This article about learned incompetence was written 13 years ago. A lot has changed in that time. A lot of what Ivy wrote below is still true today. However, some of the phrasing may not have aged as well. That’s ok. Part of getting older and wiser is learning to do better. As we learn better, we can do better. When we know better, it is our job to teach others to do better. This second part is especially applicable to the children we are trying to raise.
Mental Workload and Emotional Labor
I have been reading a lot about mental load emotional labor lately. What are they? They are the invisible work that keeps things going.
It’s largely silently delegated to and accepted by females. (Not always, there are always exceptions. You in the back can sit down with your not all men, we’re not talking about you specifically. This is a generalization, not a dissertation)
The mental workload is how you remember that the two-year-old loves chicken, but the three-year-old won’t touch chicken but will eat a vegetable if you tell her that she will grow big and strong like Rebecca Rabbit.
Mental workload is knowing that one kid has an orthodontist appointment on Tuesday, another has football practice four afternoons a week and an away game on Friday. It’s knowing the other two teenagers need to be picked up at 3:55pm, the two youngest need to be picked up no earlier than 3:45 so they don’t have a meltdown in the car line. Mental workload is knowing the size of everyone’s socks, shoes, and pants are at any given time so that you can take advantage of a sale you just happened on. It’s remembering birthdays, anniversaries, bills, library due dates. Tired yet?
Mental load is also knowing what to cook when it needs to be started and how to cook it.
Mental load is the reason we (me, I’m talking about me) sometimes get cranky when someone offers to help, but they don’t know what they are doing so it will take far more energy to explain how to do it than to do it myself.
What is emotional labor? Well, that one is a little trickier to define, but think about how if someone were to offer to cook that dinner, but they didn’t know how, so you turn down the offer and then they get upset. Well, then you may have to feel like you need to manage their emotions. That’s emotional labor.
Emotional labor is also navigating all of the complexities that are a family, the many moods and interactions that can occur. Once you bring in dysfunction, the amount of emotional labor that occurs goes off the charts.
How does learned incompetence play into these interactions?
Learned incompetence comes in when we allow that oh, well, I offered to always be the way things are.
Some days you will not have the energy to do what Ivy describes below.
That’s alright. You are not required to be perfect in this life. You are only required to do your best and some days your absolute best may not look like anyone else’s. Who cares? Maybe you do, but you have to make peace with it.
Just take steps to ensure that your children, whatever their gender, learn how to take care of their needs and how to run a household. They need to learn to take on their share of the mental workload that is a partnership. They also need to know that managing their partner’s moods is not their job and that they are only responsible for their own feelings. (If you are recognizing some of these things, consider speaking with a therapist, they can help you work through this, it’s eye-opening)
No, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright frustrating and sometimes I have to walk out of the room and scream into a pillow (if it’s been a rough day). It’s ok.
Some days are easier than others. And? The more we don’t accept the oh, I screwed it up, guess you won’t ask me to do it again attitude, the easier our days will become.
-Heather Oct 2021
As a writer, I’ve learned to stay in the background and listen to people talk, and I get the beat of their words, phrasings, and other tidbits to use in future endeavors. This morning at the grocery store, I was listening in when I heard something that about made me fall over.
Lady (to the cashier): Yep, my husband Elmore is a nuclear physicist, and he cannot work the washing machine. Can you believe that?
Cashier: I sure can, girl. Men are so stupid about some things.
Now, it’s my opinion that if ol’ Elmore can crack the secrets of nuclear physics, he can do something as simple as working a washing machine. Elmore, and many men like him, are victims of learned incompetence- something that their mothers, most likely, taught them and their wives have perpetuated.
It might be too late for poor Elmore and many men like him, but we can break this cycle with our sons. It must be a manly trait because my son tries to feign incompetence all the time. Like I told him the other night- “You can work your (very complex) cell phone, and you can’t figure out how to load a dishwasher?” I then stood over him to make sure he did the job right, as he knew how to do.
