Chore Wars: Who Does Most of the Parenting at Your House?

Posted on August 25th, 2011, 0 Comments

Moms and dads have never before had such balanced workloads. At least that’s what the data just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate.

In families with children under the age of 18, women do only 20 minutes more of combined paid and unpaid work per day than their husbands. Does this – the smallest difference ever reported – match the workload division in your household?

This summer’s chore wars brought back memories of the bargain I made with my husband years ago. For some time we’d been vacillating back and forth about whether we were ready to have a baby or not, when one of my friends with older children informed me that we were asking ourselves the wrong question. Rather than dithering about whether we were ready to have a baby in 9 months, she suggested we ask ourselves whether we were ready to have a teenager in 13 years.

Based on this inside knowledge, I agreed to be in-charge of our children until they became teens. At that point, it would become my husband’s turn to be the primary parent. The workload split at our house didn’t turn out as I’d bargained, but my friend’s advice was spot-on: Parenting a teen can make the labor associated with having a baby or toddler in the house seem easy.

I did most of the parenting in our household throughout our children’s growing-up years, but research shows that there are big advantages to having fathers actively involved in the parenting process. It’s particularly advantageous to have both parents’ sturdy presence during the teen years. Because, frankly speaking, teens are more difficult to deal with than younger children. The pressures teens feel can be a lot more intense. The risks they take can be a lot more dangerous. The trouble they can get into can be a lot more serious. And battling for independence tops their agenda.

Even though teen behavior hasn’t changed all that much over the years, the explanations for their behavior have changed. We now know that much of teen behavior is due to changes taking place inside their brains. Future posts will look at some of these explanations as well as at ways that you can add to your teen’s knowledge, shape their values, and guide them to wiser decisions and safer actions.

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