to cook...whoever is home first gets dinner!! We cook together every 6 weeks or so to make a huge batch of meals for the freezer..so its easier during the week!!!
Its all about working together and putting in an equal effort and thinking of the other person and the other person thinking of u:)

Brigham Alcorn said...

This was kind of a thought-provoking article. I'm newly married. A year and a half. My wife is a stay at home wife. And sadly, I see her doing more around the house than I do... Like yesterday. She spent hours trimming and pruning back rosebuses and othe plants that have gone wild. But it is what she wanted to do. If she would have asked me, I would have done it. But she enjoys it. She enjoys mowing the lawn. And she enjoys the freedom afforded to her as a stay at home wife.
Sometimes she gets bored and wants a job, but then she started school, and in my opinion thats a better way for her to spend her time than being a clerk at the local kwik-e-mart.
But your article has made me feel like I need to be a little more proactive at home... Yeah, I fix things. I keep the car working. I keep money in the accounts. But I could probably do more to make our house a home... Thank you.
Brigham

Ann-Marie said...

I think that if couples are sharing the responsibilities, it brings them closer. This way they can understand each other more, see how the other persons day goes and fully appreciate the work that they do.
My brother and his wife are a perfect example of this. He works full time and she is a full time student. They take turns preparing dinner, doing the dishes, cleaning up, etc. They may have communication problems at some times, like any other married couple, but when it comes to work and chores they understand how each other feel.
These days, you can't expect a woman to clean the entire house, do all the laundry, help the kids with their homework, and prepare meals. Especially if she has 6 kids, like my elder sister and my mother. My mother would do everything for us, while my father would go to work - come home - and play video games. That's hardly equal responsibility if you ask me.
Men and women both should be more sympathetic of the other's circumstances. If I knew my husband realized the work I put in, and sympathized, i'd feel less resentment because I'd know he is grateful for it - and visa versa.

Anonymous said...

I think many times the men do not receive the credit they are due when this topic comes up. Yes, stay-at-home moms do have a large burden of housework and caring for the children. BUT, men also have a large burden in working full time and earning the money to pay for that home and feed those children. I believe that many women start feeling sorry for themselves because they can only see the work that they do and do not consider that the work their husbands do is just as difficult. A few years ago, my husband lost his job and was out for two years. I had to go back to work full time, and we spent a year in total role reversal. I quickly gained an appreciation for the effort of maintaining a full-time job along with a family. I used to get upset when he could not remember all the items on the family schedule, but after taking his place, I realized how helpful it was to have someone at home maintaining the schedule for me. Yes, some men spend too much time on the computer. Yes, it is nice when the husband helps around the house. But when the man is working full time to support the family, women should not expect the division of labor to be equal, or even close to equal. You each have your job, and each job is equally important to the maintenance of the overall family.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an important topic! I really do think this is as important of an issue as you are suggesting, and think there is a book/lectures potential here. By the way does the Sister with kids 18 and 22 realize that her husband is gay? (Sorry, couldn't help myself)
Cudos to the reccomendation of Dr. Laura's book, "The Care and feeding of Husbands" Excellent read for this topic. DaveK

Roxanne Dicke said...

There is sometimes an assumption that this is a matter of "obvious" division of labour--stay-at-home mom's should do A and working Dad's should do B. This in itself is problematic (anyone who has children KNOWS that the housework and other incredible responsibilities do NOT follow a 9-5 schedule first of all). This scenario requires further thought--one of the problems inherent in the stay at home mom paradigm is that people assume it is "obvious" what she should be responsible for. And, oh my, it is so much bigger than how many modern conveniences like vacuum cleaners and dishwashers she may have in the home.

But also, it should by emphasized that many women facing this imbalance are working outside the home. Studies have shown that even when women are working outside the home they are still taking care of the majority of the domestic tasks ON TOP of working the same hours as their husbands. This is one of the areas in which resentments can build--if you are essentially both "working" then who does the work at home? And how can you divide it in a way that honours your spouse, you, and your children?