It might not be a manly trait, it might just be a typical kid trait, but you can prevent it. First, show your kids how to do a chore. Then supervise while they do it. Make sure the task is age-appropriate. You can’t expect a four-year-old to iron your pants, but you can teach them to hang things on a hanger and fold towels and such.
You have to be relentless and check up on their work. I keep telling my children that these skills they will someday need when they grow up and have their own homes. My mom would never let me touch her washing machine when I was a kid because she was afraid I’d mess it up. So, when I became an adult, I had to call my grandma and ask her how in the world to do laundry because I had no idea. My kids won’t have this problem because, hey, I know the number of a washing machine repairman.
My 14-year-old is nearly capable of running his own home. He knows how to do all household chores, from mopping the floor to ironing. We’re now working on budgeting and grocery shopping. Ladies (and gentlemen), don’t raise an Elmore. Make sure your kids are prepared for the real world, so they don’t have to depend on someone else to wash their underwear.
35 thoughts on “Do Not Let Your Kids Be Victims Of Learned Incompetence”
Wow, kinda like My dad, the engineer, who can’t work My son’s carseat. He hasn’t tried, but he just knows its too hard for him. He can fix a submarine, but buckles are just TOO much!
AMEN! I wish my father could cook a meal for himself instead of asking “What are we gonna eat?”
Two separate thoughts on this. Some feign this as a way of getting out of doing something. As you point out with your son, it can be done when “it must be” done.
But there is another force at play as well. My father could (and would) load the dishwasher. However, unless it was done in the way my mother liked, she would just go in an rearrange things anyway. I have had several run-ins with my wife along the same vein. If I don’t vacuum the floor following her method exactly, it isn’t done, or done right. So, admittedly at times, I say, “fine, you do it” rather than continuing this game.
Now at the risk of sounding defensive, (and yes I know there are exceptions, just as there are exceptions like me that do laundry, cook, and are not lost in such tasks) how difficult is tightening a screw, or putting in a new light bulb or heaven forbid, fixing a squeeky hinge. This often goes back to my first point of “feigned” inabilities, often because the other person is “expected” to do it. And really, I think that is what it comes down to… expectations.
Jay, thank you for bringing that up- I totally meant to address the “your standards” vs. “doing something correctly” in my post. My mom, too, had very exacting standards on the dishwasher, and it was hard to get things perfect like she wanted them. Moms (and Dads) need to understand that doing something correctly does NOT mean it’s doing something EXACTLY the way you’d do it. For example, my son sorts his laundry in a different way I do. Both ways get the clothes clean. His way is just not my way. I do not fuss about that sort of thing.
I’m actually surprised by the number of men my age (mid/late twenties) they are familiar with these things. In most cases it wasn’t learned from their moms but high school ec which was required to graduate. Being a girl I actually wish I had been taught basic car maintenance, plumbing and electrical work growing up so I could manage everyday household maintenance.
I often see articles like this but at the same time I never seem to see women who want to volunteer to do the same things men do. If a man asks a woman to be the sole provider and he wants to stay at home and be with the kids, it is weak. If a man suggests a woman learn her way with tools and fix things around the house and take the trash out, again, it’s the same thing. It seems that often with the notion of equality men are shouldering more burden or responsibility whereas women are only expecting that they should make light overtures towards shouldering more responsibilities but a good man should not let her do this. There’s a lot of double standards going on here. I’m not saying equality is wrong, I’m saying that I wish equality in practice went both ways.
This is stupid.
you should learn how to fix your own damn dishwasher
I couldn’t agree more with this post.
Growing up it was my responsibility to do the majority of the cleaning and quite a bit of the cooking too. My younger brother however was never even made to clean his room and wasn’t ALLOWED to use the toaster or microwave without supervision until he was around 16-17 and was NEVER allowed to use the stove. And just so you know, my brother had no developmental problems, so I couldn’t for the life of me tell you WHY my parents were like this. Maybe because he was a boy. I tell you this to say that when he finally moved out on his own, he was a lost soul and very incompetent-in domestic matters as well as spilling over into the rest of his life because he was never given any responsibility.
