Men Do Twice as Much Housework and Childcare as They Did in 1965

Men Do Twice as Much Housework and Childcare as They Did in 1965

I sent this article to my intern. She set it up on the blog with the title “Study Shows Fathers Spend 50% Less Time on Parenting”.

I’m telling you this because it’s a fascinating microcosm of how statistics can be used to illustrate almost anything, depending on your perspective.

While more women are working full-time than ever before, that does NOT mean that this is what most women actually WANT.

The REAL reason I posted this article, of course, was not to illustrate that Moms are better than Dads at child-rearing – what constructive good could come out of that?

I posted this piece from Pew Social Trends to reveal that, in general, men and women have different thoughts about what they want their domestic lives to look like.

For example, “While a nearly equal share of mothers and fathers say they wish they could be at home raising their children rather than working, dads are much more likely than moms to say they want to work full time. And when it comes to what they value most in a job, working fathers place more importance on having a high-paying job, while working mothers are more concerned with having a flexible schedule.”

It’s important to emphasize this. While more women are working full-time than ever before, that does NOT mean that this is what most women actually WANT.

“Only 16% of adults say the ideal situation for a young child is to have a mother who works full time. A plurality of adults (42%) say mothers working part time is ideal, and one-third say it’s best for young children if their mothers do not work at all outside of the home.”

While my intern put the emphasis of the article on statistics like this: “Analysis shows that fathers devote significantly less time than mothers to child care (an average of seven hours per week for fathers, compared with 14 hours per week for mothers),” such statistics are incredibly misleading about the larger trends, which show that men are doing nearly three times more childcare than they were in 1965 and two and half times more housework, while working almost the same number of hours.

As for women, they’re doing 14 hours LESS housework and putting those hours instead towards PAID work, something that was far rarer in 1965.

The real fact is that, in order to have a successful partnership, SOMEONE has to work less and take care of the house and kids. And if you’re a career woman who does not want to take her foot off the gas, god bless you. No one is judging. It just means you’d better find a man who is willing to work part-time to handle domestic duties.

Or marry really rich, which is what most of my clients are still trying to do. 🙂

Read the report here and share your thoughts below.

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  1. 61

    WTF is going on here. I turn my back for a few days, and you guys run Helen off this blog?! Well whoever did this, you know who you are, you have pretty big shoes to fill now. She was one of the best contributors on here. I for one looked forward to reading her posts. Can you post something equally logical and informative to replace them?
    I came on this thread to respond to the comments that were made along the lines of “it’s in the women’s biology to stay at home”. I have absolutely zero tolerance for this argument. I’ve seen it used by husbands to justify not lifting a finger around the house. “how can I take care of our baby when I can’t breastfeed?” I’ve heard men say this to justify sitting around the house and watching TV the whole time they were home. But wait, it gets worse!
    As I’ve posted here before, I was a SAHM for about three years total, not by choice. This was not in the US. My home country didn’t have as much in way of labor laws and protection from workplace discrimination as this country does, for now. At my first job out of college, I was doing great and getting raises and promotions. Then I went on maternity leave. They hired my replacement before my baby was even born. They laid off every single woman in our group while I was on maternity leave. When I wanted to come back from leave, I was told to stay home indefinitely. On unpaid leave. I found a part time job as a secretary and did that for a while. Then my supervisor from my old job, found work at a local branch of a large software company and tried to bring me in. They told him no as soon as they heard my name. The company’s policy was not to hire women. You read that right. You could be the best professional in the world, but they wouldn’t even consider you if you were the wrong gender. And yes the management always provided a rational scientific explanation for their actions. Women aren’t biologically suited for work, their brains are different, they cannot get anything done, and so on and so forth. One of the reasons why I was excited about coming to the US was that I could finally go back to work here. I found work two months after coming here, and after six months in my new job, used my new work connections to find a job for my husband as well. Been working ever since, which now allows me to support a family of three (including one kid in college) pretty much on my own. My career took a bad hit because of the four-year gap, and having to start over at entry level, but I’m still doing fairly well under the circumstances.
    So, to the posters (especially women) that are going out of their way here trying to prove that women are better suited for housework and childrearing, not suited for work outside of home, and that there are biological reasons for that — I just want to make sure you realize that, with your arguments, you’re laying down the foundation for dysfunctional marriages where husbands cannot be bothered to pull their weight around the house; and for workplace discrimination to the point where women cannot get work just for the reason of being women. If this is the future you want, more power to you. I will be pushing back against it any way I can, though. Pretty sure I won’t be the only one.
    A little BG, my mother worked full-time all her life. So did my grandmother. My Dad spent a lot of time with me and working around the house when I was growing up, and never again said it wasn’t a man’s job. He was a manager with about 50 people reporting to him. My Mom had people reporting to her as well. The whole “women cannot work and men cannot take care of kids” concept is so bizarre and foreign to me. I can find no proof for it in any of my life experiences.

