Married women aren’t the only ones in the family pulling a second shift of housework after a long day at the office. The nation’s daughters are too!
In its “State of the Kid” report, Highlights for Children uncovered this disturbing fact: girls are significantly more likely than boys to have chores.
That’s not good.
Even though well more than half of the kids surveyed said they were expected to do chores around the house, almost three-quarters of those were girls, while two-thirds were boys. Chore results were the largest gender difference in the 10-question national survey.
Highlights editor Christine French Clark said in a press release that the chore answers were unexpected.
“We were surprised by this gender difference in responses,” says Highlights magazine’s Editor in Chief Christine French Clark. “But Highlights receives and responds to more than 60,000 letters and e-mails from kids every year, and one of the things we know they often worry about is sibling conflict and fairness.”
What would be even more interesting to know is whether the bulk of that 10 percent difference comes from siblings — from within families — or from all-boy vs. all-girl families. Famously, the Duggars rely heavily on their daughters to take care of the family, while the sons get off the hook for the most part. But I’m curious about more typical families. Is there blatant sexism in the chore charts or is it something more subtle? Do older daughters, all told, frequently wind up doing more cleaning and caretaking than their younger brothers?
Also? Who’s cleaning up for that 30+ percent who don’t do any chores. Are those kids seeing Dad do anything, or only mom, or only hired help?
I’m lucky to have been raised by a father who understood women weren’t always treated fairly, and also a working mom and feminist in the days of fights for the Equal Rights Amendment. I was very aware of the notion of “women’s work.” While my mom still did most of any cleaning that got done, I have to say very little got done. We didn’t live in squalor, we just lived cautiously. Our effort was to not make messes in the first place. My sister and I weren’t expected to do much cleaning, but we still took on projects because playing with chemicals was kind of a blast.
My husband is one of three boys and, fortunately for me — and our kids — was raised by a rather lazy father with a very guilty conscience. The result? Boys that cleaned who turned into men that clean. So our kids — two girls and a boy — see a man get whipped up about clean floors and order, and a woman completely unaware of dust but manic about the bookshelves and crayon box.
We can’t swing hiring a cleaner, so my kids see — and help out with — what does get done. I hope that’s eough, because the last thing I want it to crank out kids who think laundry is a pink job and trash is blue.
Do you think some chores are only for girls? Know anybody who does?