I knew this was not what I wanted for my own boys. I began at a very early age teaching them how to do everything that needs to be done around the house. I wanted them to be independent, and I also wanted to teach them that it’s not only “woman’s” work to cook and clean. At 14 and almost 13, both of my boys can cook, do laundry, wash dishes, vacuum, clean toilets….the list goes on. I have not taken one ounce of their childhood away in the process.
Also, I totally agree with JayMonster. I learned very early on in my marriage that if I wanted my husband to help out, then I couldn’t go behind him and re-do everything he did. Who wants to help out when everything they do is “wrong” anyway? This carried over to teaching my boys as well. I showed them how to do things, told them what I expected and then let them do it on their own. I rarely ever go behind them to re-do anything, and when it is necessary it is only because it is a matter of it being unhealthy if I don’t. This system definitely works and I am sure that once they are grown and have wives and a family, their wives will thank me.
Great post, thanks for sharing!
Gee, I sure hope nothing happens to your wife, considering what a worthless, dependent sack of crap you seem to be. Must be nice to have never had to grow up – I’m 20 years old, and manage college, a job, and a household. By myself. I enjoy how there’s no longer any shame for men in being incompetent.
Amen to a great blogpost! I am married to a man whose parents taught him to do everything with no silly ideas about “women’s work” or “men’s work”. My dh can mow the lawn, fix simple auto problems, cook a gourmet meal, mend his shirt, iron a jacket, and arrange a bouquet for the table. He is a fabulous husband.
My friend’s husband won’t even fix his own breakfast if she’s busy. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be married to such a helpless narrow-minded mate.
There are many angles to look at..
When I was four years old, I had to climb up onto the washing machine, to reach the handles, to turn it on. Out of necessity and desire, I learned to cook very young, too. I felt a personal responsibility to pass on my domestic knowledge to my children..
I have brothers, who do not know how to work the washing machine. My step-mother had to leave an ICU, in a hospital, because she said, “No one had clean clothes.” I didn’t understand. When I was visiting, once, my brothers t-shirts were not just washed, but hung from the dryer, for him. Incidentally, my brother’s also do not have to know where the trash can is, in their own kitchen, either. They don’t clear their dishes from the table.
I don’t find that these are services to them, in any respect.
It doesn’t matter if my feelings, of how I care for my family, are similar to my step-mothers, or not. I don’t believe equality is ever 50/50. It should be 100/100 ability. That number is different every day.
I have known many young couples who found themselves, the day after the wedding.. in these wonderful apartments. Neither could cook, budget, shop, or clean. IT was a nightmare for them, to find themselves on their own.. and so displaced.
They were accustomed to clean living spaces. They were incapable of the simple tasks of bringing home toilet paper, for guests, or not leaving their dirty underwear on the bathroom floor.
It was not a joy to visit them, in any respect.
We can’t expect that our children may be fortunate to have a spouse that will be able and want to do it all for our little darlings, regardless of their sex. I like to think that my biggest responsibility, as a parent, is to raise my children to be responsible adults that can mesh into adulthood with all the tools and skills that they may need, for whatever happens to come their way… or just because they must eat to survive.
My insurance agent once told me that his life changed, drastically, when his wife could stay home, and pick up his dry cleaning, for him. Good for them. But that wouldn’t help him, much, if she didn’t know how to do anything at home, or had never learned to drive a car.
Mommy isn’t going to be picking up your clothes, cooking your meals, making sure you have milk, and wiping your bottom, when you are 30. .and your name is not Beaver, Opie, or Nellie Olson.
We all do things that we don’t like to do, every day!
If you need help with dishwasher repair, we cover that, too:
My little boy is due to arrive within a few weeks. You betcha I’ll be teaching him everything I know — and his daddy will teach him all he knows. Our goal is to raise a competent adult.
Even if he doesn’t use his housekeeping skills on a regular basis, it’s important that he at least knows how to do it. He might be a bachelor for awhile.
