Our Roles: Which Parent Does What These Days?

The past fertilizes the future.

our roles are confusing

I read — and shared — an article the other day about what roles today’s mom and dads play within their households. I was surprised by the conventional distribution of tasks cited in the article. It got me thinking about where we are on our path toward gender equality.

People of my generation are transitional. We grew up in an age where fathers did the traditionally male tasks and mothers the female. Now, of course, we don’t buy these gender delineations. Our formative years shaped us, though, and breaking out of old patterns requires conscious effort on our part. And it’s confusing.

In my case, it started early with my rejection of “manly” jobs I saw my dad being required to perform. In Doc’s case, it was just the opposite, with an embrace of her father’s handiness. Maybe this is because my father didn’t enjoy these this stuff like her dad did. Today, Doc’s the one in our house who enjoys repairing broken physical things, while I struggled last week just to mount a security panel on a wall, and did a pitifully crooked job. (I tried to get Doc to drill the holes — it’s her drill.)

While embracing her father’s skills, Doc didn’t reject her same-gendered parent’s role like I did, and she makes dinner five nights a week compared to my two. She can throw zero ingredients together to produce a great meal. I struggle laboriously to execute recipes that I have to follow religiously. She thinks I should try harder.

I am the household computer systems administrator — the fixer of broken virtual things — and I’m responsible for the lawn and the  driveway during the winter. But though I’ve run studios full of advanced recording gear, Doc won’t let me touch the kids’ laundry because she expects me to find it too complicated.

And then the article said mothers are the nurturers and fathers the disciplinarians. Wrong. Doc’s role is details and instilling competence in the kids. I’m Mister Big Picture who’s instilling a feeling of being loved.

I’m confused. Who are we and what roles are we supposed to play? Who knows what we really want to do, or should do? We’re eager to do everything at some times, and terrified to do anything at others. It’s not for lack of trying. Its that our philosophical goals are undermined by our damn biases.

Things will be much simpler in later generations, I’ve gotta think. Having not had their brains so twisted during childhood, they have to have a better chance. They’ll be able to figure out and do what they’re best at or want to learn to do.

Everything will still get done.