Dads who do housework have more ambitious daughters

Dads who do housework have more ambitious daughters

Parents’ actions influence children more than words on gender equality, UBC study says

By Emily Chung, CBC News Posted: May 28, 2014 11:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 28, 2014 1:38 PM ET

When fathers do a greater share of the housework, their daughters aspire to a greater range of careers, rather than just stereotypical female ones such as teaching or nursing, a study suggests.When fathers do a greater share of the housework, their daughters aspire to a greater range of careers, rather than just stereotypical female ones such as teaching or nursing, a study suggests. (iStock)

Maybe you’ve told your daughter she can grow up to be an engineer or CEO if she wants to, but she may not really believe it if her dad doesn’t cook or clean, a new study suggests.

A group of psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that when a father performs a greater share of traditionally female household chores such as cooking, cleaning and childcare, his school-aged daughter is less likely to say she wants to pursue a stereotypical female career such as nursing, teaching or staying at home with the kids, and more likely to aspire to more gender-neutral (and often higher-paying) careers, such as becoming a doctor or lawyer.

A mother’s stated views on gender equality were linked to her children’s views. However, a father’s share of housework made a difference even if both he and the girl’s mother explicitly endorse gender equality, reported the study that will be published in the journal Psychological Science this week.

Boys tended to choose gender-stereotyped careers regardless of their father’s role at home.

Alyssa Croft‘You may not realize how much kids are watching and observing and taking in beyond just what we’re telling them,’ says Alyssa Croft, lead author of the study. (Martin Dee/UBC)

“What this is suggesting is that when girls, specifically, are seeing their parents enacting a traditional division of labour at home, it may be limiting their own ambition,” said Alyssa Croft, a PhD candidate who was the lead author of the study, in an interview with CBC News.

“It may just be restricting what they see themselves as capable of doing.… You may not realize how much kids are watching and observing and taking in beyond just what we’re telling them.”

Croft acknowledged that researchers don’t know how the career aspirations of the children will be linked to what they end up doing when they grow up. However, she said they are a good indication of how children see themselves in the context of gender roles.

Actions speak louder than words

She said the effects seen in the study of 326 children aged seven to 13 and their parents were “definitely very significant, meaningful effects.”

She advised parents to be aware of how they’re dividing their labour at home, if they say they believe in gender equality and really do believe in it.

Croft said she undertook the study because most previous studies about children’s gender stereotypes look mainly at the role of their parents’ jobs. She thought what parents do around the house might be more important, since children were more likely to see that.

To find out, she ran a series of tests on children recruited at Science World in Vancouver, along with at least one of their parents. For example, some part of the tests included descriptions of two people — one with more gender stereotypical characteristics and one with less — and asked the participant which one he or she was more like.

In a video interview produced by UBC, Croft said she thinks the findings of the study are important because “despite our best efforts to try and create gender egalitarian workplaces, women are still underrepresented in leadership and management positions.” She added that the study suggests equality at home may inspire girls to pursue careers that they have traditionally been excluded from.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2010 General Social Survey on Time Use, Canadian women at the time of survey spent, on average, four hours and 38 minutes on unpaid work per day — one hour and 13 minutes more than men. The unpaid work included household work, child care, and civic and voluntary activities. The difference was particularly big for child care, where women spent more than twice as much time as men, regardless of the child’s age. For example, women spent an average of six hours and 33 minutes a day on children under the age of four, while men spent just three hours and seven minutes.

How Parents Are Ruining Youth Sports

The Boston Globe

Adults should remember what athletics are really about.

By Jay Atkinson

MAY 04, 2014

ALEKS SENNWALD

Not long ago, I was invited to speak at the annual banquet for an “elite” youth hockey organization. Before dinner, the organization’s president mentioned how he and his neighbor, another hockey dad, had seen the need for a top-tier program in their area, and how much planning and money it had required to create one. He rhapsodized about the championships his teams had won in their first two years of operation. He also said his 6-year-old son and his neighbor’s boy were hockey-crazed best friends — or at least they used to be. His neighbor’s son was not selected for the mite team that first year, and the two men and their boys had not spoken to each other since.

In brief, that’s exactly what’s wrong with youth sports. Too much money, too much parent involvement, and too many brokenhearted 6-year-olds. (Not to mention too many well-meaning adults who have no clue about all of the above.)

Three out of four American families with school-aged children have at least one playing an organized sport — a total of about 45 million kids. By age 15, as many as 80 percent of these youngsters have quit, according to the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. One reason is the gap between the child’s desire to have fun and the misguided notion among some adults that their kids’ games are a miniature version of grown-up competitions, where the goal is to win. In 20 years of coaching youth and high school sports, I can say unequivocally that adult expectations are the number one problem. As we approach summer, when the living is supposed to be easy, too many families are searching the Internet for a private batting instructor, a summer hockey program, an expensive strength camp, and that elusive AAU coach who can get their 11-year-old to improve her jump shot. This is a misguided attempt to accelerate a process that may not even be occurring, since most young athletes will never reach the elite level.

When I was growing up in Methuen, we organized our own football, hockey, and baseball teams. Any kid who had a football helmet, a pair of Bobby Orr Rally skates, or a first baseman’s mitt could play. We contacted teams from other neighborhoods and played entire seasons without our parents having anything to do with it. My friends and I even staged our own tennis tournaments at the public courts. (The baseball players swore it helped with their timing at the plate.)