  2. 62

    Typo above in last paragraph. “never once”, not “never again”. My apologies.
    Another thing, @ Sparkling #24 — I, too, have seen my share of online mommy wars. Yes it gets ugly on both sides. But only one side accuses the other of being unfit mothers, doing permanent damage to their children, and neglecting their children just so their family could have more stuff. It is not about buying stuff. It is about using your brain and your talents that you happen to have been born with, to the best of your ability, which in many cases requires working outside of the house. It is also about making a difference and being a role model to your children, which also in some cases does require working outside of the house. As a mother, I certainly am glad that my children’s female teachers, pediatricians, gifted ed counselors etc were not guilt-tripped into quitting their jobs and staying home, as my children’s lives would’ve been much poorer without these women in them.
    Apologize for the long & double post. This is a sensitive subject to me.

  3. 63

    I understand that there are differing opinions and different ways of looking at things.  What I find objectionable and unfair is how the past is being used as an excuse to vilify men, as a gender, in the present. 
    How do would you feel if your past was thrown up at you as an excuse to make less of you so that someone else could call you bad and justify their position as a victim.  You can NEVER go back and change your past, and you can never, ever be forgiven.  Now imagine that the things you are being held accountable for are not even things that you have done.  Those things were done by other people but you get to shoulder the shame, blame, and guilt for it.  And all of this because you share something in common with the the ones who did those things.  Does that sound fair?
    So on a dating blog there is a post about a survey that was done showing how things have changed and how men are spending more time with their children and doing housework, and it is somehow an opportunity to again go on about how women have been suppressed for centuries… no, no wait make that millennia. 
    Sharing the personal feelings of guilt or struggles about being a working or stay at home mother seems very applicable – the vilification of men really doesn’t.  
    @ Goldie # 61
    I haven’t been here long so I don’t know what Hellen contributed but on this thread I have NOT seen the logical and informative posts you enjoy and I commented on those.
    As for the ”It’s in women’s biology to stay at home.”  I think that is ludicrous!  We love and nurture our children whether we are at home with them all day or work full time or any variation thereof.  
    I have the most remarkable mother ever!!  She went back to school in her forties and became a nurse practitioner, she went on to establish her own practice.  She is and was amazing.  I am starting back to school this summer and I too want to become a nurse practitioner.  So, I do NOT believe women are better suited for housework and child rearing than work outside the home.  

  4. 64

    “We love and nurture our children whether we are at home with them all day or work full time or any variation thereof.”
    Not necessarily true; some mothers kill thier children.

  5. 65

    @ Justme #64
    Seriously?  OMG your nitpicking THAT?  The “we” would be SANE women.  Do you  really not get that that was implied?  Let me rephrase JUST FOR YOU…
    Justme, Those of us who are sane, love and nurture our children whether we are at home with them all day or work full time or any variation thereof

  6. 66

    @JustMe #60
    “Interestingly, you can find articles that support that women are paid less than men.  Also, having just finished a degree in Human Resources, I have had sociology, social studies, family studies and HR professors who have all said that women are in fact paid less than men for the same work – all other things being equal (education, experience, work hours, etc).  Some of them even claimed that gender discrimination was the 2nd most common form of discrimination in the country (race discrimination being first).  In 4 years of education, I have not had one professor in any class say that gender discrimination didn’t exist.  Of course, every one can still think it is all in our heads.”
    Well, since a bunch of social science instructors say something, that makes it the gospel frickin’ truth.  I’m glad they have you to listen to them since no one in the productive world does.  Get a job in HR and you’ll quickly realize it isn’t “all in our heads.”

  7. 67
    Karmic Equation

    @JustMe #64

    The exceptions don’t disprove the rule. If you’ve been on this blog at least since March of this year (that’s when I joined) — you’ll notice that is one of the common admonishments Evan’s written to posters. He’s probably tired of having to write that, since those posters don’t seem to listen to him, so he doesn’t bother anymore.


