I was raised on ``Free to Be, You and Me’’ and the gospel of gender neutrality. Girls could do anything boys could; any perceived difference was society trying to hold us back. But becoming a parent has made me believe in the gender divide. Not only do my husband and I have opposite responses to many parenting difficulties, I watched the baby girls and boys quickly fall into different camps at our daycare center.
I’m not talking about playing with trucks or dolls -- most kids love both. But the girls are so much more verbal, and the boys are so much more physical. It’s not mere socialization that allows me to spend a rainy afternoon indoors with my girls, quietly playing tea, when my cousin’s boys would tear the place apart. There’s biology at work too.
So I read with great interest the New York Times magazine article on equally shared parenting. Is it possible -- or desirable -- to ignore gender differences in a family? The couple in the article that comes the closest to the shared care ideal ends up dividing some tasks along traditional gender roles, such as bill paying, lawn mowing, and writing thank you notes. The point, they say, is ``to think things through instead of defaulting to gender.’’
How does your family assign chores? Is there an element of gender involved? Please share your stories in the forum.