In our reading, “When Mom and Dad Share it All” by Lisa Belkin, we learn about families who try to divide parenting and housework equally and fairly, compromising around each parents’ job and home life/work preferences. But what determines true “fairness” in splitting chores? Does “fairness” mean that the chores are split 50/50 at all times, and are kept gender-neutral (cleaning and cooking does not always fall to the wife, for example)? I think that it depends on the individual family situation what constitutes as a fair divide of work. In the article, parents Amy and Marc work to create an equal split in home chores, but they allow their personal preferences to create possible inequality; Marc enjoys paying bills and mowing the lawn, while Amy loves to buy her children’s clothing. If both partners’ preferences and concerns are taken into account, then they could consider their splitting of chores “fair,” even if sometimes the work is split 60/40. What is not fair, however, is when chores are determined not by the parents’ preferences or availability, but by gender stereotypes. If the mother enjoys cooking, great! But if she prefers to share that responsibility with her partner, then that should be taken into consideration, and her partner should not refuse cooking based on gender (other situations, such as job times, etc. would be reasonable arguments against splitting that chore). Belkin writes how women often feel pressured by onlookers in their community to keep their households in order, because society says if there is anything awry, it is her fault, and not her partner’s. That too is unfair. Equal responsibility needs to be put on both partners in a relationship; what they choose to do with that responsibility is up to them, but “fairness” exists primarily when everyone in the relationship is putting in equal effort.
When Mom and Dad Share it All. Belkin, Lisa. NYTimes Magazine. 2008.