Or his wife might oh, I don’t know, HAVE A BABY and need help with cooking and cleaning and shopping for the weeks/months after.
How timely, being as I killed the House Fairy yesterday. 😉 I have taught my children to do it all. Why should certain things be gender specific. They may live for years alone without a helpmate to do those things for them. Now do they like to do it? No, that is why from time to time, Momma has to throw a fit. Attitudes have to be readjusted. House Fairies have to die.
But ladies don’t let your girl’s grow up to be helpless either. Teach them to change a tire, or the oil, or fix a toilet, or at least teach them to get high enough paying jobs that they can pay someone else. Don’t make them dependent on husbands to care for them either.
If both parties are self sufficient, then the two together will run smoothly. Now if Dad can’t run the drier, it’s more than likely that Mom deep down didn’t want him too. She’d rather he ran the mower or the weed eater and leave her be. She taught him her place in their marriage and her place was to be the martyr about it. That lady in the grocery store was playing her part. I am sure her husband would do just fine if she let him, but that wouldn’t allow her a part to play.
First: great post, Ivy. One of the sadder days of my life was when I had to teach my dad how to wash his own underwear after my mom died. He was so lost, and grieving. I grew up a lot that day.
My mom trained us to do everything when we were kids. I was folding laundry, *her* way, and dusting and vacuuming and cleaning windows and bathrooms, etc. as long as I can remember. And my daughter loves to help, too. So far it’s only putting diapers in the bin and stuff in the trash, but she’s only 18 months old. She’ll get there.
And to “Uncle B is Crazy”–you chickenshit. You can’t even put your name on this because you know if your wife saw it, things would change, and quickly. Most likely, you’re some 15 year old kid writing whatever you can to tick off the women on this site. LAME.
Uncle B, I like you. 😀 You can come peel potatoes at my house anytime.
Amen! Preach it, Sistah!
I know this is crazy, but I agree with everything everyone has said, even Uncle B. Before I was married I was quite handy with the toolset. For some reason I developed amnesia in this area when I got married. In the same vein, I begged my dad to teach me how to change my own oil. He did so very halfheartedly, then finished the lesson off by telling me to just go to Jiffy Lube. Then he went back to rebuilding an engine with my brother.
I also think the stay-at-home parent double standard is shameful. My husband has offered to be a SAHD and I just might take him up on it when this last baby is weaned. He is more patient than I am, and actually much better at many of the household arts.
I agree, it is great for kids to learn how to do things. I knew a lot of kids in college who had trouble doing their own laundry. Also, at the dorm I stayed in, we had to clean our own bathrooms, many of my male friends had NO idea how to do it, and their bathrooms were GROSS by the end of the semester. It is great to teach kids to do things when they are young so that they don’t grow up like this.
Also, there are a few older men who I go to church with who can’t cook to save their lives. The one man, when his wife went into the hospital for a few days, either ate at his daughter’s house or went out because he couldn’t do anything. Another tried to make eggs and almost blew up the kitchen! Now granted these were men that went from living in their mother’s houses to with their wives, but STILL, at least learn how to make pasta.
Also, my mother is a very big advocate of doing things HER way. We have gotten into so many fights because I do things, and they are done fine, but not HER way. I’m 20 and she still does my laundry because when I do it, she ends up RE-doing it because she doesn’t like the way I did it (even though it is MY laundry). She’s gotten better as my sister and I have gotten older, but it is still a little ridiculous sometimes.
Wow as a mom of four sons I think this is so important! Thanks for the great post!
