Every child of a father knows how important that father is, whether he is or was part of your life—or not. Whether you got along or not. Whether you think you loved each other or not. Whether you could accept each other or not. My experience tells me that a father has an almost mystical effect on a daughter’s life. The formidable effect that a father must have on a son is almost too much to imagine.
Everyone knows, especially the wounded or the gifted that good parents are crucial to proper human development. In immense and in subtle ways, parents influence who we become, either by setting a good example or a bad one.
A new study to be published in Psychological Science about simply daily chores emphasizes the subtle messages that children get from parents’ behavior.
According to this research, daughters of fathers who help with household chores are more likely aspire to less traditional—and potentially higher paying—careers than daughters with fathers who do not help out. There’s some ammunition for the moms out there.
Children are little sponges, soaking up the nuance of everything they see and much of what has become invisible to adults. How nice to have the science to back up the fact that how parents share mundane, but necessary household duties such as dishes, laundry, and getting the trash out contributes to shaping the gender attitudes and aspirations of their little ones, especially daughters.
Make no mistake, a mother’s beliefs about gender and work equality were shown in the research to be key factors in predicting their children’s attitudes toward gender, but the strongest predictor of a daughter’s own professional ambitions was their father’s approach to household chores.
What? Whether a father does chores affects how a daughter looks at her future professional life?
Yes. Lead author Alyssa Croft from the University of British Columbia’s Department of Psychology explains, “How fathers treat their domestic duties appears to play a unique gatekeeper role… [and] girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents.”
An interesting point is that even if the father said he believed in gender equality, but did not help out around the house, the daughter was more likely to see herself in a job traditionally held by women, such as a nurse, teacher, librarian, or stay-at-home mom.
“Despite our best efforts to create workplace equality, women remain severely under-represented in leadership and management positions,” says Croft. “This study is important because it suggests that achieving gender equality at home may be one way to inspire young women to set their sights on careers from which they have traditionally been excluded.”
Dads need to pay attention to the the time-honored advice from their own mothers: actions speak louder than words.
This news is win-win all around: A husband doing chores is very attractive to women, especially wives and working mothers who can use the extra hand. Now science proves that a husband doing chores can inspire his children, especially his daughters to extraordinary, high paying professional careers.
Here’s something for the Dads to think about: maybe your daughter will thank you for the inspirational career by taking care of you in your dotage with some of the high income she earns.
Happy Father’s Day.