Silly Daddy, Only Mommies Cook and Clean!

As we all know, the Swedes do pretty much everything better than us and it seems that even their advertising is more parent focused, while ours remains caught in archaic gender roles.

As a mom, I see it every day. I am bombarded with ads for cleaning products and diapers and toys. I type the word "mom" into my search engine and suddenly I am inundated.

How have we come so far in so many ways and stayed so stuck in so many others?

I have a friend whose partner is a stay at home dad to their two children and he is often appalled at the commercials he sees on television. Dad is inept at best and gets to make instant meals while all the real cooking and cleaning is left to mom who sometimes shakes her head with bemused cheer:

"boys will be boys," she seems to say.



The ad above suggests that the only person who might want to do the cooking is dear old mom. There is no indication that perhaps the parents split the cooking. Imagine the difference if at the end of the equation there was a male head, too:

"Stress-free parents."

Somehow we have some so far in so many ways, but I still see my feminist female friends doing the buk of the cooking and the cleaning while their male spouses -- who often share the same education level -- work and do little else.

Dad is largely considered another child in the house, a rather oafish brute who can't get anything right. And yet so many men would like to be something more.

Sometimes it seems like it is every one's fault. Our culture at large rewards father for "showing up," praising a man for doing little more than taking a child to the grocery store. A recent article in Newsweek suggests that men are ready to reimagine themselves as well.

As the novelist Michael Chabon discovered on a trip to the grocery store with his son, society still expects very little from fathers. “You are such a good dad,” a woman told him as he waited in line to pay. “I can tell.” Exactly what she could tell was a mystery to Chabon, who recounts the story in his 2009 essay collection Manhood for Amateurs. But clearly no woman would earn kudos for toting her kids around the frozen-foods aisle. “The handy thing about being a father,” he later concludes, “is that the historic standard is so pitifully low.”

Indeed. And it is not fair to anyone. Not the mothers who feel overworked and under appreciated. Not the father who get treated in family courts like little more than ATM machines with legs. And certainly not the children who benefit so much from active fathers who take a real interest in their lives and homes.

It is high time we chucked our old ways aside and tried a new way of thinking.

What are the gender roles in your house?


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