Great thoughts Memarie Lane. I have been contemplating responding all day. I think you hit the nail on the head, but in a much more simple way than I would have been able to (this is a good thing). I think most of us desire an egalitarian relationship really…because if we are nixing old cultural scripts for men and women, isn’t that what we are ultimately working toward? Just as much as I want my son to understand that his job as a member of the household doesn’t end when he steps into that very household, I also hope that my daughters understand that if they desire to work full-time when having children, they can very well do that and their children will not be emotionally mal-adjusted (like some publications would led them to believe). I guess I think that we will best be able to help our children be free from old gender constructions through example, yet I am so far from being good at this. I too no longer do things that I used to do when I lived alone back in my post college pre-marriage days. I refuse to say that I am ascribing to traditional gender roles though, because I am incredibly prideful like that…I mean really, my husband knows I hate shoveling the driveway, just as I know he hates cleaning the shower. Anyway, thanks for that response Memarie. 🙂
i took 4 years of home ec courses in high school as well as being reared by tough Navy parents…joined the Navy myself and married a Marine who irons better than me….it is time for young people in this nation to be self-reliant, responsible, frugal, and grow up and it is a parents responsibilty to see to it that their children do for themselves and do for others.
uncle b is full of nasty! seems to me he blames everyone for his own ignorance.
I agree with Caryn (and our delightful host, of course). The only way things will change is if WE change them. If we have children or grandchildren or neighbor’s kids or church kids in our lives, it’s up to us to teach responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and the skills to live a self-reliant life.
I did fine with my first 3 kids (boy and 2 girls), now grown up. But my youngest son, age 19, got to take a pass on a lot of training because he was the “baby” and the big kids did most of the work. He did some, but stills struggles with wishing others would cook and clean for him (he’s in shared house, going to college.) He CAN do it, he just doesn’t want to unless he has to. Don’t let this happen with YOUR sons — or daughters~!
oh yeah! and i plan on letting my son’s future mate know that he is so good at helping around the house, doing his laundry, filling the dishwasher correctly, doing the other chores as assigned — so she knows and he can’t try to pull the wool over her eyes — hehe
Wow, this topic went places I wouldn’t have anticipated.
When I had another entity (son, roommate, significant other) living in the house who was capable of doing chores, chores were divvied up and each person had a set they were responsible for. Each person also was trained to do other chores in case the person of primary responsibility was sick or away. Yeah, I ran a pretty tight ship, but most of that time I was working 12+ hour days and was a single parent, so a tight ship was the only one that wouldn’t sink.
By the time my son was in high school, he knew how to do laundry, clean house, and feed himself. Not that he liked it…at all. In fact, it was a constant battle. “Mom, none of my friends have to do all this stuff. It’s not fair.” Imagine the whine and the superior attitude. He never got over it, and at age 28 he’s still mad at me! But he’s competent.
OTOH, I did the yard work, home repairs, and car maintenance because the “men’s work” still had to get done even when there was no man around. Interestingly, my son showed absolutely no interest in learning any of the traditionally male skills, either. Those were beneath him, too. I guess that proves he wasn’t raised sexist. ;o)
Considering that my mother in law, single parent when it was not common, was so determined her boys would go to college that she did everything in order that they would have more study time, my husband doesn’t do too bad around the house. He did learn some self-care skills in college finally. Lucky for him, he was intellectually capable of, and interested in, the PhD she so desired. He enjoyed his schoolwork enough, even as a boy, that it never occured to him that he was required to study a larger number of hours than most kids.
After our marriage, went through a phase of my having to control my control freak tendencies. that vacuuming is good enough, even if he doesn’t deal with the details was a hard lesson for me to learn. At this point, our method of chore divisions is by who is bothered sooner (he is regarding the litterbox) or who is more particular (I am regarding laundry).
There is a bit of absent-minded professor in his ‘incompetence’ though. For example: Our kitchen has exactly 3 drawers 7 cabinets. From the dining room, I can hear him opening each verrrry quietly, hoping he’ll find the silverware before I ask him what on earth he’s looking for! After we married, I just figured it was because he’d moved into my place so hadn’t gotten used to things. Six houses and 18 years later I realize that, somewhat like the nucleur physicist in the first comment, the man is a genius capable of magnificent feats of mathematics and statistics; but he can’t spare a few braincells for the details of silverware and dish storage. I choose to find this endearing and bear in mind there must be something I do that he must choose to find endearing as well.
