New research into the idea of “maternal gatekeeping” shows how attitudes and actions by the mother may promote or impede father involvement.
“For women who insist they have the gold standard around parenting and housework, men just tend to walk away,” says Joshua Coleman, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco and Oakland. “They feel their own ideas about how the house should look or … how the children should be raised aren’t given equal share.”
Kenney presented research she co-wrote at a meeting of the Population Association of America over the weekend. The study of 1,023 couples from 20 large cities in the USA found mothers were protective of their caregiving and educational engagement with the child but were less so for playtime activities that “were not considered threats to the mother’s caregiving identity,” the paper says.
“Maybe he’s not more involved because mom is holding him back,” Kenney says.
I also believe this applies to just helping-out around the house in general. Women complain about how their husbands don’t do anything to help with the household chores, but never give a thought to the possibility that it is their reaction to that help that stops a man from offering it ever again. How many times has a guy tried to cook a meal only to be told he is just “making a mess.” Or attempted to wash a load of clothes only to be told how he is doing it wrong.
Now, naturally every gal reading this is going to think, “Please, I don’t care how he does it as long as he does it” but that, ladies, is just bullshit.
You do care. And you never hesitate in letting us guys know how we are not doing things the correct your way. Oh, it may be subtle. You may just refold the clothes the way you want after we are out of the way. Or maybe you will tell us, “Honey, you go watch your game and let me do this” instead of lecturing us on how stupid we are for not knowing how to even load a dishwasher the correct way. But one way or another we get the message and we just give up.
Of course then at some point in the relationship, you will start complaining to your girlfriends about how “Steve doesn’t do anything around the house” all the while ignorant of your own culpability in the whole thing.
Now, before you gals go all Beatrix Kiddo on me, I freely admit that some women do not do this to their men. A few gals actually love it when they come home from work and their husbands have dinner all ready for them. They enjoy that moment when they can just kick off their high heels comfortable, yet fashionable flats and sit down to a gourmet meal that has been cooked with or without any dirty pots and pans in sight or see a nice laundered, stacked and folded load of clothes no matter what temperature water was used.
But I submit that those women are the exception and a small one at that. They would rather criticize their husbands for not helping out than compromise their own personal preferences regardless of the fact that it turns a man off to helping. And then they just blame it on how lazy or uncaring their husbands are.
But that is also bullshit.
And the reason I know this is that I know that most men – husbands – are not lazy. We head off to work to help support a family every day with rarely a complaint to our wives no matter how much we may dislike our jobs. We do our stereotypical “man’s work” outside the house without the wife having to tell us to do so, which can be just as demanding on our poor backs, but is never as deserving of as much sympathy as loading a dishwasher. So there is no reason whatsoever to believe that we all of a sudden just get lazy when it comes to helping out with the so-called “women’s work” inside the house. Yet, studies indicate we do, so you have to ask why. And I just gave you the answer.
Well, my answer anyway. Which is the correct one.
Or not. Hell, I am just rambling here.