Do chores affect gender roles later in life?


Photo credit: clogozm / / CC BY

I read an interesting article last week which stated that “Boys With Sisters Are Less Likely to Do Chores When They Grow Up.” It’s an interesting piece, and has me thinking quite a bit about how the chores our kids see their parents do can affect what they feel they should do when they become adults themselves.

If our kids see Mom always cooking and cleaning, will they expect the females in their lives to be responsible for those duties later on? If they see Dad taking out the trash and managing the money, are those the things the boys will gravitate towards as adults?

In my opinion, there is a lot of truth in these statements, but there are also plenty of things about parenting these days that seem to avoid those gender boundaries. For example, I have all boys, and although I’m a terrible cook, none of them have expressed an aversion to cooking. They see their mother doing it and have all taken an interest in learning more. This might be the case partially because they don’t have female siblings, a dynamic that the article examines.

“Men with sisters appear to do less household work, even in middle age,” the authors wrote. “Men with sisters were 17 percentage points more likely to say that their spouse did more housework, suggesting that the gendered environment from childhood may have permanently altered men’s conception of gender roles.”

Gender roles certainly played a part in my own development. My Dad was not a handyman. He wasn’t into tools, tinkering with cars or even mowing the lawn thanks to allergies. So although I love my Dad and he gave me more than I probably deserved growing up, he never showed me how to fix a leaky sink, change the oil in the car or put together a birdhouse. These things led to a little tension in my marriage early on when my wife just kind of expected me to know how to do some of the handyman stuff, mostly because that is what her Dad modeled for her growing up.

So how are you modeling gender roles in your home when it comes to chores? And how are you delegating the roles? Are you giving chores to your son that are the chores Dad does, and chores to your daughter that are the ones Mom is usually responsible for?

I think it’s worth a little closer examination and some discussion. I’d love to hear about how things work in your home, especially if you have both boys and girls.


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