On 16 out of 25 child-care tasks — like changing diapers, taking a child to the doctor or getting up in the middle of a night to attend to a child — women reported statistically significant higher levels of enjoyment than men. The only parenting issue that gave women less pleasure than it gave men was having to manage who does what for the child. Over all, women’s scores were 10 percent higher than men’s.
Is it really true that women end up shouldering more of the parenting burden simply because they like it more — or at least dislike it less? Steven Rhoads, a University of Virginia political-science professor and the study’s lead author, surmised that some women may have inflated their enjoyment scores because of feelings of guilt or cultural pressure. But he also said some research suggests that a woman’s parenting skills are deeply rooted in biology. Women with high levels of testosterone, for instance, often show less interest in babies, while a father’s testosterone levels are known to drop when a new baby arrives, ostensibly a biological mechanism to encourage bonding with the infant.
Here is what I commented:
I self-scored a 74, but of course I’d like to see what my wife scores for herself, as she probably does more childcare than I do. I rated all the tasks even though some of them we haven’t performed in years, as both kids are now teenagers. Also, I rated the tasks as much as for how often I did them as much as whether I liked them. Who really enjoys changing diapers? Nonetheless, I’ve changed thousands, and not only for my own children, but also for my younger siblings and when I did occasionally nursery duty at church.
As much as biology, I’d have to say it’s upbringing and environment that influences who does what in terms of household chores and child-rearing. My wife and I are both first-borns, and we did tons of both BEFORE we married each other. My mom taught me how to clean, and as she passed away when I was 12, I had to learn how to do laundry and cook at a young age, too.
I’m the fastidious one in the family, and so I do the vast majority of housecleaning; our teenagers do their own laundry most of the time. My wife does most of the cooking, and the kids and I do the dishes. My son helps me the most with the cleaning, and my daughter helps in other ways.
Here’s what I recommend: have both spouses take the quiz at the New York Times site, and then have a discussion about the results, preferably away from your kids, and perhaps over a quiet dinner. Then let us know what you learned about each other, and whether you need to take some steps to balance out the childcare responsibilities.