The Importance Of Domestic Labor

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It is not a secret that women often take on the majority of the parenting/household responsibilities in heterosexual households. Sabattini explains, “With the birth of the first child, the division of labor between couples typically becomes more traditional as women assume the primary responsibility for both household and parenting chores …. Although most mothers work outside of the home, comparatively few fathers are equally involved in the domestic labor.” This is referred to as the “second shift” for mothers who have jobs outside of the home. Not only do mothers tend to do more of the parenting labor (figure 1), they tend to do more of the “feminine” work while their male partner’s do more of the “masculine” work. Specifically, mothers do more household chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and dishes. Fathers tend to do more masculine chores such as home repair, lawn care, and handling electronics. Mothers also tend to engage in more of the emotional labor of raising children. Mothers are more likely to handle emotional distress, social training, and discipline. According to Bush, “Dads approach parenting with different priorities than we mothers do. They tend to care less about dress, eating habits, and other details. Instead, dads tend to want to play with kids more and challenge them more, and this can help kids gain confidence.” Fathers are much less concerned with mundane, day to day tasks. This concept is displayed in the home life of most people.
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