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Gender Roles: I love kids, but I don't belong in the kitchen

Updated on December 1, 2014

I often consider myself innovative and contemporary, but I honestly foresee the division of tasks and responsibilities between my partner and I to be more traditional. This may be partially due to the way I was raised, as suggested by the social learning theory explaining how children internalize the standards learned from parents.

For instance, I expect to be a stay-at-home mother when I have a family because that is the role my mother served while my father worked overtime. In looking at the way my parents raised their family, I think the decisions they made and the way they divided responsibilities worked well. I also think it's valuable to have a parent around the majority of the time; my mom used to volunteer in my classes when I was in elementary school, and I think that was a positive thing for my development. I don't believe that it's best for children to leave them in childcare, which is often the option parents take when they both work.

However, it is also important to add that, after having a career, I would actually prefer to stay home and raise children than continue to work while having kids. I love children and enjoy being a positive force in their growth, though this is not necessarily to say that I will be the best parent to remain at home. For example, my partner is very good with children; sometimes I'm certain he knows more about parenting than I do, as he has more experience in caring for his young nieces. However, he already has a steady job as a computer engineer, while both of the fields I have been involved in - journalism and education - would bring in little income compared to his current salary.

Nonetheless, I would not be against taking on more egalitarian roles from time to time, such as him spending more time than usual with children, or me substitute teaching occasionally. Though I expect to raise my family very similarly to the way my mother had, I also hope to make changes based on what I have seen in our family; for instance, I want my future partner to spend more time with our children than my father did with us because I feel very close to my mother but not as much so with him.

While I expect the roles in my future family to be more traditional, I know there are some aspects of housekeeping for which I will not be wholly responsible, especially cooking! I also make mistakes when doing laundry sometimes, which is something my boyfriend never does. I think we will both do what we can in the household - I am somewhat better at cleaning than my boyfriend is - but I will not let pride or a sense of duty distort my awareness of my terrible cooking skills. I know I will not be responsible for two-thirds of the housework, so rather than blindly follow traditional roles, we will need to take our different strengths and weaknesses into account to efficiently split tasks.

Though my future partner and I will not equally share each role, we will likely divide responsibilities between each other so one is not necessarily doing more work than the other. However, I expect that a syncratic power pattern will likely emerge between us because even today, my boyfriend and I always ask each other what we think the best decision would be, though we take care of different tasks.

What I have learned about gender roles has not changed the way I want to raise a family; rather, it has shed light on what has shaped my plans. I now understand more about the dynamics of raising a family, which will be beneficial in the future when making decisions and communicating.


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