The Domesticated Man

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“We’ve managed to intergrate women into the workforce but not men into domestic life”

The above quote comes from a recent article in the Atlantic, entitled ‘Why Dads Matter’.

Without a doubt, we’ve come a long way in family and gender roles in the last 60 years. Women can enjoy climbing a career ladder, should she chose. Men can enjoy showing open affection and love to his children. Partners of both genders aren’t scared to participate in domestic chores.

From the get-go, this post isn’t about women. We can all agree that women do an amazing job, that a women’s place is NOT in the home (whilst many families do chose for a mum to be a stay-at-home-mum or only work part time) and that being a stay at home parent is hark yakka. I don’t want to detract from the amazing, dedicated work that ladies do for their families, often at the expense of their own happiness. Sorry ladies, this post isn’t for you. This post is about men.

It seems that much argument in modern literature on marital relations seems to be the division of household labour. It seems to have reduced marriage to ‘doing what’s fair’ in a relationship, certainly in and around the home.

The modern man finds himself torn between his responsibilities of working and providing, yet being the ‘hands-on’ father and husband so often expected by todays ladies.

I want to put this delicately. There’s no doubt that men need to have a level of domestication. It’s important to know how to use appliances, cook a few meals, be a hands on dad. What we don’t need is an extra mother and wife in the house. A man should be free (as should a woman) to express his manliness in his home, with his wife, with is children. I’ve seen many instances where a man has been chastised for being too rough, for not doing washing in the ‘correct’ way, for not cooking the healthiest meals.

I’ve written before on the importance of a man being able to have time off. I guess this is a follow on from that. I want to encourage men that they don’t need to parent the same as their wives. Most certainly, both parents need to be on the same page in relation to parenting – discipline, standards, ethics, beliefs etc. But the way this is exhibited between the sexes is very different.

The industrial revolution saw men being removed from their houses, their wives and their children. Cities saw men commute to work, to not having an ongoing, daily influence in their children’s lives. No longer did the son work the fields with dad, or spend time learning tools, hunting or appropriate gender roles. The dad was separated from his son, the son his father. Dad’s influence was reduced to a short period of time during dinner, before bed and on the weekend. Formalised education saw boyhood exploration diverted to rote learning. I’m not suggesting for one second we do away with formalised education – this is and will be an important for all humanity.

Men, it’s not the level or amount of domestic chores you do that will teach your children life lessons. Doing and being a part of domestic life is important, yes, but it’s not the be-all and end-all for fatherhood. Your children will need learn appropriate domestic responsibilities, yes. It’s not, however, the mark of a man. It’s the quality of relationship you have with your wife and your children that will leave its mark. It’s how you love and respect your wife that will make the most impact on your children, not the amount of ironing you do. Sometimes that will involve being very involved with domestic chores, yes.

Men, you can teach your children by involving them in your pursuits, your goals, your passions and being involved in your children’s goals, passions and pursuits. You can teach them the value of a days labour. Of having a goal, setting goals and getting results. You can teach them about how to respect the environment while in the great outdoors. You can teach them about spirituality while fishing. You can teach them about respect for themselves and family as you show them how to tend a yard, build a garden or help a neighbour.

The above quote talks about men being ‘integrated’ into domestic life. I don’t like that saying. I’d rather men compliment domestic life. For me, the term ‘integrate’ just seems to devalue the unique perspectives and approach men have to family life. Men, listen to and love your wives. Support them in all the choices you make together, whether she be at home full time,, working or a mixture of both. A home is where everyone can express their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears – without fear.

I’m not talking about us men ruling the roost with an iron fist – not one iota. I’m saying that it’s appropriate to be a man in your house. Don’t be awkward about your masculinity. Embrace it. Love your children, love your wife. Be a man and don’t try to copy your wife in all she does around the home. You’ll end up treading on her toes and annoying her!

Men, enjoy your masculinity. We weren’t created the same as women – we’re different. Don’t try to be the same. Compliment your wife in all she does, don’t copy what she does.

Different thinking? Yes. I think different thinking is good, just like men and women are different!

Above photo is of Robert F. Kennedy, sourced from mediagallery.usatoday.com

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18 comments

  1. angelwanderer

    Thanks for the post. I find equality an almost impossible ideal to match. The harder we work for it, the further we move away from it. Nevertheless, the dream is worth romancing. -A

  2. TJ Petri

    I have made the mistake of trying to imitate mom, in my 2 years at home with 3 kids while she worked. I ended up looking rather foolish trying to make the triangle that I am look like a circle that she is. I found that my kids love me because I love them. Not just what I say, what I do. Respecting their mother is a great start!
    Tj

  3. aviets

    You make a very good point. My husband was a stay-at-home-dad for a number of years, for which I was very grateful. It was hard for me to let go of the full-time parent, and hard for me to let him do things his way when I couldn’t be there. But our kids benefited richly because he was such a hands-on and fully-involved parent.
    -Amy at http://www.momgoeson.wordpress.com

  4. genevieveaamel

    Totally agree. Men have different roles in a family, the back bones, the leading role, etc. I found men from my father era are more dominant in family while younger man can sometimes lose their masculinity, not being responsible enough or grow mature enough to actually ‘lead’ a family in the right direction. I wonder if it’s caused by less pressure men are getting nowadays, as women’s emancipation slowly changed perspectives on personal roles in relationship, or family. I do hope men out there understand the importance of ‘growing themselves’ in order to grow a family. Love your posts! 🙂

  5. nicoletorg

    Great post. I can completely agree being as I work full time as my husband goes to college full time. Its a bit of a trade off when it comes to house duties being he is home more than I am. After an argument or 2 we finally leveled out and now he takes on more house chores, making the flow of everything much smoother. Its a transition and egos some times get in the way but with communication and openness, no “chore” or role should be depicted based on gender. 50/50 all the way. Thanks for the read.

  6. Lucas J. Draeger

    Quite well said. It took me over 10 years of marriage to start to get this. It hasn’t been easy for her (or me) to change our thinking, but it’s made a world of difference.

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