Except for renting the ice at the local rink, and a set of hockey jerseys we pitched in to buy, it was free. We played for the love of it. Indeed, many of us went on to play high school and college varsity sports.

Maybe you’re thinking: So this guy went to grammar school with Huck Finn, good for him. But how’s little Eliza going to get a scholarship if she’s not throwing heat? But the fact is, approximately 1 percent of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship. And those scholarships, on average, are worth much less than the family’s investment in private lessons, sports camps, and other training.

Some kids are sick of playing, and some are sick of playing in pain. A 2013 study of 1,200 young athletes showed those who concentrated on a single sport were 70 percent to 93 percent more likely to be injured than those who played multiple sports.

At that hockey banquet, I said adults must set their egos aside and remember to let the kids have fun. And to do that, we need to return youth sports to the neighborhood, where they belong.

This summer, encourage your children to go fishing, play mini golf, and invite their pals to shoot hoops in the driveway. Have them visit the library, and loaf around in the backyard chewing on blades of grass. And keep in mind that the interior experience of playing a sport, the beauty and the joy of it, is sovereign territory and belongs to the kids themselves.

BY THE NUMBERS

1 in 6,000

Estimated number of high-school football players who will make it to the NFL

2.5 in 10,000

High-school basketball players who will make it to the NBA.

Jay Atkinson runs the Methuen Fun Hockey League “Skate & Read” program and is the author, most recently, ofMemoirs of a Rugby-Playing Man. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

Read, Kids, Read

The New York Times

As an uncle I’m inconsistent about too many things.

Birthdays, for example. My nephew Mark had one on Sunday, and I didn’t remember — and send a text — until 10 p.m., by which point he was asleep.

School productions, too. I saw my niece Bella in “Seussical: The Musical” but missed “The Wiz.” She played Toto, a feat of trans-species transmogrification that not even Meryl, with all of her accents, has pulled off.

But about books, I’m steady. Relentless. I’m incessantly asking my nephews and nieces what they’re reading and why they’re not reading more. I’m reliably hurling novels at them, and also at friends’ kids. I may well be responsible for 10 percent of all sales of “The Fault in Our Stars,” a teenage love story to be released as a movie next month. Never have I spent money with fewer regrets, because I believe in reading — not just in its power to transport but in its power to transform.

So I was crestfallen on Monday, when a new report by Common Sense Media came out. It showed that 30 years ago, only 8 percent of 13-year-olds and 9 percent of 17-year-olds said that they “hardly ever” or never read for pleasure. Today, 22 percent of 13-year-olds and 27 percent of 17-year-olds say that. Fewer than 20 percent of 17-year-olds now read for pleasure “almost every day.” Back in 1984, 31 percent did. What a marked and depressing change.

I know, I know: This sounds like a fogy’s crotchety lament. Or, worse, like self-interest. Professional writers arguing for vigorous reading are dinosaurs begging for a last breath. We’re panhandlers with a better vocabulary.

But I’m coming at this differently, as someone persuaded that reading does things — to the brain, heart and spirit — that movies, television, video games and the rest of it cannot.

There’s research on this, and it’s cited in a recent article in The Guardian by Dan Hurley, who wrote that after “three years interviewing psychologists and neuroscientists around the world,” he’d concluded that “reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic.”

In terms of smarts and success, is reading causative or merely correlated? Which comes first, “The Hardy Boys” or the hardy mind? That’s difficult to unravel, but several studies have suggested that people who read fiction, reveling in its analysis of character and motivation, are more adept at reading people, too: at sizing up the social whirl around them. They’re more empathetic. God knows we need that.

Late last year, neuroscientists at Emory University reported enhanced neural activity in people who’d been given a regular course of daily reading, which seemed to jog the brain: to raise its game, if you will.

Some experts have doubts about that experiment’s methodology, but I’m struck by how its findings track something that my friends and I often discuss. If we spend our last hours or minutes of the night reading rather than watching television, we wake the next morning with thoughts less jumbled, moods less jangled. Reading has bequeathed what meditation promises. It has smoothed and focused us.

Maybe that’s about the quiet of reading, the pace of it. At Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, whose students significantly outperform most peers statewide, the youngest kids all learn and play chess, in part because it hones “the ability to focus and concentrate,” said Sean O’Hanlon, who supervises the program. Doesn’t reading do the same?

Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, framed it as a potentially crucial corrective to the rapid metabolism and sensory overload of digital technology. He told me that it can demonstrate to kids that there’s payoff in “doing something taxing, in delayed gratification.” A new book of his, “Raising Kids Who Read,” will be published later this year.

Before talking with him, I arranged a conference call with David Levithanand Amanda Maciel. Both have written fiction in the young adult genre, whose current robustness is cause to rejoice, and they rightly noted that the intensity of the connection that a person feels to a favorite novel, with which he or she spends eight or 10 or 20 hours, is unlike any response to a movie.

That observation brought to mind a moment in “The Fault in Our Stars” when one of the protagonists says that sometimes, “You read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

Books are personal, passionate. They stir emotions and spark thoughts in a manner all their own, and I’m convinced that the shattered world has less hope for repair if reading becomes an ever smaller part of it.