@nil zed – My husband is the same way exactly…but without the Ph.D. It’s not an intelligence thing, it’s an attention thing, IMO. He can barely remember where the coffee cups are stored, and he uses those daily. But somehow, in his towering toolbox – which to me is utter chaos – he can quickly find a tool the size of a fingernail in a drawer full of oddments.
My husband has a doctorate (and 2 masters degrees) and STILL won’t set the DVR recorder ….. “it’s too complicated”he says! LOL For all of us, we do what we need to and what we value. When my husband was away for nearly 2 years, getting his second masters degree, I was home working, caring for 3 teenagers and our home. I managed to add lawnmowing and home repair into my repetoire. And he added cooking and cleaning into his ………….. so we CAN, if we need to!
I just wanted to say that I think many people are very gender-biased in how they raise their kids. I was raised (most of my life) by a single mom. I taught myself how to cook and clean (as my mom rarely had time for things like this) and took lots of tips from my grandmother…and later from my mother-in-law. I learned household repairs from my mom (she loved stuff like that) and I am actually better with power tools than my husband…most of the time (his parents rarely let him do anything growing up). Now I am learning car repairs from my father-in-law and I’m loving it!
I hope one day to be able to stay home with my kids and teach them all I know (regardless of gender). My husband would be more than happy staying home if we needed him to, but he is also more than happy to work hard so I can.
I just wanted to recommend that people watch the DVD series called “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage”. It goes into the differences between men and women, how their brains work and how they “score” things is very different and was so helpful to my husband and I.
My husband and I are constantly reflecting on how the “women’s rights” movement did little to liberate women as now most feel responsible for twice the duties they did before. We need to focus on fixing this problem by expecting more from our boys. I expect my husband to keep up his share of household “women’s” chores and he is getting better at it. I refuse to be the wifey who works all day and then comes home and has to work full time there as well. I enjoy both things, but my husband has hands and can pitch in as well. Plus, he now realizes that when he helps me he gets a much happier wife b/c I can actually relax and spend time with him.
Great post, just as boys should be taught all household chores, girls should be taught to fix little things around the house.
This was a great article. I could have done without Uncle B’s praise of Communism, though. No one who has ever lived under Communism would agree with him, except perhaps the elitist crowd for whom the rules-for-the-populace did not apply.
There is nothing wrong with a husband taking care of his wife; that is what he is supposed to do. It is a very important way for him to show her he loves her. And a wife is supposed to help and please her husband. It is love for them to do those things, and selfishness for them to proclaim that they are not bound to do them.
Of course, all children should be prepared to be adults who can care for both themselves and others. Everyone needs to know basic personal care, clothing care, home care, food preparation skills, etc. They need to know how to balance a checkbook and budget their money. They need to be able to not only care for themselves when they are the only ones to do it, but also to step up and do someone else’s “assignment” when necessary.
It is a fact of life that some people are better at some things than others. I don’t have a good sense of direction, and even when I think I am doing okay I sometimes get turned around and don’t even realize it. It’s not a matter of intelligence, effort, or concentration. My brain is just not wired for directionality. My husband, on the other hand, can visit a new place, not go back for several years, and remember how to get where he is going!
I am excellent with buttons and gadgets. It is a piece of cake for me to switch back and forth between the two VCR/DVD players, including changing the channel on the tv to accommodate them. It does have many steps, but it is easy for me. My engineer husband has trouble with it, though. Again, it is not a matter of intelligence, effort, or concentration. He just doesn’t grasp it the same way he does engineering drawings, etc.
I have my own tool box, and can take care of very minor things, like tightening the bolts in the kitchen chairs, nailing back the trim that gets loose, etc. But I prefer to have my husband do most of the home maintenance things, as it takes me much longer and I am not nearly as good at it as he is. He can sew on buttons, but he prefers to have me to do it, as I am much more experienced and can do it more quickly than he can, and probably better as well.
Both our children are learning how to cook, clean, care for animals, care for their clothes, care for the house, etc. Yes, I want them to be able to do whatever needs doing. But more than that, I want my son to grow into a fine, upstanding, Godly man who is capable of providing for and leading his family. And I want my daughter to grow up into a Godly, nurturing woman who is able to teach and guide her children and make a wonderful home for her husband and family.