Both scenarios are imbalanced. Both need answers, though different models may need to be implemented. My husband and I have been "checking in" more regularly about it. Though we see it differently and have challenges, I have learned so much from our discussions. I am trying to alter the way I see "perfect" and have now also acknowledged that it is also so important to carve out time for health and well being alongside the housework. We are both learning--I am grateful we talk about it.

Thank you Catherine, for opening the dialogue for people. Maybe in your next post we could discuss more solutions (beyond pointing out how many "modern" appliances we have at our disposal. Sorry--still reeling from that post).

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Roxannes comments, but Catherine, I really like the way to intoduced the subject, get your responses and feedback first, then go from there...

I wonder if the "younger" couples suffer from a bit of "we-had-it all" itis when they were growing up in the 90's coupled along with a healthy case of "expectationitis".

I wonder if the origins of this resentment on the part of the sisters and the sloghful video gaming on the part of the husbands originate in part from the reality that what married life actually is verses what it was expected to be. If one never "steps up and lightens up" by making a healthy adjustment to the mostly unglamorous and thankless daily work of married and parenting life, I wonder if thes "non fairytale" are reflected later by husbands not "taking up the slack" and still trying to be boys on the internet, and wives who think their resentments and angers and general state of unhappiness and unfillment are wholly justifiable and fully blamable on third parties.

On the "modern day conveniences" issue..I was equally shocked at declarations of "higer demands made on women in modern society" That is certainly valid when the wife is working, and trying to do the rest. But otherwise...get over yourself, stop looking for some one else to blame for the bland results of the choices you have made. And men, Grow it, stop being a boy. You got the woman, you got the kids. Get off of the internet, and "step up"! Ooooh, speaking of which...I think I see one of my kids trying to drown another one...and I hear my wife burning rubber in the driveway on her way to her moms'...gotta go! David K

grandma anita said...

Sigh, I am sad to hear those sweeping judgments from "modern appliance man".

I have been exposed to similar comments many years ago. This mind set seems to be about "shoulds",and not about loving, listening, sharing, negotiating and respecting.

-A glimmer of hope--In recent years, I have observed a lot more daddy's being more involved in the lives of their children.

Barbara Fidler said...

I feel that most men do alot in the home. They really do care about their roles as a father. I have seen good examples in my life of fathers who step up and fullfill their duties; although I do see that sometimes their are dads who simply think the woman should do it all. when it gets unbalanced it usually ends up making the load extremely heavy, like doing to much laundry. I see that when a woman constantly feels overwhelmed and overworked then the family isn't happy. The woman sets the mood for the day in the family; if she's not happy everyone feels it; when she is the week goes alot smoother. We need to listen to each other, learning our needs and wants, try to share it evenly. If a husband wasn't feeling good, the wife could help out more and be understanding, vise versa. Having a family means sharing ALL the ups and downs in life.

Lilybeans said...

Boy! Where did all the crazies come from? The post about the appliances was very simple minded. FYI. I am a woman, and I use the "brush and shovel." My husband prefers to use the giant, industrial strength shop-vac. Both take the same amount of time. So there you go, that comment is rendered irrelevant. Then there was the comment about someone's husband being gay. Huh? What is that supposed to mean. Every man who can cook is gay? Every man who works part time and goes to school full time is gay? That one made no sense at all.

My husband has a job that pays money, and so do I. When things get crazy with his job, I go to work with him and help out. I work from a home office and when things get crazy with my job, he supports me in that if he can. We both appreciate the effort of each other's occupations.

Catherine, I think the answer is tied in with your previous post about feisty women. Fiesty women insist on fairness and equality. The men who marry them appreciate this, and thus are men worth marrying.

Anonymous said...

i am a father in which i am seperated with the mother of my child.we are seperated for many reasons but since having a kid together i go to work and watch our kid she goes out almost everynight and stays out she hardly ever watches our child. i work full time and as soon as i get out i beecome a father and a mother i do my childs laundry, change the diapers, make the bottles, and watch her after being beat from work. i just want it to be known that it isnt always the mother doing all the work at times it is swapped and the father is the one doing it all!!!