The gender gap doesn’t just show it’s self in the work force, it’s also prevalent on the parenting scene. One of the ways this disparity of expectation between moms and dads makes an appearance is in the comments women hear regularly about their role as a mother. Often passive aggressive, whether intentionally or not, there are well-known phrases that seem to seep into the conversation about parenting that highlight the sexism still present in the family dynamic. While the ideal is that parents share the responsibility of raising their children equally, the reality in our society is that women are still subliminally expected to carry most of the load and this is reflected in commonplace comments directed towards mothers.
Sure, people may not consciously mean offense with comments like “Of course, the children should be the priority,” and “You have the luxury of staying home. What do you do with your free time?” But really when someone says to you, “It must be nice to get a break from the kids when you go to work” how are mothers spposed to feel?
Whether intended or not, these comments add to the increasing pressure for women to be the predominant caregiver in the family, continuing the pervasive belief that it’s the woman’s role to put more effort and time in with child rearing than men.
The weight of this heavier responsibility on moms comes from innumerable small actions and everyday expectations that continue to condition a pervading sexist societal view. But there is no one right way to be a mom or a woman. If we’re to empower women, part of that must be to consider our words and implicit thoughts about mothers and the dynamics of parenting in heterosexual relationships.
Currently, dads are glorified when they help out with the kids. However, if a mom does the same thing for the kids, it’s not considered something special or worthy of praise—it’s expected.
We hold different standards for men and women in regards to parenting that borders on hostile if questioned. Fathers don’t often thank mothers for taking care of the kids or changing the diaper or helping out with the child rearing, it’s taken as a given that the moms will be doing the majority of the nurturing and work with the kids.
If we’re to make drastic improvements in eradicating sexism in our society, a major contributing factor will be addressing and dismantling the gender gap in parenting. This includes the imbalance of unpaid work done by women, the disproportionate responsibility on women to care for children in the household, and the increased amount of domestic work done by women.