Men and women are different. God has given them different roles. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be capable of stepping up and meeting a need. This afternoon, my son loaded and ran the dishwasher. My husband and son unloaded the dishwasher tonight, and my husband reloaded it. Yesterday, I loaded it and ran it. My daughter also helps unload; she puts away the things that she can reach. Everyone in the family lives here; everyone is part of keeping things going smoothly.
I will say that I am the one who usually does the laundry. Not that everyone else isn’t willing. I just prefer to do it myself. My husband will put clothes in or take them out of the dryer if I ask him to. So will my son. My daughter can’t reach to do it.
Part of the reason I usually do the laundry is that my washer is getting up in years, and it has to be babied. But the main reason is that I LOVE doing laundry; it is my favorite household task. I enjoy sorting it, because it lets me reflect on how God has blessed us with an abundance of clothing. I enjoy seeing the water go into the washer, because I know it is going to saturate the clothes and get them clean. I enjoy putting in the soap nuts, because I love using something that God made instead of a harsh detergent or soap with toxic ingredients and stinky perfumes. I enjoy putting the clothes in the dryer, because I know they are all clean, and they are going to come out soft and fluffy. I enjoy hanging up damp clothes and snapping them, because I know they will dry without wrinkles. I enjoy bringing the clothes out of the dryer because I love feeling how soft and warm they are, and smelling how fresh and clean they, with no artificial fragrance. And I love sorting them out of the basket and putting them in stacks for my family, because I am blessing my family, serving them, and connecting with them.
Sometimes I fold all the clothes. Other times I call everyone and they come and get them and fold them themselves. I enjoy having all of us fold together. We talk and laugh and visit while we work. I want my daughter to know the same joy when she does laundry. And I’d like my son to experience it too. I want them both to know how to find joy in the everyday things of life, including those countless “jobs” that fill our days. So, now that I am thinking about it, I suppose I will go ahead and let them start doing a little bit of laundry, too. That way they can share in the joy.
My husband is the one who usually takes care of the outdoor things. He works very hard, and is always busy doing something that needs to be done. But he’s always ready to pitch in with “inside” stuff too. He cooks, does dishes, reads bedtime stories, cleans the kitchen (not the same way that I do it, but he does it as a loving service, which is much more important than specifics any day of the week), vacuums, files, etc.
For years, when we both worked outside the home (before our children were born), he cooked most meals. My health was not great at the time, and I was too fatigued to do much once I got home from work. He has always been willing to show his love by doing not only the things that he is responsible for, but by doing my “tasks” when I wasn’t up to it.
I think this is too long; I’m sorry. I probably could have just said that a person can learn to do all the things necessary to daily life while still maintaining and fulfilling their God-given roles as men and women, husbands and wives.
Thank you so much for your response. It’s important to share such things and I thank you for saying it so well.
It has helped me so much to learn along that way that the things I do for my family — my work, my house work, spending time with my husband and my kids, et. al — can be a way of blessing my family. That perspective helps motivate me and keep my calm!
But now the real problem isn't just the domestic chores you noted in the article. But how many young people can't drive stick, can't change a flat, a light-bulb, jump-start a car, mow the lawn, clean the gutters, etc. I have no doubt that young women are learning many of these skills and becoming well-balanced adults. In fact their personalities are much like a mans (right down to attitudes about sex). But I have noticed that moms are raising their men to be great house wives — but neglecting the other essential skills. So why isn't it happening? These are the guys I see every day in the work world or in line at S.bucks – they have been taught by their mom role models that they are worthless in society – except fighting wars and donating genetic material. Is this really what you wanted ladies? Single moms.
Actually I want competent adults.
Have you ever read TheArtofManliness.com. Great site written by Brett McKay. I think he does a great idea illustrating an excellent example of how men should act and what they should know.
As far as life skills, I'm teaching them as fast as I can, regardless of gender.