    Please don’t take this as snark, because it isn’t. I think you should start your own blog. It’s apparent that you have a lot of supporters here. I would actually read your blog because the majority of the time I think you have good posts. You have two buttons, feminism and biology. And anytime those two buttons are pushed your posts get extremely biased or at least have an undeniable subtext that demonstrates your biases. In your OWN blog, you would be ENTITLED to do that, and I would respect those perspectives in the context of your blog. If you could keep your biases in check and try to not formulate responses in the context of feminism or from your background as a biologist, then you ought to consider staying on this board.

    My ex-mother-in-law (may she R.I.P.) was a nurse and admitted that she made the worst patient, and she also noted that of the other nurses and doctors she worked with. I think your job as a biologist, while YOU think makes you eminently qualified to debate biology – yes at the CELLULAR level, I would agree – but when you add in human interaction, socialization, mental makeup, and other intangibles – then no, your expertise in biology, doesn’t give you any edge in debating biology when it comes to DATING. I’ll believe anything you say about my cellular biology. But you can bet I’m going to debate you nose-to-nose about my “dating/mating” biology.

    Good luck whatever you decide to do.


    I’m sorry to hear about your past relationship that made this such a sensitive issue for you. Unfortunately, culture is hard to change with an army of one. The only thing you can do is what you’ve done, and that’s to find a man who ISN’T like your ex-husband…and to move to a place that isn’t like your country of origin.

    I think that’s actually what’s happening, the productive and beautiful people leave those 2nd world countries, leaving them to become places people no longer want to live in…at least not ones that beautiful productive people want to live in. Those countries are self-selecting themselves out of the next generation of brilliance. Karma, right?


    I agree with you and really like the way you debate. I can follow your logic easily.


    I agree with your posts.


    I love your warmth and compassion, and spirit when called for. LOL. You don’t need to wait until you can fit into your skinny clothes to date. You’re a catch as you are!

  8. 68

    @ Karmic, thank you for your kind words, but my point was not that I was in a bad place, I moved, now I’m in a good place, yay for me. My point was that, by promoting the “women are biologically wired to…. men are biologically wired to…” POV, we enable men to be, as you said, “like my ex-husband” (although I have to say I didn’t mention him in my comment on this thread — he’s a decent guy who’s had his bad moments), and give the corporate culture an opportunity to become like the one in my country of origin. Basically we open the door for potential abuse and discrimination, all under the banner of science, or should I say pseudo-science. Do we really want that?

  9. 69

    I was just thinking if Lia wanted to take others as exactly for their words, then she should do the same herself.   Now if she had said, most or a lot . . .
    Personally, I don’t need that kind of clarification because I could get her intent but she holds people to their exact words, which is fine but she should do the same herself.
    These discussions are no longer discussions or an exchange of ideas – its a picking apart of someone’s comment to show others up with our own important ideas or tear them down as the case may be.  I’m sorry for my part in that.
    I am out of this discussion. 

  10. 70

    @ Karmic Equation #67
    Thanks!!  I am looking forward to getting back into dating.  If I meet any guys who ask me out IRL I will be happy to date.  I don’t want to go on line yet, however.  
    I have been working out every day except Sunday (want to take one day off).  I think I will tout Evan’s blog as a new weight loss tool.  Having hope for the future is VERY motivating!!!

  11. 71

    When I had my first child I did feel guilty for returning to work. It was only financial necessity that forced me to do so. Two years later when my second child came along I felt even more guilty at having to return to work.
    My mom looked after our children during their pre-school years, which I was grateful for, and then relied on others to help out before and after school when I was at work.  Although my husband was very supportive with helping out with changing diapers, housework, shopping etc I felt constantly stressed trying to juggle family life and a demanding work schedule, which often saw me traveling around Europe.
    There should be no shame in admitting to leaving your children to go out to work. That decision is taken to contribute to paying for food on the table and a roof over your head.  This has been especially prevalent during periods of recession, where it is a risky strategy to have only one income coming in and then that income being lost due to redundancy or long-term illness.
    The kids have grown up now and have left the family home, but i still regret not being with them more during their formative years, being personally responsible for their development, rather than leaving them in the hands of carers whose parenting views were not always aligned with my own.

  12. 72

    @Karmic #67

    Thanks Karmic. Actually, I have to thank folks like you, Karl (both!) and a few other regular contributors for providing an example for me do a better job of focusing on the facts and logic, rather than my opinions.

    I’m still workin’ on it!

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