Addendum to “Monkey See, Monkey Do” (Previous) Post

In my last blog post, I asked moms of boys to teach their sons some traditional female labor tasks. I should have also asked dads of girls, like my own husband, to work on teaching their daughters some traditional male labor tasks. If I had the same skills as the The Hub, he’d have no excuses for delegating single parenting to me while he does his own pet projects.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that all of this is easier said than done. The Hub has not yet taught the girls any of his skills–partly because taking on young apprentices is hard. It requires additional labor (teaching) while trying to complete a task perfectly. Anyone who has tried teaching their children anything knows this is no small feat. Not to mention that up until the ages they are, I highly doubt The Hub would have wanted the girls helping with any dangerous tools!

I would love to see my girls learn how to do many of the things he does. This would require them to also take some interest, in my opinion. I don’t see The Hub willingly taking on the task of teaching them without their cooperation. And is their lack of interest just another biproduct of our gender labor divided household? Let’s face it: breaking the “stickiness” of traditional gender divided labor is hard work and definitely has a long way to go!

Econ-Mom: So, you bring up another really good point here – what are our kids naturally interested in? I have thought about this a LOT actually, because there is so much discussion nowadays about not boxing our children into gendered roles. (And with autism in particular, you hear a lot about how your kid doesn’t play “the right way” so I had to think about how hard I wanted to nudge my child to become interested in different things.)

First of all, I 100% agree that it is important to expose all children to various types of activities/toys/etc. and to be supportive of any healthy interest that they have. For example, I saw a dad on Twitter recently lamenting that his son was doing robotics instead of football like a “real man” or something, and I was like “WTF?!?!? How do people like this still exist?”

However, despite one’s best efforts to expose children to a wide variety of activities, I think an important thing to remember is that there are feedback loops based on natural interest. For example, Law-Mom, if my boys lived in your house, both of them (but especially Peanut) would be begging your husband to let them help with these projects. They just LOVE seeing how things work, using tools, etc. My husband occasionally does some of this stuff, too, and he enjoys letting the boys help–and frankly I don’t know if he would treat a girl differently if we had one. But the main reason it’s enjoyable is because the boys love it. If the boys were kind of “meh” about it, I’m quite sure my husband would be happy to just do the projects himself, without interruption, and that would become the default.

As another example, Peanut loves art. So I’ve done my best to go on Pinterest and find simple crafts that we can do together. But I actually don’t love art that much, so I encourage it to a certain extent, but I sometimes kind of sigh when Peanut asks to do art. (I don’t sit there and say “ugh, I hate art,” but kids can read body language, etc.) Anyway, I am not jumping out of bed in the morning saying, “Hey Peanut, do you want to do another art project today?” But imagine if I were someone who was super into arts and crafts! Peanut and I could just go crazy with this stuff, and then you would get a positive feedback loop.

All that being said, there are some things that all children just need to learn. All (most) parents push pretty hard to make sure their kids learn to read, despite widely varying levels of interest and speed of learning. The same should go for all skills needed to run a household!

Law-Mom: Econ-Mom, you’re so right about all this. And, don’t you love our own private positive feedback loop we have going on right here? 🙂

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