What Is Fairness? Dividing Housework and Childcare

Women are expected to do the housework and childcare. In the US, women with husbands and children often have to go to work along with taking care of their home and children. They usually receive little to no assistance from their husbands. “The wife-to-husband ratio for child care in the United States is close to five to one.” (Belkin) Even couples who decide to equally split the housework and childcare often run into difficulties. Because of the influence of societal norms, men may have less flexible work schedules and women may be judged more on the appearance of their home and children. So what is fairness in the realm of housework and childcare?

Fairness varies depending on the couple. The division should be discussed between the parents until a split that satisfies both is reached. While I believe that an equal split in housework and parenting is ideal, it is undeniable that each couple is unique, with a different situation and desires. Still, theory may not work in practice, which is why the couple should be open to negotiating the division again if someone finds themselves dissatisfied with how the split is playing out. Open communication is key to fairness in partitioning housework and childcare responsibilities.

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 15 June 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.


One thought on “What Is Fairness? Dividing Housework and Childcare

  1. coranc

    I really appreciate your observation that open, honest communication is necessary when making sure the division of labor in households is equal. For example, it would be easy to assume that the way to relieve the burden of housework on women is to split that work 50/50 between both partners. However, that may actually create more problems between partners since, as you point out, every couple is different. Some women, as Lisa Belkin points out in “When Mom and Dad Share It All,” feel “a particular form of gratification, when they are the more competent parent” (6). This means that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to stay at home and take care of the children and household, but only if she elects to do so through discussing it with her partner. Problems arise, I think, when one partner fails to consider the other’s wishes. The takeaway here is that we do not necessarily need to defy social norms, but rather identify the reasons for which we do or do not choose to follow them.

    Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” New York Times Magazine. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web.


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